The first time I heard what Bullet Proof Coffee was, I scoffed. I was grossed out. Butter in coffee!? Yuck!
Then a client asked me about “butter coffee” and I scoffed again. I told her it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of – and I’ve heard many stupid health and fitness claims.
Then, one of my Tibetan neighbors asked me if I would like to try “Tibetan tea”, I said “sure, I love tea.” Well, I didn’t love this tea. It was “weird.” It tasted like broth. Very salty broth. It was very salt and I could taste and feel the butter. I don’t like butter.
Tibetan tea is strong black tea with salt and yak butter that has been a popular drink in the Himalayan region of the world for, at least, 2,500 years.
The tea they make in Tibet, Nepal, and other high elevation areas around the Himalayas has many names: po cha, bod ja, cha suma, gur gur, and butter tea.
Drinking butter tea is a regular part of daily life and for these high country people. It is typically served by the bowl and usually drank all day long. Some may drink up to 60 bowls a day. It is well suited for people in high altitudes as the fat content provides plenty of calories for fuel in a region that has meager nutrition choices and caffeine for a little kick. The water and salt help with hydration and the butter also protects the lips from sun and wind damage. This tea is also good for its warming effect on the body in one of the coldest populated areas of the world. Additionally, since the human body loses moisture twice as fast at elevations upward of 10,000 feet, as it does at sea level, the salt and water help to replenish their fluid and balance out electrolytes on a daily basis.
Despite the popularity of butter tea in the Himalayas, it didn’t catch on with other societies until an American entrepreneur, by the name of Dave Asprey, was hiking the Himalayas and suffered altitude sickness. He was nursed back to good health with, you guessed it, butter tea. He found that this tea made him feel great and wanted to share it with his culture. However, since American’s are more fond of coffee than tea, he tried various recipes using coffee.
Dave Aspery discovered that grass-fed butter, coconut oil and a very high quality coffee were the perfect ingredients for his morning cup and it gave him the same benefits as the tea he drank in Tibet. With this conclusion, and his entrepreneurial nature, Asprey founded Bulletproof Coffee.
His brand of coffee also includes a high quality coconut oil concentrate, which he claims gives greater mental focus and abilities.
After learning about Tibetan tea and reading Asprey’s claims about his coffee, I decided I needed to try it. Let me say that it is an aquired taste – especially for someone who has been fat phobic all his life. I have never liked the mouth-feel or taste of fat, but I can’t disregard 2,500 years of Tibetan tea drinkers. I believed they were on to something and I wanted to find out how my body responded to this drink.
I started out slowing with a small amount of butter and coconut oil – about a half of a teaspoon of each. I stirred it into a piping hot cup of coffee and watched the oil float to the top. This didn’t seem right. The mouth-feel was not at all to my liking. How were other people doing this? Oil and water don’t mix.
After looking up the directions for making Bulletproof coffee, I realized that I needed to mix much faster and longer to emulsify the fat molecules so they would mix with the water. The best way to do this is with an electric mixer of some sort.
Since that first discovery, and many botched attempts to mix and not make a mess, I found that I really love this coffee. Let me warn you, blenders usually spin too fast and if you put the lid on it, the hot, buttery coffee will virtually explode out of the container when you press the mix button. Talk about a mess.
I’ve also used a handheld mixer which worked pretty well, if the rotation speed isn’t too fast, or if you have a large enough mixing container. Now I use a small Ninja vessel to mix in and it works very well.
How to Make Your Own
Some tips to help you make butter coffee:
- You don’t need to mix an entire coffee cup if your mixing vessel is small. You could make your mix with half of a cup and then add more coffee to it after the fat is blended in.
- I also recommend warming your mixing container and coffee mug with hot water before you pour the coffee in it. Otherwise you will lose a lot of heat from the coffee. I like hot coffee. I will sometimes mic it for 30 seconds just to top it off.
- Test your mixing system using hot/warm water BEFORE you do it with the real thing (coffee and fat make a mess and are hard to clean up).
I’ve been drinking a version of Bulletproof coffee for about a year and a half now and I love it. I drink it almost every morning as my breakfast. It’s funny, I used to start my day with nothing but fruit until noon. I’ve experimented a lot with eating, especially breakfast and found that if I break my fast (the first meal after many hours) with carbs I feel wonky all day. It blasts my blood sugar and then crashes it and I get hangry within a few hours. This roller coaster of blood sugar continues most of the day even if I eat perfectly from that point on. Eating carbs for breakfast makes me crave carbs the rest of the day. If I start the day by eating carbs, I have to continually feed on them every hour or so to prevent a crash. Eating carbs for breakfast (oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, etc.) is the worst way, I’ve found, to start the day. Well, starting with beer would be worse, but I’ve not tried that.
Consuming my morning meal without carbohydrates, such as drinking butter coffee, allows me to last until noon without ingesting anything else. Plus, when I do eat lunch, it’s not an emergency situation. I feel hungry, but calm and clear-headed and can then make a smart food choice.
Drink Fat, Lose Fat
An unintentional result of drinking my breakfast, is that I’ve lost some body fat. I was not over-fat going into this diet change, but I lost 5 – 8 pounds of padding within the first month of skipping carbs for breakfast, and 18 months later this fluff has not found me.
I usually drink my own roast. I roast my own coffee not because it’s necessary, but because I like the taste better than most other coffees I’ve tasted. You may feel free to use any cofffee you like. A stronger flavored coffee will probably work better, but you make the call. I like a light roast.
To make one large cup of coffee:
- Brew your favorite coffee (I use a French press).
- Add about 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and another tablespoon of grass-fed butter to your mixing container.
- Mix thoroughly and pour into your favorite, warm, coffee mug.
Feel free to microwave your finished beverage if you want it warmer. However, if you’ve prewarmed your vessels, you probably won’t need to.
I was skeptical when I first heard the claims for drinking this kind of coffee. I was skeptical that I would like it and I thought it was a fad that would not last much more than a year. I was wrong.
I don’t see this drink taking off and being available in diners and coffee shops (though I have seen it offered at Whole Foods), but for those of us who like it, we will continue making it in our house as our morning meal.
If you try it, I’d like to hear your opinion.