Buttered Coffee: What It Is & How It Works

Buttered Coffee: What It Is & How It Works

7 minute read

Somewhere between 2004 and 2009, a man named Dave Asprey travelled to Tibet to climb Mount Kailash. One bitterly cold day he sought shelter at a guesthouse and was given a cup of tea. Now this wasn't your run-of-the-mill Red Rose kind of tea with milk. This was a highly unusual brew––unusual in the West, that is––because it was made with yak butter. Sounds appetizing, right? He'd been experiencing signs of altitude sickness, which has uncomfortable symptoms like headache, nausea, and in some cases, disorientation. But after drinking the tea, Dave noticed a marked improvement in how he felt. That began his quest to discover what it was about this mysteriously tea that made him feel so much better. That discovery was the beginning of his Bulletproof Coffee enterprise.

What is Bulletproof Coffee?

MCT oil, butter and coffee in spoonYou’d never think of coffee, oil, and butter as a balanced breakfast, but from a fat and calories perspective that’s precisely how buttered coffee is regarded in the weight loss community. It's intended to give you enough caloric sustenance to curb hunger, and a good boost of healthy fats to fuel your brain. Many people swear by its ability to alleviate brain fog and increase cognitive performance. Indeed, many purveyors of generic Bulletproof coffee hail its nootropic benefits that result from the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in pure, unrefined coconut oil. 

We’ll get into each of the ingredients, but first––did you know that most commercially-produced coffee beans contain mold?

One of the primary claimed benefits of trademarked Bulletproof coffee is its upgraded beans. Most coffee beans contain mycotoxins, naturally occurring molds that contaminate foods grown in warm, humid conditions. They are toxic and potentially harmful when consumed. Mild symptoms include brain fog and crankiness. 

Ideally, a pure Bulletproof coffee uses these upgraded trademarked beans that are free of mycotoxins––but it doesn't have to. If you're getting your beans or grounds from a trusted organic source that uses wet processing, there's probably less risk that they're contaminated with mold (check out what Joe Rogan had to say about mycotoxins). 

So, how do you make Bulletproof-inspired coffee?

2 1/2 tablespoons of ground coffee

6-8 ounces of filtered water

1 tsp - 2 tbsp of MCT oil

1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted ghee or butter

Brew the coffee then add the oil and butter using an emulsifier or immersion blender to integrate the oils and water and create a luscious, frothy texture.  

How Does Bulletproof Coffee Work?


In addition to disease-fighting antioxidants, coffee contains caffeine. We all know how caffeine affects our nervous system––we become more alert and ready to tackle the day. The caffeine in coffee also boosts your metabolism and helps your body burn fat for energy. Adding in good fats, such as those found in MCT oil and butter, gives your body and brain a more substantial fuel and a feeling of fullness.

MCT oil is made from refined coconut oil and is composed of medium-chain triglycerides, or fatty acids. The main ones are C6––caproic acid or hexanoic acid, C8––caprylic acid or octanoic acid, C10––capric acid or decanoic acid and C12––lauric acid or dodecanoic acid. While all that sounds a bit technical, the skinny on these types of fatty acids is their ability to accelerate weight loss. 

Unlike long-chain fatty acids, MCTs head straight to the liver where they're rapidly metabolized and used as an instant source of energy, or they’re transformed into ketones. That's why Bulletproof coffee is a popular part of the keto diet. MCT oil helps with weight loss because the body doesn’t store it. Further, ketones cross the blood-brain barrier, which explains why Bulletproof coffee is a reported nootropic.

MCT oil is present in unrefined coconut oil, but in lower amounts than in processed versions. The trade-off with refined versions however, is possible contamination during processing. You have to exercise a bit of caution when introducing your body to MCT oil. Because your body digests it so quickly, it may present some gastrointestinal issues. Start small and gradually increase it as your body adapts. 

In addition to coffee and coconut oil, butter is an active component of bulletproof coffee. Butter from grass-fed cows is a better option because it contains less omega 6s and 9s––fats we should consume in moderation. Grass-fed butter also contains butyrate and nutrients like vitamin A, beta-carotene, and CLA, a fatty acid with weight loss benefits.

What’s The Deal With Ghee?

Do you have to use ghee to make Bulletproof coffee? No––but it's better. Ghee is butter that has had the water and milk solids extracted from it through a slow cooking process. Many people have a sensitivity to lactose, whey, or casein, and ghee doesn't contain any of them. Ghee is a more pure, nutrient-dense butter that has a richer butter flavor, making it a superb butter replacement for Bulletproof coffee. Learn more about ghee here.

Bulletproof Coffee Benefits

According to Dave Asprey, Bulletproof coffee provides "unbelievable, sustained all-day energy and focus with a complete lack of food cravings and hunger, without the coffee crash and jitters." Keep in mind he’s also selling a product. It has definite health benefits, but like anything, it will affect different people in different ways and your body needs time to adapt.

Weight Loss, Cellular Renewal & Longevity

It’s a huge enterprise, so you've probably heard about how Bulletproof coffee supports weight loss. But you may not know that it's ideal for those who are into intermittent fasting (IF), a diet structure that restricts eating or feeding as some like to call it, to an 8-hour window. That means you’re going 16 hours on an empty stomach, which isn’t all that bad if those hours occur while you’re sleeping. 

Bulletproof coffee makes an excellent breakfast substitute for the IF'er because of the highly satiating fat content. Fat is the only macronutrient that doesn’t stimulate the release of insulin, so you can consume it and remain in a fasted state. 

Buttered coffee also boosts autophagy, a metabolic process that occurs as a result of several hours of fasting. Autophagy is like the body's cellular clean-up system. It removes those lazy cells that don't make any beneficial contribution to the body’s optimal functioning, making space for new, strong cells to proliferate. In that way, Bulletproof coffee and intermittent fasting together inspire longevity.

Keep in mind that Bulletproof coffee may be an effective temporary breakfast substitute for weight loss, but it lacks the full spectrum of nutrients that the body requires for optimal functioning. 

Cognitive Performance

Your brain is largely composed of fatty acids. Myelin, the fiber that insulates nerves, is made up of fatty acids and proteins, and it enables quick and effective transmission of electrical signals along nerve cells. So, we need adequate dietary fat to maintain the efficiency of these impulses that help us assimilate new information. We can see this at work in the infant brain, which relies on the high-fat content of breastmilk for rapid development. 

But the brain needs the right type of fat. Bulletproof coffee is loaded with good fats present in grass-fed butter and MCT oil. Omega-3 fatty acids enhance synaptic function by increasing plasticity, which leads to better concentration, reduced brain fog, and improved memory. When these fats are paired with the adrenaline boosting effect of coffee, we have a brain supercharger that helps us work harder and more efficiently.

Do you have a proper butter keeper? Both ghee and butter last longer at room temperature when protected from air and light. Check out our deluxe butter dish with lid here.

From our kitchen to yours, happy butter brewed brain-boosted mornings!

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