Starting the morning with eggs and coffee is a timeless approach to breakfast. But the ways in which these two ingredients successfully combine is far more variable than scrambled and black, inhabiting respective plate and cup. Egg coffee, for example, takes on multiple forms. While the Vietnamese rendition incorporates hot, sugary, frothed egg into a Robusta brew, Scandinavian egg coffee uses the egg as a clarifying agent to enhance a less-than-optimal cuppa joe.
Swedes and Norwegians invented this brewing method, which requires cracking a whole egg into coffee grounds with a bit of water, then mixing everything into a slimy mush. After bringing a pot of water to a rolling boil, drinkers then add the coffee mixture and let it steep. The result? Cup after cup of clean, sienna-tinted brew. The egg absorbs the tannins and impurities that typically impart bitterness and unpleasantry to low-quality cups of boiled java.
In the mid-1800s, Scandinavian immigrants brought the method to the United States’ Midwest, which improved upon the suboptimal coffee available. The brew earned the nickname “church basement coffee” because it was ideal for boiling massive quantities of joe. It became a staple of social gatherings, and even now, many recipes for egg coffee make at least 10 cups. Eventually, the drip coffeemaker took over, but not even the most efficient machines can compete with the sheer volume afforded by the egg-reliant stovetop technique.