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I tried the high-tech cafe that wants to hack your body by adding butter to your coffee

Bulletproof sipBiz Carson/Business Insider

Coffee with butter isn’t a typical morning beverage.

But it’s become a craze among bio-hackers and those looking to add extra energy to their day.

Championed by Dave Asprey, author of “The Bulletproof Diet,” the aptly-named “Bulletproof coffee” is a mix of specially treated coffee, butter from grass-fed cows, and “brain octane” oil, a proprietary version of MCT (medium-chain triglyceride oil), which is similar to coconut oil. 

You’ve never seen these ingredients on a Starbucks menu. But they’re staples at the Bulletproof Café in Santa Monica, California.

 

During a recent trip to Santa Monica, I stopped by to see if a coffee with butter concoction could keep me fuelled for my drive back to San Francisco. Here’s what it was like: 

'The goal is not to be the next Starbucks,' says founder Dave Asprey. Yet, the company has taken $9 million in venture funding, and started by opening physical coffee stores to bring biohacking to the masses. This is the first location in downtown Santa Monica.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

The sign outside is just one indicator of the differences between your typical coffee shop and Bulletproof. Here I'm told to 'Hack every meal.'

Biz Carson/Business Insider

Bulletproof's messaging continues before you even set foot in the store. From the door decals you can see that this café is gluten-free, doesn't use GMOs, and won't add sugar.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

What it does like is grass-fed and local foods. Plus a-- kicking.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

The place is packed at 3 p.m. on a Sunday. People are ordering everything from coffee to energy bars. Like a typical Starbucks, there are also people sitting around inside and outside the café. Asprey wants the coffee shop to be a place for the biohacking community to convene, but most people sitting around seem to be treating it like a normal coffee shop.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

But its menu is anything but normal. There are Stack-Upgrades, which take the baseline black coffee and add herbal blends to it do either burn fat, reduce stress, or boost antioxidants. There's a huge selection of teas. Its Brewcode Coffee is 'digitally handcrafted' and can have butter and other things added to it. Meanwhile, the 'mould-tested upgraded coffee' includes the original BPC.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

There's even collagen on the menu. And the option to add more butter.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

Around the store are different nutrition supplements and thinks meant to 'hack' your body, like a mix of nootropics called Unfair Advantage.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

Bulletproof doesn't just sell coffee. Here, a buttery broccoli Bulletproof soup tells me to 'eat some leeks like a boss' and 'have your butter like a boss'...not to mention, 'spell broccoli like a boss.' I decide to just stick with the original Bulletproof coffee. I'm hoping the coffee and butter combo will keep me alert on my six-hour drive to San Francisco.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

A few minutes later, my coffee appears.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

Instead of your normal coffee station, Bulletproof only has a limited number of add-ons to flavour your coffee when you get it. The only sweeteners are liquid stevia and stevita packets. The only milk is coconut milk. There are also two shakers of sea salt and cinnamon nearby.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

I decide to skip out on adding anything to my coffee. Underneath, my cup is foamy, but seems normal otherwise.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

So let's try it out...

Biz Carson/Business Insider

Well, the first sip wasn't the tastiest.

It's a little thin, more like coffee that has been watered down with too much milk. I'm missing that strong flavour I was expecting. The butter isn't a noticeable taste, but it sure is creamy. I'm kind of craving the mocha or vanilla versions so it would taste more like a dessert.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

But, once I got past the initial flavour, it wasn't too bad. I wasn't gagging it down by any means, and took it with me to go in the car.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

Once I got through the foam layer, it looked like a normal cup of coffee. I was worried that the butter might make me sleepy, but I feel energised at the wheel as I drive. The consistency was like normal coffee, and it didn't taste too oily.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

I wouldn't choose this over my Starbucks or Philz run, but that's the point. Asprey wants people to take control of their bodies, and his coffee shop is meant to be the first gateway into biohacking. I may not become a Bulletproof devotee, but my curiosity is piqued enough to maybe go back and try the mocha version.

Biz Carson/Business Insider

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