Monday, October 11, 2010

Eggshells and Coffee, Who Knew?

Late last night I finished reading Travels with Charley. In 1960, John Steinbeck purchased a heavy duty pickup truck and equipped it with a custom made camper. He and his dog Charley then traveled around the country rediscovering America. This book is about their journey.

This isn't a book review or anything like that, but I did read something that caught my attention. Near the end of the book, Mr. Steinbeck parked his pickup for the night in some remote area of Louisiana, and as he did throughout the book, he invited one of the locals into the camper for a talk about various regional events. On this occasion the author brewed a pot of coffee into which he added an egg white, and strangely, the shell. He then writes, "I know nothing that polishes coffee and makes it shine like that." I have never heard of the practice before, so I looked it up. The paragraph below is representative of most of what I found:

Add a spoonful of eggshells to your coffee grounds for a smooth cup of coffee. The calcium in the eggshell helps to reduce the acidity of coffee and will also help any loose grounds sink to the bottom of the cup. The eggshell and coffee grounds trick is especially helpful when making coffee in an old percolator or in a pot while camping.

Have any of you guys tried this before? I don't currently have a regular coffee maker or I'd give it a go. I'll try adding some eggshells in my French press on my next bike camping trip.


  1. What about the eggwhite?
    Is that like instant breakfast?

  2. I've heard of the egg shells in coffee making before, but I think it was before I developed a taste for coffee. I never really knew its purpose, and had completely forgotten about it. Experimentation time.

  3. I think it must have been that book also where I heard of egg shells in coffee grounds. But I read it probably 25 years ago and I forgot about it and haven't heard of it since.

    I'll have to try that out. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. I've never heard of that before. I'll be curious to see how your experiments go.

  5. limom-Ha, I don't know. I try adding eggshells one time, and then add in an egg white the next.

    Pondero, Big Oak, Apertome-Whoever tries it first needs to write about it.

  6. We have done it for years when making "cowboy coffee"...and to think it took a guy from NC to let a bunch of Texans know how to make Cowboy Coffee. ROFLOL


  7. fascinating...who would have known.

    btw, another good steibeck read: 'log from the sea of cortez'.


  8. 2whls3spds-Thanks for the link Aaron. I've never had cowboy coffee. I went on one camping trip as a child and coffee wasn't on the menu.

    fridaycyclotouriste-I finished reading Cannery Row just before I picked up Travels with Charley. I like what I've read by Steinbeck. I saw The Log from The Sea of Cortez at our local half priced bookstore. I'm going to go back and pick it up. Thanks.

  9. I recently started adding a crushed eggshell to the ground coffee before brewing; it may make the flavor a little smoother, I'm not really sure, but I brew into a glass pot, and the eggshell brew does not leave black scum in the pot. I only make two cups, and sometimes the pot switches off before I drink the second cup. I think the reheated coffee tastes better if it's brewed with eggshell.

    Maybe the eggshell binds oils present in the coffee, or minerals in the water (I'm using filtered tap water). The absence of the scum over a period of days is quite remarkable.

  10. I read Travels with Charley two years ago, having a vague idea of Steinbeck but not having read any of his classics. The overwhelming residue left after the read was the beautiful simplicity of the journey. One man and his dog and the experience of being a witness to new things daily and having the skill to communicate them for the rest of us.