How to make coffee that doesn’t suck: Swedish Egg Coffee

Last fall, I made a poor attempt at making Swedish Egg Coffee. I had no idea what I was doing, and I ended up making something that looked like dead birds in an oil spill. I did a lot of research and figured out the error of my ways. In short,

I. Was. Wrong.

There. That’s the last time you’ll ever hear me say that.

Anyway, here is the RIGHT way to make Swedish Egg Coffee, and you’ll thank me for it. Trust me.

Swedish egg coffee is one of my favorite brewing methods. It makes an extra-mellow, non-bitter cup of coffee and can be scaled up to brew huge amounts of coffee for huge amounts of people. It’s a fantastic way to tantalize kids and adults at Scout camp, which I did last fall, and it’s a great way to make coffee for people who don’t like bitter coffee. It’s a strong flavor for those who like strong coffee, but not so strong that you need milk to tone it down.

According to legend, Swedish Egg Coffee was an immigrant recipe developed “on the boat” from Sweden to America back in the late 1800’s. Coffee filters didn’t exist like they do today, so your option for coffee was percolator coffee, which is bitter and acidic and generally pretty awful. Definitely not appropriate fare for us culinarily timid Scandinavians. Enter egg coffee.

It’s wicked easy. In fact, it’s probably the easiest coffee I’ve ever made. You can make it on a stove, you can make it on a fire. You can make it in a teapot or in a cup or in a coffee can. I’ve used a percolator pot, but today I used The Patient Wife’s nice nonstick Rachael Ray Saucepan.

To make egg coffee, you’ll need the following:

1 tablespoon Coarse Ground Coffee for each cup of coffee you’d like to make

1 cup of water for each cup of coffee you’d like to make

1 cup of icy cold water

1 egg

1 cup

1 wooden stir thingy

1 strainer

Paper towel for when you spill

A friggin coffee mug


1. Boil your water

You won’t get anything if you don’t boil your water. Put the pot on the stove and boil the water.


2. Assemble your ingredients

swedish egg coffee egg coffee egg eggs cage free the iron buzz free range organic

While your water is boiling, assemble your ingredients. Our eggs come from Sunshine Harvest Farm in Webster, Minnesota. They didn’t pay me to say that, they just kick butt and they have organic, free-range eggs. Buy your eggs from them.


3. Break your egg

DSC_0718Break your egg into your cup. Crumble up the shell and put that in there too. Trust me. There’s a lot of controversy over whether or not you should put your shells in, but us Norwegians make it with the shell and all. Those lousy Swedes may waste, but my people are FAR too practical for such nonsense. Also, the calcium carbonate in the shell neutralizes the acid extracted from the coffee.

3. Mix your coffee and egg and 2 tbs of cold water


Mix all the coffee and the egg together. You’ll know when it’s mixed. It’ll be like sandy mud.

4. Dump it all into the pot


Dump it in and stir. You have to be vigilant here. Your water should be at a rolling boil, but if you dump your mix in there and aren’t careful it’ll boil over in a heartbeat.

Let it boil/simmer for a solid 5 minutes.

5. Add the cold water


After the five minutes are up, remove the pot from heat and add your cold water. This part is crucial because the cold water makes the clumps of coffee sink to the bottom. If your water isn’t cold enough, it flat out won’t work and your clumps won’t sink.


6. Serve

To make sure you did it right, use a ladle and a strainer. My water wasn’t cold enough, so I had some clumps. The longer my coffee cooled, the more the clumps sank.

Also, be careful, because while spilled coffee is mildly irritating to clean up, spilled egg chunks hitting your red hot burner SUCK to clean up. Mop up your spills or my wife is going to kill me.

7. Drink


One of the reasons that egg coffee tastes so good is that since we don’t use a paper filter, all of the essential oils in the coffee beans make it into the drink. You can even see them in the picture.

More oils = better coffee.

Not only does the egg solidify around most of the grounds, but as I said before, the shell contains calcium carbonate which neutralizes the acid in the coffee. Additionally, several enzymes in the egg neutralize most of the bitterness so you get a REALLY mellow cup of coffee. Most people who drink cream in their coffee don’t need to with egg coffee.

It’s an old immigrant trick and a lot of the Minnesota Lutheran churches still make it. As far as smooth, mellow coffee goes, it’s about as good as it gets.

If you make some, let me know how it turns out!

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Author: El Chris

I’m full of snark that doesn’t always come out. I have a soft spot for kids and people with special needs. I’m a disability advocate by day, and a coffee roasting photographer by night. You’ll love me, but your parents will love me more.

39 thoughts on “How to make coffee that doesn’t suck: Swedish Egg Coffee”

  1. Cool!! I am not a fan of bitterness so I will need to try this. When scaling up, at what point would you need a second egg?

  2. So if I have this straight, the recipie says 1 cup of water for every TBSP of coffee, and you add a SECOND cup of cold water for every cup of coffee? Thats seems weak, a total of 2 cups of water for 1 TBSP of coffee. And the recipie says 1 egg, listed with the 1 TBSP of coffee and the cups of water. But later a response says 1 egg per 9 cups of coffee. (is that 9 total cups, or now 18 cups when I add the cup of cold water?) Please clarify.

    1. Nope, you don’t have it right. One cup of water per tablespoon + one single cup of cold water for the final step. Also, one egg per nine tablespoons of coffee. Not sure what you read, but that’s it.

        1. Did you do two tablespoons per cup of water or two tablespoons total? Either way, it doesn’t make a really bold cup of coffee thanks to the egg and the shell. If you only did two tablespoons total though, that would make it pretty weak.

    2. So if I hear you correctly, the one cup of icy cold water as it’s there to sink the clumps, is one cup of icy cold water, period. Regardless of how many cups of coffee you are making.

  3. This does make a seriously smooth cup of coffee with no bitterness whatsoever! Personally, I’d scale up the ratio of grounds to water as I like a cup with a bit more bite – but thanks for the mystery solved. I’d always wondered WHY my mom would talk about egg and coffee – and now I know! BTW – awesome blog, Chris!

  4. Absolutely the best coffee! Thanks for the recipe & the tips. While I’m not Lutheran, my sister is & the ladies at her church still make egg coffee at St. Olaf Church in Walnut Grove, MN.

  5. Just made an awesome cup of coffee following your recipe. Flippin’ gorgeous. Has brightened up this rainy London morning.

  6. Ya sure yew betcha! Good coffee! Match it up with a cup of “regular” coffee and a water chaser between drinks and you will taste a huge difference. Haven’t had it in years. Will have often now! Thanks.

  7. Hello!

    I have been thinking about making this for a long time now. I want to make it for Christmas with my family. My Swedish-American grandfather loved this, and it was the first taste of coffee that I ever had. Hope my kids get a kick out of tasting it, and I thank you for posting this Blast from the Past!

  8. Tried this today. Didn’t work quite right, as I got no clumping at all…had to use the ladle/strainer technique to serve. Cold water was ice water, but I guess not cold enough (I used 3 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of coffee, so that was a lot of hot liquid). Anyway, at first I thought, ‘How could this possibly taste like anything’, as it was pretty light-colored. But when I tried it, it was actually pretty good. (I used a lighter to medium roast bean.) What I discovered, though, is that I actually must like a little acidity and mild bitterness in my coffee, as this was even a little TOO smooth for me. It was flavorful, but not as kicky as I like. So…probably won’t do this again, but I appreciate you posting instructions for this experiment. The time was not wasted, as I have refined my coffee preferences in the process. Plus, now I know what Swedish egg coffee is. (I did include the shells, by the way. I’m a manly man.)

    1. I’m REALLY glad you included the shells. I would doubt your masculinity otherwise.
      I’ve actually heard this feedback a lot! If you’re really into the bitter bite or a bright, acidic flavor then this method is NOT for you. It’s more of a “sit and drink it all day” kind of coffee.

  9. It worked! Thanks for the details and pictures. I decided to try it and lo and behold a smooth, delicious cup of coffee! I also appreciate the lower acidity, regular coffee tends to hurt my stomach if I drink too much. I will definitely keep doing this! Cheers.

  10. My Grandparents came from Sweden in the late 1800’s. Grandma made this coffee and even though she was a “lousy Swede” she put the shells in also.

  11. Never copy a Swede. (I mean what sort of godless perv would invent the Volvo? Only idiots need that much safety.) Take it from a Dane: Leave the shell in.

  12. I have been making this coffee for over 50 years and my mother, grandmother and great grandmother before me! With no Swedish in us (From Omaha-LOL) I am asked to bring my 30 cup porcelain pot to most every function I attend. The hard part is getting past the chicken-hearted who won’t even try it. The most awesome part about this coffee is that it tastes just as fresh at the end of day 2 of drinking the same potful!

  13. Hi,
    This is the first time I’ve heard of egg coffee and it’s a must to try.
    However as an initial trial and because I hate wasting good coffee, (that I roast myself), I’d like to make a single cup.
    Can I ask, in that case would 1 whole egg still be ok and would I need a full cup of cold water?
    If so I’m aware that’ll make a very watered down, and cold, cup.
    Maybe something like a 1/4 cup of cold or could you reheat the coffee gently after straining?

    1. I don’t think this recipe scales down well. You could cut it in half, but less than that and you’ll have too much egg I think. You can certainly give it a shot. As for the watered-down-ness, I think you’re missing a few steps. The final cup of cold water is only ten percent of the water you’re using, with the other ninety percent being boiling. If you use ten percent cold water and ninety percent hot water, you’ll still have a hot cup of coffee. If you keep the same ratio of ground coffee and hot water, you won’t have a watered down or cold cup at all.

  14. I’ll have to try this. My mother-in-law used to make this (she was Jewish). I was a new bride & when I tried it, I did it in a glass Pyrex pot—the egg(s)? Swelled & broke the pot, but I’ve often wondered what I did wrong.

  15. I’m Swedish, born and raised and I have literally never heard of this. I don’t think this is a Swedish tradition.

  16. Sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with the positive reviews for this coffee preparation method. The result is exceedingly bland and more akin to colored water. In order to overcome the severe reduction of flavor, the amount of grounds used would have to double or triple. This process is best for those who don’t actually like coffee. Which brings us to the point of, why drink coffee if you don’t like it? Avoid this method if you actually want coffee flavored coffee.

  17. I’m one of those ‘lousy’ Swedes you referred to in your directions. We also include the egg in it’s entirety-shells and all. My Grandma, Omeline, made this kind of coffee for their farm breakfasts in a huge old blue enamel coffee pot we grandkids used to call the ‘cowboy coffee pot”. That pot of coffee stayed warm on the stove top all day and was drank from by the grown-ups until just before bedtime. I had my first cup of it on the first day of first grade. I explained to my parents and grandparents that since I was growing up and starting school I needed the coffee to start my day just like the adults who were doing a full days work on their farm. I was hooked with the first sip, given with a drop of whole milk and spoon of sugar, mind you. Now I drink it straight from the sauce pan and remember my Swedish ancestors who moved to the US without an iota of an idea of what they were going to find.
    God Jul to you all,
    Another one of those lousy Swedes. 11/30/2006

  18. ahhhhhh, lovely,… what a smooth, grand coffee! I was wonderfully impressed. Sounds like the recipe can be a little tricky, but it worked well (for my first time) and Wow, what a difference. I could see this being a habit! 🙂

  19. I have a 1930-40s era french cooking school recipe book that gives instruction on using a perculator with reserved egg shells. No egg, just shells saved from…Making… I’d like to think sweet pasteeries! Anyway, same pricaple.

  20. Mine worked well too. It,s been 35 years since I had my first cup made by my wife’s Great Grandmother. She was 93 and made fresh Danish pastries too.

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