Kaffegök with ingredients
Kaffegök with ingredients

 My great-great-grandfather, Nels Lindquist, and his family immigrated through Ellis Island to Chicago in 1893, bringing the Swedish Kaffegök, pronounced like yourk, with them. Kaffegöks are Sunday-morning drinks made with coffee and vodka. The coffee is poured over a penny until you cannot see the penny, then vodka is added until the penny is visible again. Nels substituted more readily available whiskey for vodka and added butter and sugar for sweetness and creaminess, calling his altered drink a yurk.  Growing up, my grandfather watched his father, uncles, and grandfather sip yurks weekly. In a Chicago of new sights, smells, and tastes, yurks were a source of familiarity and comfort, transporting them back to memories of their homeland. My grandpa drank his first yurk at twelve, gaining a sensory bond with his grandparents. I watched my grandpa and mom drink yurks when my family visited, and always begged to try their drinks, instantly spitting out the acidic coffee. My non-Swedish grandma, who finds the taste of yurks awful, commiserated in my disgust. Recently, my mom and I made yurks on our own. My first sip recalled the bitter remembrance of my childhood, but as I sampled more, I experienced the complex flavors of mingling creaminess and acidity. I felt connected to my ancestors as I tasted the same flavors they did. I hope that I will continue the tradition of a coffee yurk on special occasions and pass down the Swedish love for this flavor to my own descendants.        

Place(s): Sweden, Chicago
Year: 1893

– EE

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more