I Tried It: The Korean Egg Cappuccino

December  5, 2017

As a puny fourth grader, I watched Rocky Balboa down a glass of raw eggs. In the movie’s opening scene, the soon-to-be prize fighter cracks four (four!) uncooked eggs into a plastic cup. Without cooking, heating, even whisking them, he knocks them back with a few swift and deep gulps. As a child—and semi-adult—I shuddered at the scene. Now, I’m no heavyweight champion, but a recent morning saw me, like Mr. Balboa himself, engaging in a little pre-breakfast raw egg consumption. And to my surprise, I enjoyed it.

My inquiry began after watching a video of curious New Yorkers sipping cappuccinos laced with raw egg yolk. The delight comes from behind the bar of Round K, a Korean coffee chain in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Naturally, I headed out to try it.

The drink is not without context. It’s couched in a Korean tradition from the '60s and '70s, drawing inspiration from a popular drink served at dabangs (coffee shops). Round K’s version is only an interpretation of the original drink which was made from instant coffee, a pinch of salt, a raw egg yolk, sesame oil, and pine nuts or walnuts. The loaded drink was intended to energize its drinkers as well as leave them feeling satiated.

My very own. Photo by Valerio Farris

At Round K, baristas whisk a shot of espresso and a (slightly boiled) egg yolk, then top it with frothed cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. From above, the drink reveals no underlying secret. However, after one sip I notice the difference. The coffee is intensely creamier, robust in texture and flavor. It isn't bitter, and I don't even need to add sugar. I sip slowly, not cautiously, but methodically. It feels heavier than a normal coffee in my mouth, but nothing so different.

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I'd get it again. And I'd tell someone else to try it. It's an inventive and novel spin, for sure, and deserves the hype. I did not feel ready to run triumphantly around the city of Philly, or even around the Lower East Side, but Round K's egg yolk coffee did keep me feeling warm and full a little bit longer.

Would you give this coffee a whirl? Let us know where you stand in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Paula K. December 6, 2017
When you consider the ingredients for a mocha pudding or custard, this sounds like a quicker, sippable version. That can't be a bad thing!
Stephanie B. December 5, 2017
Doesn't sound bad to me - reminds me of adding zabaglione to espresso.