Recently it’s come into vogue to add butter to coffee.
Sounds pretty bad, right?
The practice is actually fairly old – For years, Tibetans have added Himalayan salt and a small slab of yak butter to their tea. Tibetan monks depend on the butter tea to provide both warmth and a source of calories to stave off the consequences of living in freezing mountain conditions. American Dave Asprey first experienced the tea while trekking through the Himalayas, and he decided to bring the idea back to the United States. To appeal to American tastes, he substituted coffee for tea.
What’s the point?
According to Asprey, drinking butter in coffee will provide energy (in the form of caffeine) while diminishing hunger and cravings. Despite the drink having roughly 200 calories per serving, it is believed that long-term consumption will result in weight loss. After all, the Tibetan monks are not overweight!
Not all butters make the cut. Since yak butter is hard to come by at your neighborhood grocery store, Asprey recommends unsalted, grass-fed butter. The higher quality, the better — as it has offers more nutrients.
Luckily, Dave Asprey has made things more convenient for us by marketing his own Bulletproof brand of coffee. It comes with grass-fed, unsalted Kerrygold butter and a coconut fat derivative — all blended together with an espresso shot. According to the Bulletproof web site, the coconut fat derivative increases brain energy, while the butter boasts “all the benefits of healthy milk fat with none of the damaging denatured casein proteins found in cream.”
Is it worth it?
According to this article in the Irish Times, Dave “eats 4,500 calories a day, and although he has not exercised in more than two years,” his world-class anti-aging physician has put him in “the lowest percentile for diabetes risk, heart disease, and cancer, despite being a high risk for all of those” just 10 years prior. Now? He claims, “‘I have lower triglyceride levels than most anyone I know.'”
Are there other opinions?
“From a medical view, the history of stimulants for weight loss is unreservedly bad,” says endocrinologist and obesity specialist, Professor Donal O’Shea.
“At breakfast time, you need protein. I’d rather see someone get 200 calories of protein rather than this drink,” says pediatric nutritionist and dietitian Keith Ayoob in this boston.com article on butter coffee.
OK, so what does it taste like?
We didn’t buy Dave’s product, and we didn’t have grass-fed butter in our refrigerator, but we did make our own butter coffee by adding a pat of unsalted butter to a cup of black coffee.
- First Impression: It was fun putting the pat of butter into the coffee and watching it slowly melt – not as fun as watching half and half swirl around and slowly become one with the coffee, but more fun like throwing a piece of paper onto a fire and watching it slowly catch fire.
- Second Impression: I noticed the butter basically forms a layer of fat across the surface of the coffee after it melts. Stirring doesn’t help.
- Third Impression/Taste Test: Honestly, not very bad at all. It did not taste fatty and greasy (like the tongue in the photo below), and the fat gave the coffee more body.
- Conclusion: It was a fun experiment, and butter could definitely suffice as a substitute for half and half in the future, but black coffee or coffee with half and half is preferable.