What’s the Deal with Butter in Coffee?

published Jun 13, 2013
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(Image credit: Chris Perez)

While foraging for lunch last week, I stumbled into a quaint gluten-free, grain-free, worry-free restaurant, built from a repurposed storage container. Looking over the menu, and debating whether I should order the quinoa or arugula salad, I noticed a peculiar offering simply called ‘butter coffee.’ What is that all about? I just had to know.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The practice of putting a pat of butter in your morning drink isn’t a completely new concept. In Tibet, you may be offered a cup of Tibetan tea in the morning, where the ingredients are butter, tea, and salt or black pepper. You might find it in Singapore, too, where coffee beans (usually of a lower quality) are stir-fried with butter in a wok before being strained through a filter into your cup. These morning drinks are said to provide energy throughout your day, and the same was touted about the butter coffee I was about to order — something that will not only rev up my body and mind, but keep me full all morning. 

The coffee served at this particular establishment was a take on “bulletproof coffee,” a term coined by David Asprey, and a coffee recipe — with butter — that many people have adopted as part of their morning ritual. It’s particularly popular among individuals on a paleo diet. I know a few people who love it, and swear by it.

One peculiar ingredient in ‘bulletproof coffee’ is MCT oil, a common supplement that claims to be all-naturally from compressed oils of palms and coconut. Just like butter, it touts itself as being fuel that helps energize your body and jumpstart your metabolism. 

I’m particularly skeptical to new things, especially those using ingredients that have an acronym for the name, but I gave the butter coffee a shot. I enjoyed it. 

The butter gave an assured creaminess to the drink, the oil added a silky texture. It wasn’t until the end when I got that familiar taste of butter, but it was subdued and more palatable next to something bitter like coffee. The taste lingers on your tongue for a bit, then it makes you come back for another sip.

The drink filled me up, and about halfway through the cup I sensed that warmth from within — that feeling I’m sure most people refer to as “energy.” I don’t think I’ll adopt adding butter to my coffee routine, but I see where the folks who do are coming from. If I try again though, I may go for something a little more natural sounding than MCT oil, and just try to add some coconut milk. 

Have you tried butter in your coffee? Do you drink “Bulletproof Coffee”?

(Images: Chris Perez)