Monday, February 9, 2015

My Experience With Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof Coffee (BPC) has been getting a lot of attention recently, so I decided to give it a shot. I've been drinking it consistently for the past few weeks, and have been enjoying it so far.

The tl;dr on how to make it is:
Why would you do this? Well, the claim is that bulletproof coffee gives you long term energy, high quality calories, and mental superpowers, all while making you a fat burning machine and tasting amazing. It's also supposed to cut down on the jittery feeling that many people get after drinking a strong cup of coffee. Some people even recommend skipping breakfast and only drinking BPC. Sounds magical, right?

My experience with bulletproof coffee has been positive overall, with some caveats. As you might expect, much of the hype is unrealistic, and BPC is not going to change your life overnight. I think it tastes great (like a buttery cappuccino), and I do find that when I drink it I get lasting energy without feeling jittery or over-caffeinated. I think the easiest way to talk about its effects in depth is actually to address the criticisms of BPC.


Like anything popular, BPC has its share of haters, so here's a breakdown of the common criticisms and my response.

It Tastes Bad

Taste is really personal preference, and I find BPC to be delicious. Many of the people who think it is disgusting are simply making it incorrectly. Some common mistakes are:
  1. Using coconut oil instead of MCT oil. The latter is liquid at room temperature, while the former is a solid. Coconut oil can make your coffee too oily.
  2. Not blending it. You MUST blend BPC for 30-45 seconds, or you are just drinking coffee with butter floating in it, which is revolting. Once blended it becomes foamy and resembles a cappuccino.
  3. Using too much MCT oil or butter. I recommend starting with 1-2 teaspoons of MCT oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. You can go up from there if you want. 
  4. Using salted butter. Salty coffee is gross. Don't do this.
Replacing Breakfast With BPC is Stupid and Doesn't Work

This is probably true. I eat a big breakfast with my coffee, typically 3 eggs, half an avocado, and two pieces of buttered toast. I am highly skeptical that drinking only BPC will hold you over until lunch, and it strikes me as potentially an unhealthy idea. Continue to eat breakfast and you will be fine here. 

There's Too Much Saturated Fat

Nutrition science is the biggest failure of the scientific community in the history of the human race. We still know very little about how macronutrients really affect people, and the "common wisdom" changes on an annual basis. Does BPC have too much saturated fat? Maybe, but if you use a modest amount of MCT oil and butter (<= 1 tablespoon of each) you are only consuming 200 calories and ~22 grams of saturated fat, which is right around your daily value. This isn't the outlandish excess that some people make it out to be.

BPC Doesn't Make You Lose Weight

I'm not trying to lose weight, I'm trying to gain weight. So personally I see BPC as a delicious calorie delivery mechanism. If you stop eating breakfast and drink BPC instead while changing literally nothing else you might lose a little weight, since your caloric intake is probably going down and you are consuming higher quality calories. That said, most people are not going to see a dramatic change just from changing how they take their coffee.

The Branded Bulletproof "Upgraded Coffee" Is Way Overpriced

I address this in the cost section below, but this is true. You don't need to buy this, you can use any coffee beans you want.


Coffee: I typically buy coffee from Whole Foods, and it runs around $12 for a 12oz bag (340 grams). The Aeropress recommends using 12 grams of coffee per cup, so you get around 28 servings per bag. This works out to a cost of $0.42 per cup.

MCT Oil: I buy Now Foods MCT Oil from Amazon via subscribe and save, which is $18.67 for a 32oz bottle. This has 64 servings, so it is $0.29 per cup.

Butter: Kerrygold grass fed unsalted butter is around $3.69 for 16 tablespoons at most grocery stores. This works out to $0.23 per cup if you are using 1 tablespoon of butter.

With all of that together, your cup of BCP costs about $0.94, which is much less than anything you are going to get from a local coffee shop.

Bulletproof Upgraded Coffee is $18.95/12oz + $6.95 shipping = $25.90, or $0.91 per cup. This is pretty excessive, and twice the price of buying great coffee from Whole Foods. Still, it doesn't really move the needle that much on the overall price, so if you decide to try it you won't break the bank. It's also dramatically cheaper than your typical "venti vanilla soy double shot peppermint white chocolate mocha" at Starbucks. I've never had the bulletproof branded coffee, but it is supposed to be very good. Luckily, there's a way to get it for roughly half that cost:

If you buy Upgraded Coffee in the bulk 5lb bags you pay $80 for 189 servings, or $0.42 per cup. You still pay for shipping in this case, but if you spend a little more on other things (or buy two 5lb bags) you can get free shipping and keep the cost quite low. Even if you end up paying the $6.95 for shipping, your per cup cost only goes up to $0.46. I'm going to try to wrangle some friends to share the larger bag with so I can at least try Upgraded Coffee.

Wrap Up

Bulletproof coffee can be a delicious way to improve your daily cup of coffee, and I do think that it gives you added energy without the afternoon crash. Just do it responsibly - eat a solid breakfast and don't go too crazy with the amount of butter and MCT oil that you are putting in your coffee.