Butter coffee: the percolating trend

The West Coast has done it again – another food craze has popped up that sounds less than appetizing. This time the tech magnates are adding butter and oil to coffee, churning the stomachs of many online culinary school students. Served up in coffee shops across California and some other locales in the United States, this buttery cup of joe is called bulletproof coffee. The name is not the best way to introduce a frothy, creamy and caffeinated drink, but followers of the trend claim that it offers them super-human improvements.  Unlike some food trends, this drink is steeped in Indian tradition and is only new for the West.

The first shot
Laura Feiselman of Indy Week spoke with the owner of Vimala’s Curryblossom Café​, Vimala Rajendram, to find out the true origin of bulletproof coffee.

“For people in Kerala, it’s a traditional recipe,” Rajendram said. “Of course they have something similar in Nepal and Tibet too.”

She explained that in her youth, the family used fresh milk to cream their coffee. Without refrigeration, it was necessary to have different versions of dairy products available for use. In addition to fresh cream, the family often used ghee. Ghee is a boiled butter that becomes a solid once the residue from cooking is removed. Rajendram also noted that if there was no ghee or milk available, she would substitute coconut oil.

Dave Asprey of Silicon Valley discovered a similar product in his travels to Tibet. It was here that he found the inspiration to start his business, The Bulletproof Executive. For Asprey, the coffee comprises of espresso, ghee, coconut oil and vanilla extract. At times, he makes a mocha version with a bit of cocoa powder.

The varieties seen here in the U.S. tend to be served as drip coffee with unsalted butter and some coconut oil. This is then frothed to give the drink a latte feel. To most seeing the drink for the first time, the thought of drinking oiled coffee makes one think the product may be left overs from a car mechanic’s shop. Carrey Schedler of Chicago Magazine found the coffee to be less than revolting.

Aside from the taste, the craze has a health following. Bulletproof makers and drinkers alike are claiming that they drink the brew for its benefits. Among those listed are weight loss, improved brain function, better athletic performance and longer sustained energy. No consensus has been made as of yet, but Sip Coffee & Beer House’s owner Travis Radevski advises to drink the coffee before a workout, which may be why so many drinkers feel better than average.

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