Carrots, Eggs and Coffee Beans


Here is an old story about carrots, eggs and coffee beans. Lately, there have been a lot of people around me going through some tough times. This is a good life story.

Carrots, Eggs and Coffee Beans

A young woman went to her mother and explained that life was very hard for her. She didn’t know how she was going to survive and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling, and it seemed that each time one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen, filled three pots with water and placed each pot on a high fire. Soon, the pots came to a boil. In the first pot she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed a pouch of ground coffee beans.

In about 20 minutes, the mother of the young woman turned off the burners. She fished out the carrots and the eggs and placed them in separate bowls. She then ladled out the coffee, which had resulted from the coffee beans in the third pot, and poured it into another bowl. Turning to her daughter, she instructed, “Tell me what you see.”

“I see carrots, eggs and coffee,” the young woman replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. Upon feeling the carrots, the young woman noted that they were soft. Her mother then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed a hard-boiled egg.

Finally, her mother asked her to sip the coffee. The young woman smiled as she inhaled the coffee’s inviting aroma and savored the taste of its rich flavor.

Then she asked, “But, what does it mean, Mom?”

Her mother explained to her that each of the objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. However, each reacted very differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting but, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior but, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans, on the other hand were unique. After being subjected to the boiling water, they had actually changed the water.

“So,” the older woman asked her daughter, “which one are you? When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

So, it’s time to ask yourself, Which am I? Do I seem strong but then become soft and lose my strength when faced with pain and adversity, like the carrot?

Am I more like the egg? Did I start out start out with a malleable heart and a fluid spirit that became hardened or stiff after the death of someone close to me, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial? Does my shell look the same, even though I’ve become cold and tough on the inside?

Or, am I closer in character to the coffee bean, which releases its fragrance and flavor when faced with hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain? In other words, when things are at their worst, do I make things better by changing the situation around me?

When the hour is darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Icelanders love their coffee hot and strong.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to make you happy, and . . . May we all be COFFEE BEANS!


Icelandic Roots is a non-profit, educational, heritage organization specializing in genealogy, history & traditions of our Icelandic ancestors.

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