He described the method to his mother who said she’d never heard of it, either. But she did recall Norwegians using the skin (or swim bladders) from fish when boiling coffee in order to help clarify it.
The chemist’s conclusion was that Norwegians who came to the Midwestern United States replaced the fish skins with eggs. Eggs were a much easier source of protein to come by than fish in their new home, and the chemical results the same.
This is about the best explanation I have come across for why egg coffee may have become popular in the Midwest and among Americans with Norwegians roots. (Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments--and, yes, I do discuss egg shells in coffee grounds, keep reading.)
As for the scientific rationale behind this method of making coffee, it’s fairly simple; Dr. Lersch explains it this way: eggs contain proteins (as do fish skins, which is what Norwegians in Norway once used). Proteins help the coffee grounds to flocculate; that is, clump together, which helps to prevent the bitter grinds from ending up in you cup. Proteins also bind to the polyphenols in coffee, ridding it of astringency, which aids in clarifying it. That’s why the result is a pleasant, mild tasting brew.
If you find yourself with cabin fever this winter, give this method a try. I think you’ll enjoy the experiment. I did.
|Cleo Coyle, java|
egghead, is author of The
A Coffeehouse Mystery
To learn more, click here.
Canned, pre-ground coffees are mass produced and mass roasted, giving them much less dimension and complexity than premium (aka "specialty") coffees, roasted in small batches. In other words, if you're using cheaper coffee, this method of making it will give you a smoother and more drinkable brew.
If you're making high-quality coffees, however, most coffee pros would recommend using other methods to preserve their complex flavors (and so would I). Use this method only for inexpensive, pre-ground coffees...or the occasional curious experiment.
What about Grandma
and her Egg Shells?
She was right, if she did it right. While some people like to use the whole egg when making this coffee, some use the egg and shell, too—the shell is calcium carbonate, which will neutralize acid. Here’s the thing, though, it only works if you really crush up the shell into the grinds. Simply throwing large, empty shells into a coffee filter does nothing to change the acidity level.
|Once strained, the egg coffee produces a very pretty,|
amber-colored beverage. Despite using inexpensive,
pre-ground coffee, the result is clear, smooth, and delicious.
How Cleo Makes
Norwegian Egg Coffee
(5) BOIL for 3 full minutes.
As the coffee boils and the egg cooks,
the coffee grinds clump together
and the brew is clarified.
Serve the egg coffee hot or iced, as you like, with or without cream and sugar.
Winter Spice Blend
Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice).
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