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. Mark I love you! I was sitting here pouting because I’m out of cream for my coffee while simultaneously figuring out what protein didn’t sound gross to me before Crossfit. You’re my dreamboat Mark.

    Sarah wrote on July 26th, 2013
  2. Oh my Grok! This just rocked my world. Never heard of bulletproof coffee but I’m so glad you did and decided to run thus little experiment. Never really been a breakfast person but I loves my espresso. I like an egg in the morning too but don’t get up early enough to feel I have time deal with that (lame excuse but I never could get past it). Usually like some cram w my coffee but hardly ever have it in my house. Now all my troubles are solved!! Two pastured eggs, double shot espresso, 1/2 tsp sug and pinch o salt =’s awesome. Thanks so much!

    takefive wrote on July 26th, 2013
  3. Great innovation! Here are so suggested tweaks:
    – vanilla essence (alcohol free)
    – cinnamon
    – start w/ eggs at room temperature
    – add a tablespoon of MCT oil

    Glenn Whitney wrote on July 26th, 2013
  4. I used 8-12 whole quail eggs (4 probably equal a chicken egg)
    I slowly added coffee
    I added a dash of sea salt & 2 packets of stevia

    I drank 3 of those yesterday & I hardly ate anything else. I thought that it was really good & it made me feel good too. It didn’t taste “eggy”, but using more eggs seemed to enhance the taste slightly. A little sugar would likely make it taste even better since stevia has a weird twang, IMHO, but I am trying to really cut back on my carbs right now. I plan to experiment with different combos of… grassfed butter or heavy cream, coconut oil or other coconut products, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, cacao, whey protein, an espresso shot, vanilla, etc. & I probably will eventually use a little sugar instead of stevia.

    Thanks for the recipes & the ideas!

    TJ wrote on July 26th, 2013
  5. I’ve been doing this for a while but I like to wait until the coffee is cool enough to not cook the yolk. Especially when hand-mixing with a fork, if the coffee’s hot enough to cook the yolk it tends to get mealy. Still hot enough to satisfy, unless you’re a fan of burning your tongue.

    Erik wrote on July 26th, 2013
  6. great conversation – I’ve been drinking BPC for a while now – aeropress coffee plus water and 4tbs kerrygold to total 12oz for my favorite mug… added a mondo local egg yesterday – even creamier, frothier – love the taste both ways – my biggest challenge is the temperature – using water at around 190 to not burn the coffee, I have to heat the mug (by temporarily filling it with hot water) to keep the blended brew warm enough after the butter is added… and after adding the egg yesterday I found myself wishing the drink was hotter off the bat, and especially in the 2nd half…

    how do you guys keep it hot enough without burning the coffee?

    klaus wrote on July 26th, 2013
  7. I just tried this with one egg yolk in one standard 10oz cup of coffee, stirred briskly by hand with a fork. I added a sprinkle of salt and some honey. It was great! I’m going to up the egg to 2 tomorrow before my workout and let you know how it goes!

    Patrick wrote on July 26th, 2013
  8. Have to give it a try. With the hot summer weather and sometimes having to scoot out the door early I have tried substituting either coffee with unsalted Kerrygold or a simple smoothie with coconut milk, some berries and a couple of eggs. The last time I went camping I took butter, but no milk or 1/2 &1/2. Made coffee and dropped a big lump in it. Good stuff. Abel James turned me on to a little battery frother they sell in Ikea for under $5. Beats a manual drink frother or whisk any day.

    Keith wrote on July 26th, 2013
  9. you know what! Yummy!! Really surprised, but shouldn’t considering where the suggestion came from!! Thanks Mark!

    anna wrote on July 26th, 2013
  10. Sounds delicious. What do you do with the extra egg whites?

    Reinhold wrote on July 27th, 2013
  11. yea that’s what i was looking for at the breakfast. I think i’m gonna try this tomorrow breakfast

    Asif wrote on July 28th, 2013
  12. Mark I read recently that that it is easier for the body to absorb protein and other nutrients from eggs when they are cooked as opposed to being raw, so adding them to smoothies and drinks is not as effective. What are your thoughts on this?

    Nat wrote on July 29th, 2013
  13. I have now tried it a few times. I like it but I am not in love with it. I think I will save it for when I’m in a VERY big rush and I don’t have any hard boiled eggs on hand. Other than that I don’t love it enough to consume it for leisurely purposes.

    I looked at the Swedish egg coffee and it seems that the egg is not mixed directly into the coffee. It seems a bit of a waste of the egg, but I would like to try it for the overall coffee taste. Or, at the very least I could use the left over egg shell and mix that with the coffee grounds etc. a la camping coffee for when I might not have a strainer (or don’t want to wash one).

    Thanks Mark, for the idea—it should come in handy on those speedy occasions.

    Zorica Vuletic wrote on July 29th, 2013
  14. Its worth a try. It’d be nice to have a different way to get more eggs in the diet.

    Matt wrote on July 29th, 2013
  15. Made this as an iced coffee with vanilla and cinnamon. OMG!! Tastes like a milkshake. New favorite!

    Beth wrote on July 29th, 2013
  16. Ah Beth, perhaps if I add cocoa and vanilla—–:)

    Zorica Vuletic wrote on July 29th, 2013
  17. Any ideas on this as a dinner replacement with decaf? It would be an easy dinner every once in a while.

    Chris wrote on July 29th, 2013
  18. I have been trying to go without milk or cream in my coffee, since it worsens my asthma, but never liked a substitute like coconutmilk, it was just not tasting right to me. I also never liked to fatty taste of it. I will try this recipe out for sure, hopefully I will like it, can’t go without coffee forever and don’t like to drink it dark either.

    Margit wrote on July 31st, 2013
  19. Hi questions : what is French press coffee?? And are pasture Eggs the same as Free Range??? Anyone? Ignorant Aussie here – different terms I assume?

    Anna wrote on July 31st, 2013
    • French Press coffee is the same as the plunge pot-Use a large grind coffee add hot water,and then after about 2-3 minutes,you push the plunger down in the pot (that traps the ground coffee) and pour

      DP wrote on August 1st, 2013
  20. I AM LOVING THIS! I used to do the BP coffee but found that I would get nauseous around lunch time and I had to eat some fruit or something with a little carbs/sugar in it to get my appetite back. I tried the egg coffee after you suggested it and it is awesome! It staves off hunger for a long enough time but my appetite naturally returns in time for lunch. It also tastes great and gives me more focus and energy then coffee alone. I am doing 2 egg yolks (the dogs are loving the whites in the am :) ), cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a little MCT Oil, and this morning I put a packet of Stevia in it and that was great too. I found a new go to, thanks for the suggestion Mark!

    Merky wrote on August 1st, 2013
  21. Has anyone tried this with a black tea? I’m not a coffee drinker, but I have my own urban chicken flock, so lots of fresh eggs! No coffee for me :(

    nancy wrote on August 1st, 2013
  22. I just tried it with strong Irish breakfast tea, not bad!

    nancy wrote on August 1st, 2013
  23. I did find, after using Irish Breakfast tea, that there was a bit of an eggy aftertaste. Next time I’d add some vanilla or something stronger flavor. It was filling though! Held me for about a good 4 hours! Good breakfast replacement once in a while…

    nancy wrote on August 1st, 2013
  24. Just made the 2-egg version with about 90% decaf. Life is good (well, except that I was going to give up coffee today…again).

    Anytime I was under the weather as a kid, my mom would make eggnog. Raw eggs, milk and sugar mixed in the good old Sunbeam mixer.

    Nice to see many of us are keeping the traditions alive.

    Saludos!

    spicegirl wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  25. Just tried recipe #1 this morning w/ raw honey and a touch of vanilla, as I had run out of coconut oil (gasp) and desperately wanted something in my coffee besides cream. Quite tasty, but the blender is probably too much effort for a normal morning before work (good weekend drink though). Even my husband, who very reluctantly drinks coffee, requested a second sip of this concoction.

    SB wrote on August 3rd, 2013
  26. Just tried this recipe this morning. It was great, but I still have to get past having raw eggs. Never liked the smell. Hopefully I’ll get over it. Thanks Mark for posting this.

    Kathy wrote on August 3rd, 2013
  27. Good morning/afternoon/evening to all,

    I am gona try this Paleo diet for the first time. Normally when I do a diet or rather look at one there is about 90% of the food that I won’t dare put in my mouth ’cause I just don’t eat it. Paleo looks rather like my kind of food to eat everyday. Unfortunately bread and noodles is on of the primary foods in the house that is quick to make and quick to make for lunch. I do love my coffee first thing in the morning and I don’t like to change my coffee taste really. I’m really afraid to try this egg coffee but would like to try it atleast once and give it to my boyfriend in the mornings as well, ’cause he has a huge problem with getting tired early in the day. What can I do to make it tasty? The I want to know what is the story with Ketosis?, mTOR inhibitor? What does that mean and what does it do.

    I have long wondered if coffee is a appetite surppresant, is that true?

    Please help

    Bekkie-ZA wrote on August 5th, 2013
  28. I finally broke down and tried this. Made version one yesterday and version two this morning… both were really good. IMHO both are much better than BPC. I’ve tried BPC on several occasions and just couldn’t take to it. However, I can see myself getting hooked on egg coffee. Great creamy consistency, great taste and I have to think overall much more nutritious than BPC.

    BodhiC wrote on August 5th, 2013
  29. My cardiologist told me that I have high cholesterol, consisting of high LDL (the bad kind), and low HDL (the good kind)

    He told me that I should limit myself to eating no more than 2-3 egg yolks per week, as it would be impossible to reduce my cholesterol to a healthy level, including achieving a healthy ratio of good (HDL) to bad (LDL) cholesterol.

    I tend to think that he is likely right, given his education and training.
    So it’s probably a good idea to be careful about what we recommend in any sweeping fashion to everyone, regardless of their health history.

    Michael wrote on August 5th, 2013
  30. This sounds so freaking interesting.

    I’ve found making a form of bulletproof coffee to be awesome a few times a week – mainly on my non training days to be amazing. I typically add butter, coconut oil, and some chocolate whey protein sometimes (if feeling like I need a little something).

    The idea of egg yoke is so awesome. I see what you mean by the building blocks of life within it. I am going to be looking for some pasturized egg yokes and trying this out very soon! I probably won’t even require any sugar (especially if adding a half scoop of protein powder too).

    Very rad.

    Scotty Webb wrote on August 6th, 2013

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