People have a lot of opinions about how to make the best cuppa: dark or light roast, pour over or espresso, black or with cream, sugar or no sugar. Besides the debate on proper preparation strategies, the age-old controversy on coffee’s healthiness quotient looms large as well. And just to throw a curveball into all this coffee talk, a new trend has emerged on the coffee scene: bulletproof coffee, also known as butter coffee.
Dave Asprey, the man behind the dominant brand of butter coffee, Bulletproof coffee, took a page from a staple of Tibetan cuisine, yak tea. It was a beverage Asprey found restorative while hiking in Tibet—and biohacker that he is, he needed to know why.
Turns out, adding easily digestible fat to your coffee, he claims, suppresses hunger, promotes weight loss and provides mental clarity, and boosts energy. The catch? Not only do you have to add butter and other fat to your coffee, the bulletproof coffee is your only breakfast. Nothing else. The taste is not as big an issue as it may seem—many people actually swear by the taste, testifying that the flavor profile is quite similar to a latte, albeit a greasy one.
Asprey’s formulation calls for his own branded low mold coffee beans (the necessity of which is highly disputed), grass fed, unsalted butter and one to two tablespoons of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, a type of easily digestible extract of coconut oil. (Many people adapt the recipe for use with conventional coffee, and swap in regular coconut oil.)
But the real question is whether buttered coffee is a healthy substitute for breakfast. Many nutritionists will tell you not to believe the hype. In a New York Times article on the subject, Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University, is quoted as saying “This is not a breakfast of champions.” While it does have fat, the coffee is lacking protein as well as variety of vitamins and minerals.
Lack of nutrition aside, bulletproof coffee may put a little extra pep in your step—and perhaps support weight loss. Fat slows digestion, so in theory the butter and coconut oil could slow the absorption of caffeine into the bloodstream. This could make for a prolonged energy boost, instead of a jolt and then crash. And it could help you feel fuller, so you can skip breakfast without going double down at lunch.
Intrigued? Here’s a bulletproof coffee recipe to get you started:
Homemade Bulletproof Coffee
1 cup organic coffee
1 tsp. coconut oil (or use 2-3, if desired)
1 Tbsp. organic grass-fed unsalted butter
¼ tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Process on high speed for 20 seconds until frothy, and voila: a new coffee experience awaits.