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. There were a lot of comments so I was not sure if this was covered, but I am wondering if I can try these recipes with regular eggs because I can’t get ahold of pastured eggs just yet? Also, am I essentially eating raw egg yolk and coffee? Or does the heat from the coffee cook the egg? kind of like egg drop soup? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    Justin Wolfe wrote on August 7th, 2013
  2. Thanks for this great recipe. Had mine with 2 Tbs coconut oil. I have been turbo charged all morning. This is the perfect way for me to get my coconut oil in. Thanks heaps.

    mattyb wrote on August 7th, 2013
  3. Read Mark’s primal egg coffee recipe last night and wanted desperately to try it. Chance truly does favor the prepared mind – being unable to go back to sleep at 3:30 AM does have its upside sometimes. What follows is by no means an improvement to Mark’s recipe, it’s just a variation. It was so delicious it had to be written down for future reference – thank you for your inspiring recipe, Mark…1 shot coffee brewed with Aeropress…3 organic egg yolks from un-cracked eggs (Oops! Ended up with a whole egg and 2 yolks because some yolk ended up in one of the whites)…1 tsp sugar (used rounded tsp honey)…1/4 tsp of salt (omitted – it was early and I forgot about it, but want to try salt next time)…3 level flatware tablespoons light coconut milk (too early to locate measuring tools that were put in the wrong place by someone – moi?)…First, feeling paranoid, soaked eggs in Parcell’s Oxygen Soak (1 tsp Clorox in a gallon of water) 20 min while I did aerobics (was trying to work off the melatonin dropped sublingually at 3:30 AM – melatonin can be a big mistake sometimes). Rinsed eggs (even though they should have been soaked in plain water for another 20 min) and brewed coffee (1 scoop medium roast organic through stainless filter, press filled almost to the top with hot water, timed for one minute and then stirred). Separated (most of the) yolks from the whites and plopped them into the blender. Once the coffee was ready, put blender on lowest speed and dumped coffee in as fast as possible. After a few seconds, added that rounded tsp of honey, then blended it too hard. Finally, I poured it, savored it and then wondered whether the overly-abundant head of foam would eventually dissolve into more coffee. Watched foam never liquifies, so I went back to the aerobics after imbibing the LUSCIOUS coffee concoction and writing down the recipe. Can’t think of a better way to start the day! (P.S. Those leftover egg whites are destined to become paleo macaroons for company coming for dinner tonight. Gotta love serendipity!)

    Udichi wrote on August 9th, 2013
  4. Not bad at all, Mark! To be honest, I was a little frightened to try it, as I have never consumed raw eggs. Very creamy and delicious! Thanks for doing what you do!

    @mrdavidkramer wrote on August 9th, 2013
  5. Mark – just tried this for the first time yesterday with hot coffee – used two organic eggs, two tablespoons organic unrefined coconut oil, sprinkle of salt, turmeric, cinnamon & nutmeg, and about a teaspoon of maple syrup. I blended everything but the coffee first and then very slowly drizzled 1.5 cups of coffee in. Oh my, this was heaven in a cup. So frothy and crazy delicious! And it kept me full for close to 5 hours!!!

    Today, I used cold coffee. Yup, super cold -and you know what? It was even yummier and I didn’t have to drizzle it in. I just threw all of it in my blender and let it rip for about 30 seconds.

    I absolutely recommend this drink over the bulletproof coffee, which can make my stomach feel queasy. Oh, and this is my breakfast – no need for anything else! Thank you for the recipe and suggestion. :)

    Mary wrote on August 9th, 2013
  6. Tried for the first time today. I’ve been making bulletproof coffee (the first version of a latte type drink that I could give up milk products for…) and do enjoy that also, but this is less effort, no blender required. I’m sure I’ll be drinking this often.

    Kim wrote on August 9th, 2013
  7. Tried this the day I read it, now instead of eating breakfast I use this as my morning protein shake. It’s amazing, tastes really creamy and minutes after I drink it I’m up and alert.

    I used to drink 3-5 cups of coffee a day, since finding this I drink this in the morning and that’s it the rest of the day and no more 2 o’clock slow down.s

    Casey wrote on August 12th, 2013
  8. Finally, this morning I had the guts and tried my first egg coffee. Did the 2-whole-egg version with a hint of vanilla, and a pinch of salt and xylitol. Oh, well, and a tablespoon of coconut oil. I was really sceptical at first, but WHOAAAAH! :)
    Incredibly creamy, smoothy and not so eggy as I expectad at all! Thanks, Mark, for the inspiration!

    Jay Hay wrote on August 16th, 2013
  9. Try it COLD! I did it with just the egg yolks, tsp of coconut sugar and a tsp of cocoa powder. Blend it…throw some ice cubes in it afterwards! Really good!

    *I brewed the coffee beforehand and chilled in the fridge before blending.

    Michelle wrote on August 27th, 2013
  10. I thought this sounded horrible but I’ll try anything once. I don’t like the taste of butter and I couldn’t see the point of adding coconut/MCT oil- I have a sedentary job and I just don’t need the unnecessary relatively empty calories.
    I am far too lazy to separate eggs unless I know I have an immediate use for both parts. So my simple Paleo Coffee recipe was:
    -1 cup Decaf coffee (just because it was in the evening) brewed strong in a cafetiere
    – 1/2 cup Kako dairy free coconut milk. I find this quite sweet & I don’t usually have my coffee sweetened so I didn’t add any other sweetener
    tiny pinch cinnamon
    -1 fresh free range egg. I don’t mind raw eggs if they’re fresh & free range. I do wash the shells in warm water before cracking.
    I whizzed the coconut milk, egg & cinnamon in a blender. Then I added the hot coffee and briefly blended again. I poured this into a warmed mug (because the final coffee isn’t very hot).
    To my surprise it was delicious! I’m a convert and will definitely do this again, and also experiment with some variations.

    Will wrote on August 29th, 2013
  11. Did this for my breakfast. Thanks for the recipe. I’m normally pretty unimaginative with my coffee, so the taste was a nice surprise. I especially liked the smell when I added some cinnamon. I swear it opened up my sinuses.

    Jam wrote on September 1st, 2013
  12. I am really looking forward to trying this, but all of the blenders (whether full size or single serving) say not to use hot liquids in them. Can you recommend a model that is safe to use with hot liquids? Preferably under $100?

    Kate wrote on September 8th, 2013
  13. Love raw whole eggs in coffee, usually put 5 raw eggs in and pour 2 large cups of coffee in and blend , I usually do that twice a day

    Drew wrote on September 9th, 2013
  14. I don’t know how I missed this one. Guess I’m bringing my vitamix to my studio tomorrow morning. I’ve been putting cacao powder and coconut oil in every cup of coffee but I’m definitely trying this!

    Michael wrote on October 15th, 2013
  15. Just a late check-in to say:

    • Thanks for the interesting idea; I typically love MDA recipes.

    • The Primal Egg Yolk Coffee didn’t really work for me. I felt that the yolks imparted a flavor that didn’t taste quite right in coffee.

    • I’ll be sticking with BPC (using Peet’s, Philz’, or Blue Bottle coffee, though—I found the Bulletproof brand to be only mediocre).

    Grok on!

    Eric Ullman wrote on October 21st, 2013
  16. Any idea of the pros/cons of mixing with cold coffee? I’m living in Hanoi, and travelling, I’d really like to find a primal/bulletproof coffee alternative (quality MCT oil or even butter, let alone grass-fed, is non-existent here) that I can make with limited resources… and to suit the temperature 😛

    Kingston wrote on November 6th, 2013
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  18. It is safe though to have the egg coffee every day, for a female at least?

    Janine wrote on December 3rd, 2013
  19. Wow! I love the bulletproof coffee and look forward to “powering it up” with the eggs. Thanks for the great idea.

    Norm wrote on December 4th, 2013
  20. I know this thread is old but a few weeks ago I experimented with bulletproof coffee. I already had some good quality MCT oil. Bought the Kerrygold my local supermarket. Got my coffee beans online from a company called grounds for Mark I am definitely a cream girl. the coffee was nothing special and I actually had a tough time getting it all down. I originally tried ghee but it tasted like rancid butter. PS the bulletproof coffee seem to pack on pounds even though I only used have a tablespoon of either Kerrygold or MCT or coconut oil. I will stick to my coffee with low fat half and half.I’m starting paleo today. sorry for the random comments. Happy new year

    Danelle Mcminn wrote on December 29th, 2013
    • I use a heaping tablespoon of butter and coconut oil for every cup of coffee (2 a day) and have found that it keeps the pounds off for me. Since winter I’ve been adding an egg to one or both of them for extra protein to keep me warm and still no more pounds added. I can pack on the pounds if I don’t eat enough veggies and protein consistently so I just add a bit more of each. As you can tell I do NOT live to eat, it’s more of a chore so the bulletproof coffee is right up my alley so to speak.
      And thanks for the extra info on the coffee, it didn’t sound like you were disappointed with the coffee company to me in the above comment. :-)

      2Rae wrote on December 29th, 2013

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