How to Use Eggshells in Coffee to Tame Your Brew

Last updated on May 12th, 2023 by Jules Winnfield

eggshells in coffee

In order to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee in the comfort of their own home, connoisseurs of coffee go to great lengths to create balance. Coffee is by its very nature bitter, and that can be a turn off when you are reaching for your morning pick-me-up. 

If you are looking for the perfect cup of Joe, you probably would not consider the idea of including eggshells in coffee as you brew, but if you were a cowboy out on the wild range, you might feel a little differently.

So it’s time to saddle up and consider this trick of adding eggshells in coffee so you can create the perfect, balanced cup of coffee!

A long standing tradition from the time when cowboys were making coffee over an open campfire is to put eggshells in with the coffee grounds. Although it might sound outlandish to modern day coffee drinkers, there are a few reasons why cowboys put their used eggshells in coffee.

And even though most people are no longer out on the open range, you can still benefit from using this technique in the comfort of your own home. 

Cowboy Technique 

Cowboy Technique
Do not just throw away your empty egg shells.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

No one had room for a drip coffee maker out on the open prairies, so when it came time for morning coffee, boiling the coffee in a pot over an open fire was the answer. But boiling the coffee grounds right in the pot would often lead to bitter tasting coffee. This is because the tannins would release the acidic nature of the coffee beans into the boiling water.

In order to counteract the bitterness, eggshells were added. The eggshells were going to be thrown away anyway after the eggs were eaten. Instead, using them in the boiling coffee did the trick of reducing bitterness because of their alkaline nature.

The alkaline eggshells toned down the bitterness of the coffee, and putting eggshells into the water with the coffee grounds would make for a more mellow cup of coffee on the open trail. Eggshells are composed of calcium carbonate for the most part, and this alkaline substance is the perfect balance to the acidic nature of the coffee.

The eggshells were also helpful in getting the coffee grounds to sink to the bottom, making them easier to strain away from the liquid coffee itself when it was time to pour. Even though most people make coffee in a drip coffee maker today and don’t need to worry about pushing the grounds to the bottom, the first use of eggshells, to reduce coffee bitterness, is definitely still in play. 

Replicating the Range

Replicating the Range
You can use egg shells in more ways than you think.
Photo by Stoica Ionela

If you want to try the cowboy technique at home, or you are a camper that is going to be making some coffee on an open fire, you can use these tricks too! You might be wondering if you can get the same results in a drip coffee maker, and the answer is yes.

If you like a mellower cup of coffee or you think your last few pots have been bitter, crumble some eggshells in coffee grounds and taste the difference following these steps.

Step 1:

  • Make sure you use eggshells that have not yet been cooked, such as those left behind from fried eggs or eggs used in baking.
    • This is because eggshells that are boiled let off a sulfur taste that can ruin the taste of your coffee.

Step 2:

  • Before you use the eggshells, ensure that they are sterilized by putting them in a low heat oven for a few minutes or microwaving them.
  • This will keep your coffee safe from salmonella or other impurities.

Step 3:

  • Use one eggshell for each cup of coffee you are making, which is the suggested ratio.
  • Crumble it into your coffee grounds and brew as you normally would from your drip coffee maker

Egg-cellent for Cleaning

Egg-cellent for Cleaning
Have an egg-cellent day!
Photo by Haley Hamilton

In addition to creating a more mellow cup of Joe, eggshells can also be used for cleaning! They are mildly abrasive, so when you are done drinking your coffee, sprinkle a few eggshells in your cup and fill it with water. They will take care of any possible coffee stains before they start.

The calcium in the eggshells can also help you clean your water bottle. Sprinkle the eggshells, add water, and then shake to get some mild abrasive action to clean the inside of the water bottle. 

Garden with Style

If you are a gardener, the combination of used coffee grounds and eggshells simply can’t be beat. As you know, seeds do not flourish in plain soil, but need some fertilizer to help them along. Most fertilizer contains phosphorus, potassium, and a healthy boost of nitrogen which helps promote lush vegetative growth. 

Rather than worry about purchasing fertilizer that might also contain chemicals you do not want, consider coffee grounds, which release nitrogen as they are brewed. This is a great way to reuse your spent grounds without spending a lot of money on fertilizer

The eggshells add another element that is commonly found in fertilizer: calcium. This is extremely beneficial for plants such as peppers and tomatoes that need to grow strong stems.

In order to get the most calcium from your eggshells, crush them into a fine powder before using them in your garden. You can crush the eggshells with a pestle and mortar, a blender, or even your coffee grinder. Once the eggshells are crushed, the calcium will be able to be used more easily by the plants as they grow. 

Final Thoughts

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best, and there is nothing better than a steaming cup of coffee. Make your coffee better by removing the bitter with a simple eggshell fix. And if that isn’t enough, those same eggshells can be used to clean any lingering coffee stains on mugs, or buildup on water bottles.

Finally, your garden plants will be happier and more resilient with eggshells in coffee grounds added to the mix. Instead of shelling out a bunch of cash for fertilizer, coffee grounds and eggshells will add much needed nitrogen and calcium to your plants. The cowboys had it right all along at the campfire ring: eggshells can be reused in a variety of helpful ways.


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