May 23, 2018
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Guide Coffee: Culinary theater in the Maine woods

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

Armed with a “hookaroon,” a coffee pot and a magic mixture, Registered Maine Guide Randy Spencer delights clients with this regional specialty throughout fishing season. Out west, the same concoction might be called “Cowboy Coffee,” but around Grand Lake Stream, which boasts the highest per capita rate of registered guides in the state, it’s Guide Coffee.

Remarkably simple to prepare, the brew is downright tasty. Just don’t spend too much time looking at that muddy raft of floating coffee grounds … or the egg that holds them all together.

Step 1: The pot matters. Grand Lake Stream guides swear by pots that have a spout that’s even with the pot’s top. That allows the coffee to cook with a “rolling boil.”

Step 2: Mix your coffee grounds in a Ziplock bag or other receptacle — Spencer uses five or six regular scoops for a party of six — and toss in an egg. A raw egg. In the shell. Yes, you heard correctly.

Step 3: Break the egg with a sharp rap of your hookaroon — the well-worn tool that you use to remove the pot from the fire — then knead the egg and grounds. Add a splash of lake water. Keep kneading until you have a dark, moist mixture. “[Some sports] think that you dumped the nightcrawlers into [the pot],” Spencer says.

Step 4: Into a pot of boiling water, dump your mixture. Put the pot back close to the fire, so that you have a “rolling boil,” from back to front.

“It forms a raft of grinds that floats,” Spencer explains. And the egg yolk adheres to the grounds and forms this raft that floats as long as the water is boiling”

Step 5: After 20 minutes or so, remove pot from heat. The raft of grounds and egg will sink to the bottom of the pot. Let rest for a minute or so, and pour coffee into cups.”You come to recognize the color of the coffee for your preference,” Spencer says. “Some people want to be able to stand the hookaroon up in the coffee pot. Others, not so much.”


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