Swedish egg coffee is a unique Scandinavian-American tradition from the days before Keurig coffee makers. It’s a concoction beloved by many ladies in church basements throughout the Midwest: a mixture of coffee grounds and a beaten egg—shell and all. It’s said that the egg and shell clarify the coffee and make it less bitter.
The website Talk About Coffee explains that the proteins in the egg bind with the acid in the coffee to neutralize it. It doesn’t change the flavor of the coffee, but it makes it super smooth and wonderful.
Eric Dregni, author of Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), and an assistant professor of English at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn., wrote the following in a blog post for the University of Minnesota Press:
“Every morning, my grandmother made her Swedish egg coffee: a quarter cup of Folgers— that’s what Mrs. Olson recommended—mixed with an egg white and the shell thrown in for a little calcium. The egg clings to the grounds, so when her concoction was poured through a simple strainer, the result was a perfectly clear cup of coffee. Swedes like her further diluted it with thick cream, whereas Norwegians always wanted it black.”
According to Dregni, Scandinavians drink the most coffee of anyone in the world—at least 18 pounds per person per year.
- 1 egg with the shell (Give the eggshell a good washing before using it.)
- 1 cup of ground coffee (medium to large grind, so as not to pass through mesh)
- 8 cups water, divided
In a medium bowl, crack egg and crush shell; add coffee grounds and 1/3 cup water. Mix into a paste.
In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Carefully add paste to boiling water. (It’ll foam a little bit, which is normal.) When the boil returns, turn off heat and remove from stove.
As the hot water cooks the egg, the coffee grounds will clump and float. Let it sit for six to seven minutes—longer for stronger coffee. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large coffee pot. Discard the solids, and enjoy!