Coffee with butter isn’t a typical morning beverage. But it’s become a craze among biohackers and those looking to add extra energy to their day.
Championed by Dave Asprey, author of “The Bulletproof Diet,” the aptly named “Bulletproof coffee” (BPC) is a mix of specially treated coffee, butter from grass-fed cows, and “brain octane” 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 — and more cafés could be springing up around the country soon.
With the new money, the company said it plans to fuel its retail expansion, including opening up a store in New York City. Last year, I stopped by Bulletproof’s café in Santa Monica to see if a coffee and 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 now taken in over $28 million in venture funding and started opening coffee stores to bring biohacking to the masses. Biohacking is a DIY-movement in which people experiment with various supplements or devices that they believe lead to increased productivity, mental acuity and other benefits. For Bulletproof, this is the first location in downtown Santa Monica.
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.'
Bulletproof's messaging continues before you 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.
The place is packed at 3 p.m. on a Sunday. People are ordering everything from coffee to energy bars. Like at Starbucks, there are also people sitting inside and outside the café. Asprey wants the shop to be a place for the biohacking community to convene, but most people sitting seem to be treating it like a normal coffee shop.
Its menu is anything but normal. There are Stack-Upgrades, which take black coffee and add herbal blends to it to 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. Meanwhile, the 'mould-tested upgraded coffee' includes the original BPC.
Around the store are different nutrition supplements and things meant to 'hack' your body, like a mix of nootropics -- which are supposed to increase mental functions -- called Unfair Advantage.
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 to 'spell broccoli like a boss.' I decide to 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.
Instead of your normal coffee station, Bulletproof has a limited number of add-ons to flavour your drink 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.
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 taste isn't noticeable, but it is creamy. I'm kind of craving the mocha or vanilla versions so it would taste more like a dessert.
But once I got past the initial flavour, it wasn't too bad. I wasn't gagging it down, and I took it with me to go in the car.
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.
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.
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