“Bulletproof” is actually a brand pioneered by silicon valley scion, Dave Asprey. (Source: WECT)
The next trend in getting a morning buzz may be no further than your butter dish.
“Bulletproof Coffee” has a lot of people slurping down hundreds of fatty calories for a high octane rush and has as many supporters as skeptics.
The idea of adding butter to a hot beverage isn't new. Tibetans have been doing this with tea and yak butter for ages in order to survive harsh climates with limited calories.
Most Americans live under no-such conditions, which is why critics say the Bulletproof Coffee craze is just another short-lived buzz.
The heaviest drinkers come from the Crossfit community, many of whom praise the high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet bulletproof coffee comes with.
“It's light, fluffy, it tastes good and makes you feel good,” praised Chrissy Denoyer, an avid Crossfitter and Bulletproof Coffee drinker.
“Bulletproof” is actually a brand pioneered by silicon valley scion, Dave Asprey. Asprey's YouTube videos demonstrate the proper way to use his products and offer two major promises behind your purchase: “It helps you lose weight and helps you stay focused for hours and hours,” Asprey says in his online video.
Curious, WECT handed over about $40 for the “starter” kit which includes a package of Bulletproof “Upgraded” coffee beans and a container of “Brain Octane” oil.
The company says for full effect, not any bean will do.
“Upgraded” beans are allegedly the result of 10 years of searching by Asprey to find a specially-sourced product that does not cause jitters, is grown on a passive organic farm (i.e. no chemicals), and of utmost importance: does not contain myotoxins.
Myotoxins are a type of mold that Bulletproof warns can cause health issues like cardiomyopathy, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease and even brain damage.
Asprey says their presence makes most commercial and “low-quality” coffees toxic, which is why he believes his “ultra clean” bean is the best, if not only option.
These “toxic” claims are nothing more than marketing to Kenneth Hodges, owner of Island Roast Coffee, a specialty gourmet roastery in Carolina Beach.
“I deal quite a bit with the coffee industry, coffee brokers, buyers, graders...and the only place I've really heard about Bulletproof Coffee is here in the US,” Hodges pointed out.
He says myotoxins grown on virtually all grains and coffee and are highly unlikely to survive the scorching heat of any roasting process no matter where your beans come from.
Even if they did, Hodges says you'd have to drink an unimaginable amount of coffee to hit the danger zone.
Myotoxins or not, we pulled up Asprey's recipe.
First, brewing 8 to 12 ounces of Bulletproof coffee either in a percolator, French Press or pour-over. Asprey recommends filtered water but we used tap.
Then, add 1-2 tablespoons of Brain Octane oil and 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee. Finally, pour it all into a blender for 20-30 seconds until it becomes frothy.
Many bulletproof coffee drinkers hack their brew with their own coconut oil and grass-fed butter, while Asprey would shake his finger, users tell us there is no difference.
“Brain Octane” oil is allegedly “18 times more metabolically powerful than coconut oil,” because it converts into energy faster, brings candida into balance in the stomach, does not increase cholesterol and is flavorless.
Without the fancy name, the oil would be called MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs are commonly used in hospitals for patients with major digestive issues.
As for his call for specialty butter, Asprey only recommends grass-fed for it's health benefits and fat profile.
WECT found grass-fed butter at most grocery and speciality stores like Whole Foods. The butter you buy on your own – add $4.
Brad Howard, one of our taste testers hit the gym after his cup of buttery coffee.
“Defiantly got a calorie buzz so that's nice!” he huffed out during his weight lifting.
At about 450 calories of liquid fat per cup, it's intended to replace your breakfast as part of a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. Relying on fat for fuel means a cup of Bulletproof Coffee cannot be chased with a stack of pancakes!
“What are we trading to just be a little bit more alert during the day?” cautioned registered dietitian Sonia Kennedy.
Kennedy, owner of Nutrition In Motion, points out that Bulletproof Coffee lacks most everything a good breakfast should have: protein, vitamins and well, the sheer joy of eating solid food.
Denoyer doesn't exclude real food when she has her morning cup. Typically the coffee fuels her workout while a small breakfast fuels the rest of her morning.
Check some of the forums on Bulletproof's website and you'll see that hunger is a common occurrence. Some suggest blending a raw egg into the slurry to provide satiating protein. We have yet to find someone willing to try it.
“Another fad that's just going to take people money and leave them disappointed in the end,” sighed Kennedy.
She says there's no science supporting the idea that consuming this concoction will turn you into a fat burning furnace with mental super powers. Indeed, much of the research Asprey uses to justify his claims has been challenged in the media as his product has ballooned in popularity.
All of WECT's taste testers unanimously agreed that the coffee was rather enjoyable. With milk fats from the butter, it comes close to a latte.
Most felt a pick-up in energy but nothing, they said, that was beyond a typical caffeine buzz.
Whether Asprey's magic beans and ultra-powered oil hold true to their claims or not, regular drinkers swear by it and insist any critic give it a shot before raising an eyebrow.
Local businesses have also gotten into the bulletproof craze but using their local products instead. Carolina Beach's Veggie Wagon. Whole Foods Wilmington offers a version with Kerrygold butter and their freshly ground coffee.
A special thanks to Cross Fit Wilmington for our video needs and introducing us to the world of buttered coffee drinkers!