The last thing anyone would think of putting in their coffee is butter and oil. That seems a little audacious, considering that just adding sugar and creamer to your coffee gets death stares from baristas nowadays.
So who in their right mind would want to add ingredients best used to make cakes or deep-fry chicken to their coffee? Quite a number of folk, apparently.
The mixture is called “bulletproof coffee” – a blend of espresso, grass-fed butter and MCT oil.
The craze started in the United States in late 2013 and finally, it has hit our shores and bulletproof coffee is slowly garnering a fanbase in Malaysia.
Adding butter to beverage is not a new idea. The Tibetans have been doing it for ages. In fact, Dave Asprey, the creator of Bulletproof Coffee company, found the inspiration for his concoction in Tibet.
On his website (www.bulletproofexec.com), Asprey writes that he first learned the power of adding butter to one’s poison of choice at 18,000 feet above sea level near Mount Kailash.
“I staggered into a guest house from the -10°C weather and was literally rejuvenated by a creamy cup of yak butter tea. I asked, ‘why?’ and after a couple years of careful research, that was the genesis of the recipe.”
Asprey also claims in various interviews, such as the one with Bloomberg.com in April this year, that the bulletproof coffee turns human bodies into fat-burning machines, promotes healthy weight loss, eliminates hunger pangs and even improves our mental focus and brain power.
He suggests that we should replace our breakfast meals with just a cup of bulletproof coffee, as it will keep us satisfied with level energy for six hours and won’t induce caffeine-crashes in the middle of the day.
Those are some very bold claims that Asprey has made with a cup of oily coffee.
Anyway, haven’t we always been told that too much fat is bad for health and what in the world is MCT oil? (Grass-fed butter, in case you are wondering, is just butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows, that is to say, cows fed the food they are naturally meant to eat.)
Expert fats researcher Mary Enig explains in her book, Know Your Fats, that MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides and is not an oil found in nature. It is extracted mostly from coconut oil via an industrial process called “fractionation”. Another word for triglycerides is fatty acids.
Coconut oil contains four primary medium-chain fatty acids – lauric acid, caprylic acid, capric acid and caproic acid.
Lauric acid is the star component in coconut oil and is prized as a powerful antimicrobial agent, used in both food preservation as well as in drugs and nutraceuticals. However, lauric acid, with all its goodness, is missing in the marketed MCT oil (used in bulletproof coffee). Asprey believes that MCT oil (without lauric acid) is better than coconut oil while others may question how a product that has the most dominant fatty acid removed from the original product is considered healthier.
The oiliness of the coffee is something one has to get used to.
That is why some baristas insist on replacing MCT oil with coconut oil when making bulletproof coffee.
Bungkus, at Empire Damansara in Petaling Jaya, is one of the cafes that makes bulletproof coffee with extra virgin coconut oil instead of MCT oil. Firstly, it is because coconut oil is easier and cheaper to obtain here.
Dawn Banaga, barista at Bungkus, first learned of bulletproof coffee from her previous employer who was a health hound and regularly consumed the coffee to aid his weight loss programme.
“My then boss said that it really helped him stay alert and energised the whole day. He took the coffee in the morning, and said that it is advisable only to drink it once a day. He added that some coffee lovers take it when they’re working late to keep them awake throughout the night,” said Dawn.
The barista makes bulletproof coffee by blending 90ml medium roast espresso, one to two tablespoons of grass-fed butter and 30ml extra virgin coconut oil in a blender for less than a minute. The end product is thick, very creamy and frothy. It is sold at RM14.90 per cup.
The blend of coffee, butter and coconut oil produces a unique aroma (a friend asked if I was drinking curry from a coffee cup!) which may be off-putting for some coffee drinkers.
The taste? Well, if you like your coffee oily and really creamy, then this is the one for you. However, it is best consumed hot because the butter solidifies when the coffee gets cold, and the drink turns ugly.
“Not many people order it for its taste, to be honest. They drink it because of the claim that it gives energy and helps them to lose weight,” Dawn said.