Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
24 Jul

Primal Egg Coffee: The Best Part of Waking Up?

Primal Egg CoffeeBulletproof coffee has taken the paleo world by storm. Not me, though.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for people dropping grass-fed butter and coconut/MCT oil into their high-quality coffee, blending it all up into a high-octane mug of frothiness, but I just can’t get into it. If we’re talking coffee additives, I prefer my butter in the form of cream. That’s me. I definitely see the appeal of it, though, and I’m sold on the merits of the drink and its components. It’s just not for me.

However, the idea of adding non-traditional fatty food items to coffee intrigued me, so I decided to explore other options. Eventually, I landed on eggs.

Why eggs?

Egg yolks are excellent emulsifiers. There’s the egg yolk lecithin, a famous emulsifier, plus several different egg yolk proteins with emulsification properties. Good yolks are prized by top chefs around the world primarily for their emulsifying ability. Egg yolks smooth out sauces, salad dressings, and relations between bitter enemies like oil and water. That’s right: egg yolks are the great unifiers of the food world. Throw some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a bowl, whisk it all together, and you’ll have a lovely stratified bowl of fluids of different shades. Oh, they might appear to blend together into a dressing for a second or two, but once you look away, the old immutable divisions will rear their heads and the dressing will disappear. Add an egg yolk or two, though? You’ll get a silky smooth salad dressing that remains so for time immemorial.

If you don’t have a blender but still want a smooth, creamy coffee drink, hand-frothing an egg yolk with a fork or whisk will get you there. Hand-frothing butter and coconut oil requires vigorous labor and may not even achieve full emulsification.

Eggs are incredible sources of micronutrients. While I love grass-fed butter, cream, and coconut oil, they aren’t exactly micronutrient-dense. The best butter contains beneficial nutrients like vitamin A, omega-3s, vitamin K2, and butyric acid, while coconut oil is a unique source of medium chain triglycerides, but for the most part we eat those foods because they are sources of stable, healthful saturated fats. They provide energy. Egg yolks, on the other hand, are baby bird building blocks. They contain everything you need to build an entire working animal from scratch – all the vitamins, minerals, protein, and fatty acids that make life work. And, if you get a pastured egg – which you should if you know what’s good for (and your omelets) – your yolk will be supercharged, with extra choline, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin K2, omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and beta-carotene from all the bugs and greens the chickens ate.

I love eggs, particularly the yolks, and enjoy adding them to everything. They’re a solid, dependable, go-to breakfast item, they’re good for you, and they taste great. What more can you want? That’s why they ended up on my list of foods I couldn’t live without, and that’s why they ended up in my coffee. In the end, I just love eggs, and since I already add them to just about everything, I figured “why not coffee?”

Are there any potential problems with adding eggs to coffee?

Oxidation springs to mind. Not only are you subjecting egg yolks to heat, you’re also whipping oxygen into them. It seems like the perfect storm of lipid oxidation, no?

I’m actually not too worried. First of all, the coffee really isn’t very hot. It’s well under boiling.

Second, coffee is a rich source of antioxidants – you know, those things whose primary job is to prevent oxidation. Whereas bathing fragile fats in a boiling bath of water might promote oxidation, coffee is essentially an antioxidant-rich broth. Marinating meats in herbs, wine, and citrus juice seems to prevent oxidation, and I’d bet that coffee can have similarly protective effects. Drinking coffee sure protects LDL particles from oxidation via incorporation of coffee polyphenols into said LDL particles; why wouldn’t coffee polyphenols frothed up with egg yolk offer similar protections to egg phospholipids?

Third, the actual blending/frothing only takes place for a few seconds. It’s relatively short-lived, probably not long enough to be a problem.

Fourth, the vitamin E in egg yolks is there to prevent oxidation. It’s quite good at it. Coincidentally, this is why you should get pastured eggs if possible. The yolks of pastured eggs contain upwards of four times the vitamin E found in standard battery egg yolks.

What about raw egg white’s tendency to bind biotin? Raw egg whites have the well-publicized ability to bind biotin (found in the yolk) and prevent its absorption. Luckily, the binding ability of avidin begins to break down at 158 ºF (70 ºC) and is almost completely degraded at 185 ºF (85 ºC). Since coffee is ideally brewed with water running between 190 and 200 ºF, the finished product should be able to keep avidin from binding your biotin.

But why eggs and coffee?

I stumbled upon something I had never heard of until recently – Vietnamese Egg Coffee – and decided to experiment in the kitchen.

Now, let’s get right to the recipes themselves. As you’ll see, they’re not all that complex. You’re basically just adding eggs or egg yolks to coffee. Still, though, read on to see exactly how I did it.

Primal Egg Yolk Coffee

I did a little playing around with this and tried several different recipes. In the end, I think I came up with a solid recipe. Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup (350 ml) coffee
  • 3 pastured egg yolks
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of salt

First, I brewed the coffee (35 grams of coffee beans – I used a light roast, single-origin bean) in a French press. Dumped the grinds in, added about 350 ml of water, gave it a quick stir, covered it, and let it sit for three minutes. Meanwhile, I separated the yolks from the whites. Once the coffee was ready, I dumped it in a blender, set it to “low,” and dropped in the yolks. After a few seconds, I added a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt (around a quarter teaspoon) and let it blend a bit more. Then, I poured it, admired the head of foam, and got to drinking.

I tried fewer yolks and found the brew too thin. I tried more yolks and found it to be unnecessary. Three yolks was perfect. If you want to switch things up, you can add something a little sweet like I did. I added my usual teaspoon of sugar, plus a quarter teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt. Honey, maple syrup, or stevia should all work well, too. The salt may sound odd, but trust me: it just works as long as you use a little sweetness to counterbalance it.

Primal Whole Egg Coffee

Think of this as a whole foods-based protein shake. Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) coffee
  • 2 pastured eggs
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt

I started by beating the eggs together, whole, as if you were making scrambled eggs. You could also blend them. For a 1 cup dose of coffee, I did two whole eggs. Once the eggs are beaten or blended, slowly drizzle in the coffee. You don’t want to cook the eggs. You want them to stay creamy. If you’re really concerned about the avidin in the raw white, dump the coffee in to ensure maximal heat exposure. Otherwise, just drizzle.

I think a higher egg:coffee ratio (using a large shot of espresso, for example) for a stronger coffee flavor would work really well. Also, two eggs in this recipe created a nice and creamy concoction. I suspect three eggs might even be better.

Again, I added a little sweetener plus some salt. It made the coffee taste a bit like a liquified custard. Really, really tasty.

Adding Other Ingredients

I also tried out a few other additions to the brews, to see how they meshed with the eggs. Consider adding these:

  • Cinnamon – Goes great with coffee, provides insulin sensitizing benefits.
  • Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory spice, works well with cinnamon.
  • Vanilla – Tastes good, smells better. May have anti-inflammatory effects. Also works well with cinnamon (but not so much with turmeric).
  • Butter and coconut oil – If you dig Bulletproof coffee, adding egg yolks makes it even better.

Use Caution!

In the course of research for this post, I ingested five eggs plus five extra yolks along with several cups of moderately strong coffee. I don’t know if it was just an excessive amount of coffee or if the caffeine was potentiated by the phospholipids in the yolks, but I felt like I was under the influence of… something. Although it was a good feeling, a productive feeling, to be sure, I could see it getting out of hand if taken too far. This is potent stuff. A cup or two is probably ideal, at least for me.

“Sugar – really?”

Don’t worry about a little sugar, even the white stuff. The amount I added, a teaspoon, is just four grams of sucrose. And, if you use an actual food like honey or maple syrup, which have different (improved) metabolic effects compared to plain white sugar, the potential downsides of ingesting sugar are lessened even more. Besides, you can always use a non-caloric sweetener like stevia, which has its own set of benefits.

Since writing this article a few weeks back, I’ve begun rotating egg yolk coffee into my morning routine. I don’t have it every day, but do have it several times a week, particularly if I have a busy day ahead of me where optimal productivity is required. Whole egg coffee seems to work well pre-workout, boosting energy, motivation, and providing a nice source of branched-chain amino acids for the training ahead.

What about you, folks? Want to give this a shot? Ever tried this yourself? Got any tips to improve my recipes? If you do try it, let me know in the comment section how it works out!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. my family is from southern italy and i grew up on this stuff. as kids we called it “eggnog” but my parents called it “cordiale” (not sure of the spelling; we speak dialect). they sometimes made it with ice cream or cocoa (anything to get us to have breakfast!) but the adult version was always with just coffee and a little sugar along with the whipped yolks. when my mom was going through a series of rough chemo treatments last year, my dad made her drink it every morning, and she would add cinnamon and tumeric for the cancer-fighting properties. she didn’t survive the cancer, unfortunately, but she lived much longer than the doctors expected her to live, and this morning egg cocktail helped her get through her treatments. in addition to that, it’s delicious! custard-y and filling.

    joeyc wrote on July 24th, 2013
  2. Sounds great :) Another alternative to sugar is coconut sugar which is made from the blossoms of the coconut palm. Full of amino acids and tastes like toffee. Yum! Also available in coconut syrup – the liquid version.

    Jacqui Olliver wrote on July 24th, 2013
  3. Sounds like a great idea! I tried butter coffee this past Sunday, and really enjoyed it.

    One thing I’ve been concerned about regarding coffee, is something I learned a few years ago about how coffee / caffeine block the absorption of nutrients in your gut. Has anyone else heard of this and know of any evidence to support or discredit the idea? (It wasn’t just someone on the street telling me this. My wife learned it in her Nutrition class while attending FSU.)

    I’d imagine the study was crap, considering I can’t find much research about it when searching Google.

    Arryn wrote on July 24th, 2013
  4. Primal Egg Yoke Coffee!!! I grew up on this stuff. My maternal grandmother would send me to school every morning with my “special coffee” ( she called it coffee smoothie ) and oatmeal. I now credit a wholesome diet in my early years to the great health I enjoy now. It is great to know that it’s a good healthy choice even now. Thanks!

    Diana Bear wrote on July 24th, 2013
  5. I love bp coffee, I love Kerrygold or local pastured butter, and I love intermittent fasting (20/4). None of this would be possible without going primal two years ago. IF has made all the difference in my mood, energy level, and weight, and I credit Mark and primal for giving me the basis needed to practice intermittent fasting. If I were still eating grains, I’d crash and burn.

    Casey wrote on July 24th, 2013
  6. I just made this using two egg yolks and the salt and then tasted it. As a coffee drinker, I don’t like sugar in my coffee. The taste was a little bland so I added a stevia crystal blend, and it tasted good – it’s sorta like a latte. I recommend adding the sweetener even though if, as a regular coffee drinker like me, you would never put sugar in your coffee. Thanks, Mark!

    Gail wrote on July 24th, 2013
  7. I’ve been putting eggs in my coffee almost since I learned about bullet proof coffee well over a year ago. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I use 2 egg yolks, 2-3 Tbsp butter, sometimes a bit of coconut oil and coffee.

    Dan wrote on July 24th, 2013
  8. Okay, that was AWESOME and easy. It tastes like coffee with cream and sugar! Have to watch for shells though because the eggs I get are really fresh so the shells are super thin.

    Catherine MacDonald wrote on July 24th, 2013
  9. I think this is just trying to be too gimmicky and latch on to the BPC craze.
    Just let Dave have the Coffee thing, which I love by the way.
    Next thing you know Mark will be pureeing organ meats into coffee.

    Joey wrote on July 24th, 2013
  10. I can imagine this being really good if done iced, sort of like a coffee-flavored egg nog, but hot, wouldn’t it turn out like some really weird and gross egg drop soup?

    Erin wrote on July 24th, 2013
  11. Oddly enough, this made my coffee taste like eggs. Not a fan. I’m excited to try BP coffee though, sounds tasty!

    teej wrote on July 24th, 2013
  12. Already had my coffee for the day but just tried it with matcha, cinnamon, and ginger, and a little sugar, SO yummy! Thanks Mark :)

    Emily wrote on July 24th, 2013
  13. I like to take my (organic) coffee and mix it with a tablespoon of red palm oil, little 35% cream, cinnamon and a scoop of Mark’s vanilla protein powder. I shake it all up and it gets nice and frothy. It’s quite delicious.

    Mark Cruden wrote on July 24th, 2013
  14. I have been drinking BP coffee for about a year now and make it with organic Colombian Coffee (coffee is a heavily sprayed crop), 1 TBSP of Kerry Gold butter, 1 Tbsp of MCT oil and 1/2 TBSP of Coconut Oil. I also ALWAYS add CARDAMOM to my coffee. I have studied Ayurveda and Cardamom is considered the “antidote” to coffee in that it negates some of the side effects of coffee like getting jittery, etc.

    However, unlike most people have said, I am really hungry about 2 hours after drinking the coffee. That may be because I am not on a low-carb or Paleo diet. Any thoughts?
    I make my BP coffee in my Vitamix and will try adding an egg yolk tomorrow. I always put a raw egg in my smoothies when I drank green smoothies everyday. For a variety of reasons, I no longer drink green smoothies, but like the idea of a raw egg everyday. My grandfather ate a raw egg everyday–just drank it out of a glass and he lived to be 100!
    BTW–I tried the Bullet Proof Coffee Beans when they were on sale (25% off a 5 lb. bag.) I couldn’t tell the difference between them and other organic coffee, but Davy Asprey’s big thing is avoiding toxins in food and coffee beans are usually very moldy and high in mycotoxins (I believe that is the word). He has mold sensitivity (and I do, too)–I just can’t afford to buy his beans unless they are on sale.

    Joyce wrote on July 24th, 2013
  15. I’ve been doing this with coconut milk for a while. 1/4 cup of coconut milk (Aroy D brand) with 1 whole egg in a cup of coffee and thrown into the blender. Its crack-a-licious!

    Cheryl Berube wrote on July 24th, 2013
  16. I regularly train and work at 6am. Sometimes I struggle to get a meal in before I race out the door. This is a fast, awesome alternative and I find tastier than the oil-slick-in-my-throat left after a Bulletproof Coffee.

    Well played, Mark! I’m passing this on to everyone at the box and my studio.

    Neil wrote on July 24th, 2013
  17. I like this to make my coffee creamy- http://practicalpaleo.blogspot.com/2013/01/paleo-coffee-creamer.html
    I often add vanilla to it.
    And sometimes a bit of maple syrup in my coffee cup as well.

    Emily wrote on July 24th, 2013
  18. Just got home from work and had to try this. Went with the 3 yokes, used a bullet to blend them then poured them into my coffee. A pack of truvia and it was yummy. Tasted creamy.

    Thanks for the weekend coffee fixer-upper.

    Glen

    Glen wrote on July 24th, 2013
  19. The only thing you should add to good coffe is NOTHING!

    However, I have some less than good coffee that may suit this treatment ;-)

    WelshGrok wrote on July 24th, 2013
  20. Ive tried the BP coffee and it had a nasty affect an hour later. I later found out I have an intolerance to cows milk so the large stick of butter is out for me, but this is a good alternative. I love a hot cuppa in the mornings and recently switched to a cup of bone broth instead however, this is great for switching things up a bit.

    Jane wrote on July 24th, 2013
  21. I add 3 raw pastured yolks to my greens powder (evolvedNS’s eRaw), along with IGNITE MCT oil, and some cinnamon. Great way to start the morning!

    Troy wrote on July 24th, 2013
  22. This was great. I added some cream, cinninon, and nutmeg. I do have a suggestion though. Get a hand blinder called a BAMIX. Its more expensice but made in Switzerland and there are so many uses for it. Very easy to make primal mayo, whip egg whites, smoothies etc all in the container you are going to store it in or drink it from.

    F. Tombrello wrote on July 24th, 2013
  23. The PERFECT cup for this cup of coffee (or BP coffee, or just people who like whirlpools…) – The Talking Moo Mixer, a cow patterned mug which moos while mixing your beverage!

    Cledbo wrote on July 24th, 2013
  24. Made Primal Egg Yolk Coffee with Nespresso Espresso. Next time will cut salt in half and add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Thanks for the information!

    David Grabowski wrote on July 24th, 2013
  25. I’m told that Butyric acid is actually found in coconut oil too?

    John wrote on July 24th, 2013
  26. The Norwegian version of egg coffee that my Grandmother made around the holidays varies some. She used a percolator but I use a French press same result.
    After adding your grounds to press drop whole egg in with grounds and mix them together. Then pour hot (not boiling) water in let sit 3 min.
    I don’t know about the benefits but it is one smooth cup of coffee.

    J W wrote on July 24th, 2013
  27. Yea..I don’t know… I’m generally pretty squeamish until after I get a coffee in me. I’m not so sure how I’d hold up if that coffee was hiding a raw egg yolk inside it;)

    kate wrote on July 24th, 2013
  28. perfect timing!!! I was thinking on what to have as a pre-workout meal now that I will be workingout early in the morning! whole pastured-eggs and coffee sounds creamy and delicious!
    Thanks Mark!

    Patricia Acosta-Ramirez wrote on July 24th, 2013
  29. In a pinch, would this work ok with instant coffee? At work I have better coffee, but my wife doesn’t drink it so only instant at home.

    Bluebriz wrote on July 24th, 2013
  30. Just tried it, delicious.

    Ben wrote on July 24th, 2013
  31. Very interesting. I’ve been planning on making a cholesterol-boosting coffee ice-cream for before my weekly workout, and this confirms that I should!
    I will put up a post after I try it out.
    I’ve been experimenting with Bulletproof Coffee for a few weeks now and really like it. You can see my progress here:
    http://www.cagefreehuman.com.au/bulletproof-coffee/

    I also love adding eggs to shakes, a recipe can be found here:http://www.cagefreehuman.com.au/wakenshake/

    Barnaby Nichols wrote on July 24th, 2013
  32. WISH I could eat/drink eggs because this looks insanely amazing! I cannot do dairy in general, but I want to jazz up my coffee some how to make it thicker – any ideas?

    GiGi wrote on July 24th, 2013
  33. Wow great recepie Mark, my family have been making this EXACT recepie minus the salt for generations and generations! My grandfather use to spike my mix occasionally with the alcohol ‘Marsala’. Naughty but nice. You’ll find that ALOT of traditional Italians will recognise this recepie as ‘Uovo Spattuto’

    Sammy Sue wrote on July 24th, 2013
  34. My vote for it is with a little cream and avocado blended in as well. Two more healthy fats has to be better, right? :) It sure tastes good.

    Brad wrote on July 24th, 2013
  35. I’ve been making a morning coffee smoothie for quite a while, which includes strong coffee, coconut milk, almond milk, 2 raw eggs, stevia, chocolate protein powder and ice cubes. Yum!

    Amanda wrote on July 24th, 2013
  36. I used to follow a diet quite similar (but far more strict), and I used to make drinks like this:
    http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/recipes/recipe167.php
    I decided to search the site and low-and-behold I found something strikingly similar:
    http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/recipes/recipe326.php

    It did take some getting used to, but after you have acquired the taste, it becomes quite nice and a great meal replacement.

    SamStrong wrote on July 24th, 2013
  37. Lots of other commenters have already mentioned remembering there Italian grandmother do something similar…here is Sicily this non-alcaholic zabaglione is still a go to breakfast for children and one of the first things they learn to make. A friend of mine gives her 4-year-old an egg yolk in a small bowl with a spoonful of sugar, a spoon, and lets her go to town. The little girl stirs away until her yolk becomes pale and creamy, then mom adds a teaspoon of her espresso (they have no qualms about giving coffee to kids here!). She has very fond memories of her mother doing the same with her…I wish I had grown up in a society with a food culture!

    If that sounds strange, just think of tiramisu…the cream filling is made of raw eggs emulsified with marscapone, and coffee gives flavor to the otherwise tasteless ladyfingers.

    The trick for both is whipping the egg yolks with something grainy (sugar or if your excluding it a pinch of salt) before adding liquids (coffee, honey etc.) until the yolks become pale.

    One last note/ book recommendation: Mark and others, you would love Pellegrino Artusi’s La Scienza in cucina e l’Arte di mangiar bene (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well) – the founding textbook of “Italian Cuisine” written at the end of the 1800ds. Full of common sense and lots of primal/ easily primalized recipes…

    In 719 – An Egg For a Child:

    “Don’t know how to pacify a child that cries because they want a sweet treat for breakfast? If you have a fresh egg, beat the yolk well in a bowl-shaped cup with two or three teaspoons of fine sugar, then beat the whites until they are stiff, and then combine them gently. Put the cup in front of the child … and you’ll see him very happy with a yellow mustache!

    If only all children’s meals were as innocuous as this one, there would certainly be fewer hysterics and agitated people in the world!”

    primal in sicily wrote on July 25th, 2013
  38. Tried the 2 whole eggs, honey, salt and double long espresso blend this morning. I guess I would describe it as “Paleo latte” especially once the eggs have been slightly poached by the coffee and the eggy-ness in the flavour subsides. Pick a decent size cup as you get a lot of froth. Will try again for sure.

    Danny wrote on July 25th, 2013
  39. Oh my yum. Can’t wait to try this!

    fable wrote on July 25th, 2013
  40. It’s 10 o’clock in the UK and I just made my version:
    As I couldn’t be bothered with the blender I separated three yolks (with the plastic bottle method – look it up) into a bowl and whisked them with a pinch of salt. The coffee was already made so I poured a few teaspoons worth into the eggs, whisked some more and the froth appeared! I then poured the egg-froth into my mug of coffee and stirred. Surprisingly the froth didn’t dissolved and after writing this it’s still there :-)) I was reading something about custard best being made with duck eggs so next time i’ll try it with those….. Duckoffee…..!

    Andrea wrote on July 25th, 2013

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