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Bulletproof Coffee: Worth the Hype?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love coffee. I love the ritual of making it at home and more than that, I love going to a coffee shop for a latte made just for me. Any rainy day, any gloomy mood, any all-nighter on a creative project—they are all made infinitely better by a coffee drink that has been personalized with my name on the to-go cup. And while I only drink one cup of coffee per day, I savor every last drop of it.

So when I started hearing friends (and these were healthy friends, whose taste I respect) rave about Bulletproof coffee, I knew I had to try it. But before I tried it, I needed to Google it to learn what the heck it was.

Buttered coffee or Bulletproof coffee, the brand name by which it’s more commonly known, is basically just hot coffee plus butter plus MCT oil, all put together and mixed in a blender. The MCT in MCT oil stands for medium chain triglycerides, which is a type of fat that has some possible health benefits, although scientists are still learning about it. Regardless, Bulletproof coffee has become a cult in certain circles, largely because of the claims of health benefits that the drink offers over regular coffee.

Bulletproof coffee is supposed to use “better” beans that have fewer toxins and therefore make the coffee less bitter. In addition to tasting better, Bulletproof promises to deliver some pretty amazing health benefits: a long-lasting caffeine boost with no spikes or crashes, increased mental clarity and the promotion of healthy weight loss. There is a whole diet and lifestyle being sold alongside Bulletproof coffee, which basically brags that the coffee as basically the "best meal replacement drink ever."

The man who started the Bulletproof coffee brand, Dave Asprey, is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is opening the brand's first standalone Bulletproof coffee shop in Santa Monica, California, later this month. The Bulletproof coffee shop will be no ordinary coffee shop. In addition to Bulletproof coffee, this shop will also offer lunch items (but no breakfast since your only breakfast is supposed to be their coffee), plus a whole-body vibration platform, circadian rhythm-inspired lighting and a seating area that is physically connected to the earth.

Until that shop opens, there are only a handful of places in Los Angeles where you can order an official Bulletproof coffee. So I drove 45 minutes to Erewhon’s Market in Calabasas to try one. True, you can make it at home with three simple ingredients, but I didn't trust myself to mix those three ingredients correctly. Plus there is such a special, cool, healthy vibe around everything that has to do with Bulletproof coffee. You feel like you are one of an elite group of enlightened people when you order it at the coffee counter. And I really wanted to be a person that liked it.

When I proudly held my very first Bulletproof coffee in my hands, I was ready to savor every drop. It smells amazing, which is not surprising from a drink made from hot coffee beans and melted butter. After my first sip, I felt like I had just put on delicious, coffee-flavored Chapstick. Although it doesn't taste much different than a regular high end coffee with cream, except maybe a bit richer. And then there’s the other thing that hits you—the grease factor.

But by the time I had finished the cup, I felt like I had just eaten that tube of waxy, fatty Chapstick. Ugh. The grease. It was a real issue for me. Look, I unequivocally love butter and olive oil and coconut oil and basically all fats. I’m not one of those people that gets queasy at over-buttered bread or mashed potatoes made into a volcano with a little pool of butter inside or pat my pizza removing that lovely cheesy grease. Bring it on, I say! I will happily eat large amounts of buttery goodies with no ill effects except maybe my guilt over breaking a New Year's Resolution.

But this buttered, oily coffee, I did not love. I liked everything about it except for the greasiness, which is the part that makes it a Bulletproof coffee and not just a regular coffee. Truth be told, I did drink the whole thing for the sake of science. And then I waited for increased mental clarity, and while I admit that I did feel perkier and a bit more focused after drinking it, it felt like I had just drank a cup of coffee—which I had.

For me, the most special thing about Bulletproof coffee seemed to be simply the experience of buying it.

Images via Brigitte Dale

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