21 Days of Bulletproof Coffee

What is it? 

Bulletproof Coffee is hot brewed coffee with the addition of grass-fed butter and Medium Chain Triglyceride oil (MCT). Yak butter tea has been part of Tibetan life dating back before the 10th century.  Dave Asprey has since made it popular in the states and has an entire line of coffee and MCT oils. 

Why Would I Do it? 

Most people drink coffee for the energy boost. Its caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain which in turn improves mood and brain function. Coffee is also loaded with nutrients and antioxidants such as Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Niacin and Manganese. It has even been reported to lower the risk of Type II Diabetes, liver cancer, Alzheimers and Parkinson's. Quality butter is chock full of antioxidants and vitamins. It also contains Butyrate, an anti-inflammatory acid. Not long ago, saturated fat was made out to be the the Satanic force that causes heart attacks. It has since been shown it can actually improve your blood lipid profile, raising levels of the desired HDL cholesterol. MCTs are a fat found in coconut oil and have been show be an efficient fuel source for the body. They also have beneficial effects on your hormone balance and metabolism. 

Won’t All That Fat Make me Fat? 

Well, technically, anything you eat can make you fat. Fat is fuel and depending on the type, often a more efficient and steady burning one compared to carbohydrates. But here’s the rub: if you are also eating sugars or even a lot of complex carbs, your body will opt to burn those first, increasing the likelihood of that dietary fat being stored as potential energy for a later date, aka body fat. Bulletproof coffee and nutrition plans with higher fat percentages work best with intermittent fasting and low carb diets. Ketogenic diets are a version of this where the body starts generating ketones for the brain to use in place of the absent glucose. This is all part of an effort to have the body adapt to burning fats for fuel as opposed to carbohydrates - including the fat on your body. On a low carb intermittent fasting program, Bulletproof coffee gets me through my first four hours before having a protein shake. 

21 Days Later

I can't say that it made me feel exceptionally lit up in a cerebral way. Any high quality brewed coffee is scientifically proven to give you a brain boost but adding butter and oil didn't make it magical for me. All the fat definitely filled me up more than a cup of joe with a splash of cream. It was an especially nice base to have in my belly in lieu of food before hitting a workout. A lot of it comes down to personal taste. Butter and oil tend to make for a very rich beverage - way to rich for many people's taste first thing in the morning. Three weeks of it was enough for me and I now rotate it in as an occasional break from coffee or tea. If you'd like to give it a try, read on for all the details. 

Do the Type of Ingredients Matter? 

Absolutely. There has been quite a bit of controversy over the mycotoxins that may or not be in most in coffee (likely not), but that doesn’t mean that there is still lots of crap coffee out there. It is common to get additives and burned beans, so shop around and find something you like. Starting with Organic and Fair Trade are good bets. Coffee’s bad rap is also due to the junk people often put in it, such as artificial sweetens, creamers or bastardizing it into a Frappucchino.  As for the butter, it absolutely has to come from hormone free, grass-fed cows. If you live in a state that still allows raw dairy, that’s an even better and more nutritious bet. When animals eat chemical laden feed and are pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, the fat ends up with the highest concentration of this poison. When it comes to fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy, you should always get the highest quality natural option. Most of the MCT oil I’ve tried is pretty comparable. Just make sure it comes in a dark bottle since it is sensitive to UV light and can easily go rancid like all other oils. 

What Gear Did You Use? 

  • Coffee: Different types of coffees work for different folks. I know guys who swear by Starbucks. To me, it always tastes bitter and makes me feel cracked out before the inevitable crash. When possible, I like meeting the people that make the stuff I’m putting in my body. Hence the cool thing about farmer’s markets. I’m currently drinking a very tasty and high quality coffee called Renegade Roast
  • Raw Grass-fed Butter: My go to choice is Organic Pastures Raw Grass-fed Butter. The OMGhee clarified grass-fed butter is also fantastic. Many conventional grocery stores also stock Kerrygold grass-fed butter. 
  • MCT Oil: As mentioned, just go with a generally reputable brand that uses a dark container to block the UV. I usually use Now Sports or Vitacost. 
  • Grinder: Is it worth it to grind a single serving of coffee just prior to making it? Absolutely. Grinding is simply creating more surface area for the extraction process of brewing. Once the bean is broken open, the coffee oils are released along with all the flavor and nutrients. Oxidation begins immediately and in only 15 minutes after grinding, the coffee will lose about 60% of it’s aroma. A fast and inexpensive way to grind coffee is with a blade grinder, though coffee snobs will scoff at the uneven consistency it produces. Ceramic burr grinders are considered the best since they produce a much more even result. If you don’t want to drop a small fortune on an electric version, try this awesome ceramic burr hand grinder that conveniently stores inside the plunger of the Aeropress. This process also doubles as a little workout before brewing your coffee. 
  • Aeropress: From the mind that brought you the Aerobie Frisbee, comes this very unique coffee brewing device. For good reason, this tool has developed a cult-like following for producing a superb tasting cup of coffee. Other benefits include an attractive price, quick prep time and ease of cleanup. I was a big pour over guy until finally buying one of these. 
  • Thermometer: It sounds silly, but getting the water the right temperature has a huge impact on the taste of your coffee. Think about getting your oven the right temperature before putting in a cake Too hot and it'll burn, not hot enough and it’ll be raw in the middle. There are all sorts of fancy electric kettles that will bring the water to a specific temperature, but a thermometer works as well. A good probe thermometer with an alarm is a nice kitchen tool to have around or a simple wand version works as well. 
  • Food Scale: This is a generally good thing to have on hand in your kitchen, but not totally necessary for this. The Aeropress comes with a scoop. The scoop holds about 15g of coffee. About 15g makes a cup. Using it for a single cup of coffee will make you look like a legit pretentious SF barista. 
  • Magic Bullet: Massive high powered blenders like the Blendtec or Vitablend produce the best results but sound like a jet taking off in your kitchen and are cumbersome to clean. This little blender is perfect for a single serving of something like coffee or a protein shake. it’s plenty powerful enough to emulsify the butter and oil, cleans up in seconds and about one seventh the cost of a large professional blender. 

How Do You Make It? 

  1. Fill the blender jar with hot tap water. This will prevent the coffee from cooling and greatly reduces the chance of the plastic cracking when blending the hot liquid. 
  2. Start heating up your filtered water to brew the coffee. 
  3. Swish one of the paper filters into the blender jar filled with hot tap water. This will get out any residual flavor in the paper left from the manufacturing process. Place it into the holder and secure onto the bottom of the Aeropress brewing vessel. 
  4. Put 2 Aeropress scoops, or 30g of coffee into your grinder. Grind it to something in-between an espresso grind (very fine) and a pour over grind (course). In an electric blade grinder, I have found this to be about 15 seconds. If it is too fine, it will require a lot of force to plunge the water through the Aeropress. If it is too course, there will be little resistance when you press. 
  5. Using the included funnel, pour the ground coffee into the Aeropress brewing vessel. Give it a little shake to level the coffee. Don’t forget to take a big whiff. 
  6. Pour the tap water out of your blender jar and add in 1-2 Tbsp of the butter and 1 Tbsp of MCT. You can experiment with both of these amounts. It’s better to error on the side of caution with the MCT. It can take your stomach a little bit of time to get used to and when combined with caffeine, it can produce a phenomenon dubbed “Disaster Pants”. No further explanation needed. 
  7. Put the coffee-packed Aeropress vessel on top of your blender jar. Check your water temperature for 175F and fill half of the brewing vessel. Give it 10 slow stirs with the included stir stick so that all the grounds are saturated and the coffee blooms. 
  8. Fill the rest of the vessel, leaving about half an inch of space at the top. You’ll see a bit of coffee dripping through which is fine- that will begin to melt the butter. 
  9. Fit the plunger into the top of the brewing vessel and then edge it back up just a hair in order to create a vacuum,  which will stop the coffee from further dripping. Let it brew for 1 minute. 
  10. Plunge the coffee over the course of 30 seconds. When you hear the air coming out, you're done. Unscrew the filter, pop out the grinds into your compost or garbage and give the whole apparatus a quick rinse. Don't store the plunger inside of the vessel so that everything is given a chance to dry and the plunger seal integrity remains intact. 
  11. Fill the rest of the blender jar with the hot filtered water, leaving about half an inch of room at the top. Secure the bladed lid and blend for about 10 seconds. 
  12. Open up the lid and expect the hiss of hot air and tad of spillage as the butter foams after blending. This amount of coffee in a full blender jar fits perfectly into a 16oz travel thermos

-Elijah Szasz

Elijah Szasz

Elijah was born in San Francisco in 1971. He currently lives in Santa Monica with his wife and two children. With artists for parents, he grew up drawing, painting and sculpting. At the age of five, he came home from seeing Star Wars and drew everything he could remember. Unable to shake the technology bug, he spent ten years in robotics before co-founding an energy-drink-for-geeks company with partner Aaron Rasmussen. After selling the company, he co-founded SPARK6 with partner Chad Alderson. A creative agency where art squarely meets technology-for-good, Elijah runs operations, does interaction design and works with content strategy. He is also currently CEO of LJS Biosciences, an organization committed to addressing the nation's obesity epidemic.