Bulletproof coffee

Experimenting with Bulletproof Coffee

Rifling through the concept
Posted on January 26th 2015 by Maddie

About time I did an entry on Bulletproof Coffee. It has been on our radar for a while and really seems to be on the upward trend.

Despite Bulletproof Coffee’s popularity, adding butter to the mix is not a new concept.

Dave Asprey invented the term Bulletproof Coffee (BPC). He was inspired after returning to the United States from a trip to Tibet where he drank tea with yak butter.

Trying to recreate the rejuvenating drink he enjoyed, he switched out tea to coffee and added Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil in addition to the unsalted grass-fed butter.

Perfecting his concoction, he released it on his Blog in 2009. Asprey recommends BPC as a breakfast meal replacement. Dave claims it improves performance, focus and promotes weight loss. He himself lost significant weight engaging in an entire BPC regime.

Since 2009 it has rapidly gained popularity with celebrities, fitness gurus and many people hoping to shed a few pounds.

Dissecting Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof Coffee consists of black coffee blended with grass-fed unsalted butter and (MCT) oil. There are a few different variations to this recipe, including substitutes of ghee, coconut oil and Bulletproof trademarked Brain Octane (a concentrated MCT oil).

Writing on it, definitely meant I would have to give it a go. I had difficulty stomaching the idea, yet alone chugging back a butter beverage.

Aversions aside, I understand much of the popularity is owed to beneficial health claims.

Proposed Benefits of BPC

  • Antioxidant Rich
  • Improved Performance
  • All Day Mental Focus
  • Triggers weight loss
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Usually crazy diet fads have me running in the opposite direction, but hey it’s 2015. My own resolutions have been quickly forgotten so why not try something new.

Basic Ingredients

  • 2 cups of freshly brewed coffee. 
  • 2 tablespoons (at least) of grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee 
  • 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil.

Upgraded Coffee?

Asprey recommends using Bulletproof coffee’s trademarked Upgraded beans, boasting that his coffee consists of toxic free green beans containing beneficial antioxidants.

Unfortunately, this claim seems to label all other coffee as less desirable with its self-proclaimed superiority. But, we must owe it to the clever marketing which asserts its product as a pioneer of toxin free coffee. In actuality within the Specialty Coffee world these are quite standard practices.

We, of course used, our own Kick Ass® coffee in our BPC concoction.

Ghee

In my first attempt I used grass-fed ghee which is clarified butter. It’s essentially just butter that has simmered and after has had the milk solids strained and removed. Ghee is still very high in saturated fat, but can be better for those with dairy sensitivities.

MCT Oil

I had never heard of MCT Oil until I read about BPC. Medium Chain Triglycerides are fats that are naturally found in coconut and/or palm kernel oil. Apparently, it’s one of the healthiest fats and they are metabolized differently than other conventional type of fats.

The bottle claims the following effects:

  • Weight Management aid
  • Energy Source
  • Helps retain Lean Muscle Mass
  • Anti-viral – anti-fungal – anti-bacterial

There’s a caution on the bottle which explains to introduce, "MCT-Oil slowly into your diet with 1 tsp/day – sudden high dose taken without food can cause severe stomach cramps". EEK!

Personal Disclaimer

I must admit, my trial was purely for taste. Kicking Horse® Coffee has many followers who subscribe to BPC, and my curiosity inspired me. I didn’t adhere to the complete BPC diet. Most of the testimonials I read had people committing to at least a week before adjusting to the beverage, I confess I gave it much less time.

While I’m disclosing, I should probably add that I drink my coffee black, rarely indulge in lattes or cappuccinos and do prefer my espresso straight, double shot. So, this was really venturing outside my comfort zone.

I also should thank the team at Kicking Horse® Coffee who joined in on some of my testing. I don’t think I gave many a choice. Tom and Steph arrived one morning to me commandeering a blender from the Kicking Horse Café and whipping up the first attempt. After that I moved to the staff lounge forcing taste tests as everyone arrived.

BPC Attempts

First Attempt

  • 8 ounces of Kick Ass® coffee.
  • 1 tbsp of ghee
  • 1 tsp of MCT oil

It looked like a milkshake. Frothy. Creamy. But, don’t be fooled by the appearance. The tactile mouthfeel was overwhelming; heavy and oily. The coffee was completely disguised by the buttery film. To me, it was as if you were simply drinking liquid butter. Going beyond the initial explosion of fat, there were notes of Coffeemate, Ovaltine, malt and Danish butter cookies you get at Christmas time.

Food pairing: Baked potato or toast

Even hours later, I could still feel the texture from the drink coated on my mouth. I actually thought I was going to be ill.

I was ready to completely write it off. But, for the integrity of this entry and to avoid razzing from my coworkers I had to try it again.

Second Attempt

  • 8 ounces of Kick Ass® coffee.
  • 1 tbsp of grass-fed unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil

With this attempt, I decided to make a few substitutions. I’d skip the ghee in favour of grass-fed unsalted butter. I also decided to sub in coconut oil instead of the MCT oil. The warning label was still lurking in the back of my mind. Not to mention, that the MCT bottle pretty much resembled a fuel canister.

I blended up the frothy beverage, all the while trying not let my previous experience cloud my judgement. Doubtful.

I have to admit it was much more palatable. Switching out the ghee gave it a less oily mouthfeel. However, the coffee was lost to the coconut oil. Completely one dimensional the drink simply tasted like a cross between tropical cream and a Bounty bar.

Food pairing: Curried chicken or Thai soup

My Conclusions

I should mention both attempts did nothing to reduce my appetite. Well, except for the first attempt leaving me feeling nauseous.

Performance was not increased and focus was actually reduced. Granted I didn’t adhere to a full BPC diet and barely got close to finishing Attempt Two.

Most of the testimonials I read had people noticing improvements after a week or two. I couldn’t justify carrying this on. I could barely get through an eight ounce glass.

My favourite coffees lose me in their intoxicating aroma. The brightness of the first sip, their complexity of flavour and lingering aftertaste is what I love. I appreciate coffee which can hit all areas of my palate enticing me for more. I enjoy switching up my brands, blends and brewing methods to experience a variety of tastes.

I found Bulletproof Coffee overwhelming, regardless of attempts to alter the recipe. I couldn’t get beyond how it coated my lips and mouth with an oily film which lingered beyond lunch. I realize that BPC is simply not about the coffee. The motivation is on increasing energy levels, weight loss and all-day focus. Understandable, just don’t mess with my coffee.

However, flavours are subjective. There is something for everyone. That’s the awesome thing about coffee, a variety of roasts, brewing methods, additives (butter!), and we all have the ability to personalize our very own cup.

I want to know more about Mycotoxins. So, I’ve decided in February to dedicate an entry to explaining their origins in food products, our own meticulous Quality Control at Kicking Horse® Coffee and the tight regulations Canada has put in place.