Why Do People Put Butter In Coffee?

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Putting butter in coffee.

Not that it’s any less strange than other things coffee drinkers sometimes do, from insisting on a specific creamer to religiously drinking espresso made by a favorite coffee shop from a particular type of bean.

Coffee with butter has become a trend in the last few years and has led to even stranger ideas, like adding coconut oil in coffee, cacao, or oil-based supplements alongside butter.

However, there are specific reasons behind these additions, and once you understand them, having a butter coffee every morning might not sound so peculiar. 

Read on to find out how these popular coffee drinks are brewed and why they might be just the thing for you!

butter in coffee
A cup of fresh fatty coffee with butter – ketogenic diet concept

What Is Bulletproof Coffee?

The butter coffee trend originally started with a guy named Dave Asprey. He was offered a cup of yak butter tea while hiking in Tibet back in 2009. 

It’s a traditional drink in Tibetan culture, drunk on cold mornings at high elevations, and a potent hospitality symbol.  He was surprised at how much energy, focus, and mental clarity the drink gave him, and he decided to recreate it when he went home to the states. 

After researching what was in the yak butter tea that made it so special, he recreated it using American ingredients.  He called his concoction Bulletproof Coffee, and a 21st-century health trend was born. 

Asprey says bulletproof coffee has several health benefits:

  • It helps you lose weight
  • It gives you more energy
  • It improves your gut health
  • It fills you up and prevents cravings
  • It improves brain function

These claims are based on research into the health benefits of the ingredients used in making bulletproof coffee, though there hasn’t been any research done on Bulletproof coffee itself.

Some health experts caution that the high levels of saturated fat in the drink can raise harmful cholesterol levels or body fat. However, many people who swear by its effects follow paleo or keto diets-high fat, low carbohydrate diets, which the drink fits perfectly.

They may also engage in intermittent fasting and drink it as a replacement for breakfast to boost their body’s consumption of ketones. These practices tend to be done for weight-loss, but bulletproof coffee is also popularly used to increase cognitive function and general health and wellness. 

It’s also trendy in the tech industry, where entrepreneurs work long hours without eating, fueled only by their coffeepot.

The Original Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

coffee with butter
Bulletproof coffee, blended with organic grass-fed butter

Asprey has developed a particular recipe:

  • Brew a cup of coffee using high-quality coffee beans.
  • Pour the coffee into a blender. 
  • Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of MCT oil and an equal amount of unsalted butter or ghee. 
  • Blend for 30 seconds, until it resembles a latte. It should be tan in color, with a thin layer of foam at the top.
  • Pour into a mug and enjoy the nutty flavor.

The sourcing of the ingredients is essential for getting the most benefit out of the drink, so Asprey’s website sells versions that he considers the best he can find. He’s made them available on Amazon in addition to his website.

You can also source them yourself if you prefer. If you choose to go this route, here’s what to look for.

Sourcing Bulletproof Ingredients

1. Coffee Beans

The coffee beans used in Bulletproof coffee should be of high quality. Meaning single-origin, Rainforest Alliance certified and grown at a high elevation.

These practices help minimize the mycotoxins and other contaminants that coffee beans can contain. Brew strong black coffee to use in this drink. The stronger the brew, the more potent your finished product will be.

2. MCT Oil

MCT oil is a supplement made from a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides. It’s commonly found in palm kernel and coconut oil. 

The molecules of this fatty acid are smaller than much of the dietary fat we eat, so they’re digested and absorbed into the bloodstream more easily.  This boosts your energy levels quickly, similar to the way eating a sugary donut does, but without the accompanying drop in blood sugar levels a few hours later. 

You experience all the positive effects without the crash that follows a sugar rush! MCT oil also prevents carb cravings, helps balance out the bacterial flora in your digestive system, and revs up fat burning.

The Bulletproof website sells the best quality MCT oil Asprey can find, called brain octane oil. If you don’t want to go that far, you can substitute a good quality coconut oil instead.

MCT fats are commonly consumed by people following a ketogenic diet, and you can find them in stores that sell nutrition supplements and weight-loss products.

3. Unsalted Butter

The butter used in bulletproof coffee can be used as-is or turned into ghee. The most important thing to know about what butter to use is that it should come from grass-fed cows.  

Grass-fed animals produce butter that contains more micronutrients like vitamin A and vitamin K than butter from grain-fed animals. It also contains more healthy fats, including CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid), an Omega 6 fatty acid that research is showing to have anti-cancer benefits.

The most widely available grass-fed butter in the U.S. is the Kerrygold brand; you should be able to find it at your local grocery store.

The Final Word: Putting Butter In Coffee

Coffee drinkers can be a funny bunch; we’re always looking for the next trendy way to consume our favorite beverage. 

And with Covid keeping us inside and away from our favorite coffee shops, finding ways to make great coffee at home is even more critical.

Want to learn more? Check out our guide to the best liquor for coffee.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.