Better Than Bulletproof Coffee

I’ve received several requests to comment on Bulletproof Coffee. The reason I am being asked is not only have I been an active blogger on nutrition for a few years, but I’m also a coffee enthusiast. I run the site INeedCoffee.com and have been home roasting coffee since 1998. I live in Seattle and have taken espresso vacations to Portland and Vancouver. I’ve been invited to judge at barista competitions and I am the organizer for The Coffee Club of Seattle, which has over 500 members. In 2011 we visited 114 different coffee places. In other words, I like coffee.

Defining Bulletproof Coffee

Upgraded Coffee is the name of the coffee sold at the Bulletproof Exec, which invented the Bulletproof Coffee brewing method. I have not tried the branded Upgraded Coffee, but I have no doubt that it is excellent. I listen to the Upgraded Self podcast and I can tell Dave Asprey sourced a good roaster and importer. This post will not be about the branded Upgraded Coffee. It will be about the Bulletproof Coffee recipe.

To make Bulletproof Coffee you will add MCT oil and unsalted Kerry Gold butter to your brewed “mold free” coffee. This is supposed to taste wonderful and provide all sorts of health benefits. I am aware of the health benefits of doing a fat based Intermittent Fast. In the post Intermittent Fasting – The No Hunger Method, I posted on how I used a strategy outlined in the The Perfect Heath Diet to accomplish the same thing. Instead of butter and MCT oil, I used coconut oil and fermented vegetables. Both his method and my method are feeding the body short chain fats while depriving the body of glucose.

Cognitive Benefit and Taste

I have made Bulletproof style coffee using my home roast a few times now. Did I experience a cognitive boost? Nope. Maybe my body already has enough short chain fats and this style of coffee would be more beneficial to someone deficient. I didn’t notice any increased alertness, like I did with L-Tyrosine. The coffee beans I used were, as Dave suggested, wet processed coffees from Central America, as they are the least likely to get mold. I bought them from Sweet Maria’s Coffee in Oakland, who uses the importer Royal Coffee, which is used by several of the top roasters in the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco. So I will say that the quality of my beans is equal to the best roasters on the West Coast.

As for the taste, I found it to be disappointing, bland and borderline gross. I love the taste of coffee and I love the taste of butter. Mixing the two does not enhance the flavor, it negates it. If you like cream in your coffee then switching to butter might make perfect sense and be a wonderful pleasant tasting experience for you. I personally think it is criminal to acquire the best coffees in the world and then cover up their taste with anything, be that butter, cream, sugar or MCT oil. A better option for me would be to enjoy coffee in all its perfection and then go about consuming short chain fats.

Which source of short chain fats is superior is a topic I’m not interested in investigating. My guess is Kerrygold Butter, MCT Oil and coconut oil are all excellent choices. Just as long as they stay the hell out of my coffee.

Roast Your Own Coffee

Dave has a post on finding the best roasters in your city. It involves looking at Yelp, which in my opinion provides the worthless reviews of 20 year olds with little life experience that bitch about not getting a strong WIFI signal. There is one Seattle roaster that buys lower grade coffee that has a baggy taste with over 100 glowing reviews on Yelp. With enough milk and chocolate any drink can taste good, but that doesn’t speak to quality of the coffee itself.

A better method for locating the highest quality coffee would be to discover who is the most respected in the industry. Visit Coffee Review to find the best coffee roasters in the country. One might be in your town. Another strategy is to find out if there are any regional barista competitions and which cafes and roasters are being represented. Quality talent tends to work for quality coffee businesses. But sadly, most of the country has woefully bad coffee. The only way to guarantee you are getting the highest quality coffee outside of expensive mail order is to roast your own coffee.

There are many ways to roast coffee at home. INeedCoffee has entire section of home roasting coffee tutorials. It is a super easy and very rewarding hobby. And because your buying green coffee, you’ll save a lot of money. Like I said earlier, the beans I buy from Sweet Maria’s are some of the same crops the best roasters on West Coast are bidding for. On the Sweet Maria’s website, you can see the processing method used for each offering. To be Bulletproof compliant source the Wet Processed coffee. Each coffee is cupped by professionals before it is offered for sale. They taste for defects and only buy the best.

Screenshot from Sweet Maria’s website showing you how a coffee was processed.

Better Than Bulletproof Coffee

My coffee journey has turned me into a snob. I make no apologies for that. If I can’t have outstanding coffee, I will drink tea. Putting butter inside my wonderful coffee was a vile experiment that I do not ever wish to repeat. A better strategy is to source the best coffee green, home roast the beans and then consume the coffee black to appreciate the true flavor profile. Once you’ve finished your delicious cup of coffee, consume your short chain fats.

Comments

  1. chuck says

    i too experimented with bulletproof coffee and didn’t like it with butter. i do enjoy it with coconut oil. otherwise i drink my coffee black.

    i do have one word for all of us to remember though…..mycotoxins.

  2. says

    @Chuck – I have not tried coconut oil in my coffee. “Escape the Herd Coffee”. I’m afraid. :)

  3. chuck says

    @mas
    i can appreciate and actually respect people who prefer black coffee. most people like cream and sugar but find it more acceptable when mixed with this bitter black liquid called coffee.

    i actually prefer black myself. i don’t add coconut oil for flavor but for the short chain fats you mention. if it ruined my coffee, i wouldn’t add it. it is something i do for about 1/4 of the coffee i drink. coconut oil is also good slathered on dark chocolate.

  4. says

    @Chuck – Yeah, I understand your point. When I was in Brazil the coffee was awful. So I added cream, which is something I would never do at home. Fortunately, the milk there was excellent so it all worked out.

    Use a Bulletproof recipe on a mediocre coffee might have merit.

    But for excellent coffee, it is like pouring cola over a 18 year old single malt.

  5. chuck says

    i may just have to do that with the single malt…..i hate scotch. i like bourbon and canadian whiskey, i will drink those on the rocks.

    i love a good cup of coffee, especially espresso. i am sure your home brew would be incredible.

  6. says

    Much like with red wine I’m not anywhere near enough of a connoisseur to appreciate coffee the way you do MAS. Meat yes, Coffee no. I’ve enjoyed using butter, coconut oil, a dash of cinnamon, a dash of raw cocoa, and quarter a teaspoon of raw local honey in my morning coffee. I enjoy the creamy, buttery flavour. At first I did notice some cognitive and physical effects. I had fasted most morning until lunch, leangains style, except for black coffee or green tea for the past year or so and operated perfectly great. First few weeks of having a bulletproof coffee first thing in the morning however and it felt like rocket fuel. Now it is far less noticable, though thats potentially due to the feeling becoming the ‘norm.’ I just skip it on training days now and mornings where I don’t feel any smidgen of hunger before I leave home.

  7. says

    @James – Thanks for sharing your experiences. Maybe that is what I am experiencing. Morning fasting gave me one level of cognitive benefit. Maybe adding kimchi and coconut oil brought me more, but I don’t recall noticing at the time. Back then I was more concerned with checking my keto-stix score than determining how sharp my thinking was.

  8. says

    I’m sort of a coffee snob. Always liked it black and bold tasting. Only did I resort to more cream and sugar when I did lots of corporate travelling in the 90s and drank bad hotel coffee.

    Nowadays I drink Americanos (espresso shots in hot water) for the really bold taste and love it.

    I don’t do butter or cream, tried it…did nothing for me (and diluted the taste).

    I do however swear by coconut oil. I found the taste of the espresso was not diminished and it certainly gives a boost in “stable” energy and mental focus.

    I find that I am able to easily go longer (2-3pm instead of Noon) till my first meal daily and don’t suffer any signs of excess adrenal stress (anxiety/nervousness/muscle twitching/fatigue) that I had with just coffee/americano.

    The potential benefits of MCT based fats is interesting to me for a sustainable low meal frequency lifestyle, while also being active (especially how MCT high diets seem to increase EE vs LCTs).

    May also work to help people curb hunger and control eating while eating less often too (which is a realistic factor in maintaining long term weight loss).

    Funny part is…I don’t even like the taste of coconut, but hiding in the espresso works for me.

    PS. I’m going to trademark it and call it “2 Meal Coffee” because everyone needs a brand to put on t-shirts and hats right? :) http://www.theiflife.com/2-meal-coffee/

  9. says

    Oh…the coconut oil (or any fats) with coffee may be a good way for people who are dealing with already stress overload to use an IF based approach. More of a healing approach to IF for a sustainable lifestyle.

  10. says

    @mas – thanks for taking the time to write this!

    I’m with you when you say that awesome coffee is best black. I often drink my morning coffee half Bulletproof style and half black for the reason you outline – black coffee (good stuff) is awesome all by itself. Many coffee-haters (the “it’s too bitter without sugar” types) will try Upgraded Coffee (or high quality coffee in general) and be amazed that it tastes good without the sugar.

    We know bad (moldy, damaged, or poorly processed) beans contribute to acid and bitter tastes.

    The problem is that most people have learned to drink bad coffee so they expect it creamy. Butter and MCT give people something to replace a latte or frappuccino, and it is a convenient breakfast replacement.

    Regarding using kimchee in your coffee, that’s downright gross. (ok, kidding, I get it that you must be eating it separately!) :)

    The big question to ask yourself with your kimchee is what species of microbes are present in your ferment. Many fermented veggies are very high in histamine and other biogenic amines, and some species of lacto bacteria actually cause peroxynitrite formation in the gut. We’ve changed the earth’s biome with excessive spraying of several mutagenic fungicides and the microbes have responded by increasing the number of types of toxins they generate, as all microbes do when stressed.

    I’m curious if you ever feel a difference when you switch to a new batch of kimchee, or whether you’re controlling the species of ferment you use.

  11. says

    @Mike – I promise to try your coffee method (and Chuck’s) once.

    @Dave – I’ve listened to all your shows and was motivated to test my response to removing all fermented foods from my diet and then reintroducing them. I’ve done this test twice now. The results are I feel exactly the same. I also feel fine on restaurant and store bought ferments.

    Of course I have no way to know what species is in my kimchi. Oh well. To me it is a very enjoyable hobby that gives me tasty food with no noticeable effects. The only foods that I have a noticeable negative response to are gluten and alcohol, with gluten being the worse. If fermented veggie are negatively impacting my health outcome, that effect is minor and not worth stressing about.

    I do give you props for getting the coffee masses off the sugar based coffee drinks. Cheers.

  12. says

    I am so glad you love coffee!! I think it is one of the best foods you can eat and has really gotten a bad name for itself.

  13. Bill says

    I don’t do “plain” coffee. Grew up with a single mom who waitressed at a lot of truck stops in the south (texas, oklahoma). When I was old enough to drink coffee it was truck stop coffee (circa 1960′s). My mother drank it black. Me, I had to add sugar and cream (eventually about 8 packets of sugar) in order to cover the bitter taste.

    So, I’m a non-connoisseur coffee drinker which means that I’m not seriously into taste testing plain coffee for its flavor. With my morning sluggishness and dazed condition that refuses to go away I’m more about ingesting every single molecule of caffeine I can absorb in order to get moving.

    The coffee mold issue was a bit disconcerting so I just ordered a small bag of coffee from BulletProof and will see what it’s like. Given the many years of caffeine use I’m not imagining any major difference in how I feel in the mornings but I’m curious to see if there’s any difference in taste. I seriously need to lose weight but I don’t think there’s any way I’m going to be adding butter to my coffee anytime soon. The MCT maybe. The problem isn’t my appetite in the morning because I don’t really have one. It’s in the evening starting at about 7p.m. and lasting until all hours of the morning. However, if the MCT will still provide an energy boost in the morning I can look for another solution for trying to kill my appetite in the evening.

    Good post by the way. After reading all of the endorsements of the bulletproof coffee I’m glad it works for some people. I just don’t think my tastebuds could handle it.

    Bill

  14. says

    @Bill – Thanks for the comment. Good luck on your fat loss goals. My weakest times when it comes to excess calories is also the evening. I’l be posting soon on the foods I have found that provide the most satiety.

  15. Branden says

    Just found your Blog and have spent the last hour reading all sorts of stuff I am interested in. I really like your posts on Intermittent Fasting and this post on Bulletproof Coffee. I have been drinking it for a few months now and really like it. I am also from the Seattle area (Des Moines). Can you recommend any roasters in our area for the “mold free” beans? Preferably anyone near the south end where I am located. Thanks for any help!

  16. says

    @Branden – The Burien Press sells Caffe Vita. Caffe Delia in White Center has Velton (morning hours only) and Dubsea Coffee sells Stumptown. All those should be fine.

    Glad you like the site.

  17. Alex says

    I agree with this post , I’ll have coconut oil and grass butter on my eggs or meat with a nice cup of coffee flavoured coffee.

  18. Roland says

    IIRC, Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Recipe recommends starting slowly with 1 tbsp KerryGold butter and 1 tbsp Coconut Oil, and gradually building up from there to four. I did that, and the ‘oily texture’ that seems to put off some folk did not bother me, as it came on gradually. Started this late July, and have been drinking since. Use stevia to sweeten, and a big scoop of chocolate protein powder adds to the great taste. I’m often doing just 4 tbsp of coconut oil, as the costco is LOT closer to me than the places that carry the KerryGold. I think the oil is increasing morning alertness somewhat. Happier to have dropped 11 pounds since then.

    Have also done bulletproof tea with pu-erh. Dave, has anyone found mycotoxins in tea? I particularly wonder about pu-erh, due to the fact that it is fermented. I have usually been using the Numi pu-erh.

    Props to Dave A. for introducing me to the recipe–and to coffee, as the effects from the mycotoxins made me hate coffee for years–not anymore! and for turning me on to KerryGold. Have recently had their Aged Cheddar cheese that comes with Jameson’s Irish Whisky blended in and also their Cheddar with Guiness added; *very good stuff*.

    Props to Michael for suggesting Sweet Maria’s and green roasting– I soon will be working in Tacoma for the next 6-12 months. I will follow the link re roasting that you posted here, and if it’s not too cumbersome, will try that along with the beans from Sweet Maria’s.

  19. says

    @Roland Aged tea can have mcyotoxins, yes. Steer clear of aged teas or fermented teas to avoid them, unless you are certain which species fermented it (I’ve never seen that level of control in tea production). A bigger issue with tea is that, while it has amazing antioxidants, it also contains high levels of fluoride. Green and white tea are known to deplete folate levels. I wrote about this in my recent book on nutrition for pregnancy, more at http://www.betterbabybook.com.

    I take a green tea extract, and enjoy white tea that is not aged. Surprisingly, you’re by mate and Roy Vos and chamomile go well with butter and MCT. I would encourage you to try MCT instead of coconut oil, because MCT has six times more MCT than coconut oil. The cognitive difference is noticeable for many people.

    It is a good idea to steer clear of the cheese with Guiness it it. You will be getting unfiltered fungal toxins from the grain in the beer, as well as traces of gluten and other anti-nutrients.

    So glad you like the Bulletproof Coffee recipe – it’s doing some amazing things.

    I still can’t get into Michael’s recipe of fermented vegetables blended with coffee. That’s just gross! (kidding Michael – I know you don’t blend them!) :)

    Michael you inspired me to test another batch of homemade sauerkraut. I chose fresh, locally grown, biodynamic green cabbage. For the ferments, I added a human bacterial probiotic source in 1970 from a woman who had never had antibiotics in her life, and kept genetically pure ever since, and the right amount of salt. When the ferment was complete, I tried it. Predictably, the histamine levels that come from fermenting vegetables, even low-protein ones like cabbage, caused the problems they usually do, namely a histamine response (allergies) like swelling, etc. This is a major issue for a significant number of people. They never know when they are consuming histamine, but they know that they are not as well as they would like to be.

    Biogenic amines in fermented foods deserves recognition as a significant hazard for people who already have allergies, which sadly is most of us. Most coffee, even washed coffee, forms histamine during fermentation too. I have lab tested my upgraded coffee beans, and they is also a histamine free, by design.

  20. Roland says

    @Dave, thanks for the response. You stated that straight MCT oil would have the highest effect on cognition. Out of these 3: the Kerrygold butter, coconut oil or MCT oil–which one alone might help the most with fat loss? I’m about to go after those ‘last 15 pounds’ that are supposed to be so much fun to tackle. Not sure I’m going to get into the whole IF thing. Have been pretty much eating paleo, dropping most grains and sugar since August.

    Due to your response, have just started looking into the floride in tea thing. At least some folk claim that the floride in tea is calcium floride (allegedly harmless), whereas what’s in drinking water is sodium floride (harmful). Thoughs, data on this? I like matcha also, found a Taiwanese food grade at local Asian grocery store. Have some yerba mate sitting around that I haven’t had for quite a while; think I’ll try Bulletproofing that. As for the Kerrygold cheese, I meant that it tasted fantastic, not that it was neccessarily good *for* you; should have been more clear. Have disciplined myself to just a 1 inch cube at a time. Finally, I think it’s fascinating that you and Tim Ferriss have approached some of the same problems, spending similar amounts of money on self-research, at nearly the same time. When I tell people about BC, I liken this to how Leibnitz and Newton invented calculus at the same time.

    @Michael: Appreciate your recommendation of Bluebeard and Metronome in Tacoma. I’m coming in ‘cold’ from way out of state, don’t know a thing about the SeaTac area, other than that Frasier was the most brilliant television comedy ever written.

  21. says

    @Roland, The answer on fat loss is very clear. MCT oil is going to completely win from a fat loss perspective. (that’s why I make Upgraded MCT Oil that is 100% MCT with no additives/flavors/colors etc)

    I haven’t done enough research on the fluoride tea issue to offer a qualified opinion on calcium vs sodium.

    Yeah, I like how Tim approaches biohacking too. I’m curious how it will impact his opinions if he decides to have children. I learned a lot about bio hacking from that process. No doubt both Tim and I would be amused to be compared with trailblazers like Leibnitz and Newton! Thank you.

  22. Bob says

    If I put fermented vegetables in my coffee I would find it pretty disgusting as well. Maybe you should’ve stuck to the original recipe instead?

    The MCT’s/coconut oil was still a good choice, though.
    I think plenty of people might actually see if a difference by drinking a coffee with MCT/coconut oil and grass-fed butter in there and not using any kind of sugar or dairy. I think we’re talking about the Average American who doesn’t diet at all and is far deficient in n-3 fatty acids and eats far too many carbohydrates, never mind grains/gluten and refined foods.

  23. genia says

    Very interesting to read your views on the ‘bulletproof coffee’ recipe. in all my years I stayed away from what I thought coffee to be not consumed but only beneficial for enemas. I am now convinced and a walking testimonial that drinking the highest quality coffee WITH butter and MCT oil to start my day is a gift I look forward to every morning. The clarity, energy and feeling I receive from my new concoction is special. Have a great day!

  24. Embe says

    I sometimes get headaches from coffee immediately when I drink it. However, when in Europe, this rarely happens when I get coffee, as an espresso or just a cup, in Italy or Spain. Also, Starbucks latte’s do not give me a headache, but their regular coffee does. Any ideas? Thanks.

  25. says

    @Embe – I’ve been reading how drinking coffee with milk or sugar might be better hormonally. I’ve noticed that I feel better when I drink coffee after a meal rather than before a meal. My stomach is fine, but I am more likely to get a headache later.

    As for Europe, it may be the change of location.

  26. Mary says

    Similar to Branden’s question, can you recommend a coffee roaster north of Seattle who roasts coffee that works for Bulletproof? I live in Snohomish and work in Everett. Thanks.
    I will drink at least half of it black, but I like Bulletproof too.

  27. says

    I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this idea of butter in your coffee as I appreciate a really good cup of coffee. Know any places here in Vancouver that may serve it?

    Thanks!

  28. says

    @Mary – I just learned that you can purchase Velton’s Coffee whole bean from Bookend Coffee Co., which is located at 2702 Hoyt Ave (inside the Everett Public Library).

  29. PJ says

    Hello Mas,

    I am trying to get a definitive answer regarding the type of espresso coffee that I use to make my version of Bulletproof coffee in the morning.

    Being in Europe I use the commercial well know Italian brands such as Lavazza and Illy to make my coffee using a traditional Gaggia espresso machine. I only use the 100% Arabica coffee (no Robusta). I wanted to know if these brands (vacuum packed coffee) would be considered ‘mold free’ and low in mycotoxins?

    I may be defeating the object of Bulletproof style coffee, if I am using the wrong stuff.

    Thanks, PJ

  30. says

    @PJ – Let me start by saying that I am highly skeptical about the health risk of mycotoxins for the majority. Dave is clearly hypersensitive when it comes to mold. I highly doubt most people are affected. I haven’t been.

    Personally, I don’t think Lavazza and Illy are high quality coffees, but I also reject the evil mycotoxin argument. So if you like those coffees, use them. A lot of the claimed benefits of BP Coffee have to do with the short chain fats and beverage timing and are unrelated to mycotoxins.

    Also, Dave advises using filtered coffee, not espresso.

  31. says

    MAS, I advise using only coffee that is filtered WITHOUT paper as you want the coffee oils. Espresso meets that bill nicely, although most espresso beans are roasted so darkly they have excess acrylamide.

    You are mistaken about the MCT and short chain fats and timing being impactful. I did an IRB approved study, with 54 participants, of Upgraded Coffee vs. similar priced beans, with twice daily batteries of cognitive function psychology tests. The result? On 7 of 9 measures of executive function, Upgraded Coffee showed very substantial positive differences. In the same study, butter did not have an impact. (it does on satiety and in some people on brain inflammation via scf)

    Additionally, much of the world has much tighter standards on mycotoxins in coffee than the US, so we get moldier coffee. My testing standards exceed the international standards.

    I’ve personally cupped Cup of Excellence winners that were full of mycotoxins. Right now, you don’t know how they impact you (you haven’t learned to feel them) but there is a clear enough danger from mycotoxins in coffee that regulatory agencies throughout the world, but not in the US, thought it worth their time to set limits. It is irresponsible to tell people that mycotoxins are not an issue in the coffees above when you have no evidence, no data, and no ability to feel whether coffee is clean or not. Toxins in coffee are hit and miss, even with good 3rd wave coffee companies, and the coffee industry knows this, but doesn’t like it.

    Love your blog…but were mycotoxins even on your radar before I started talking about them?

  32. Mary says

    Update on Velton’s coffee:
    I did buy some from Bookend Coffee in Everett — de-lish, by the way. What I got there (Twilight blend, I think) was not wet processed, single origin coffee, so I ordered some from Velton’s website. I purchased the Santa Teresa from Mexico and the Ethiopian Konga, both wet-processed/single origin. My hands-down favorite was the Santa Teresa, though I don’t see it now on his website :(
    On my next purchase, I may try the Nicaragua Los Congos Estate Pacamara, assuming it is wet processed.
    Thanks.

  33. Mary says

    The Kenya AA Rumikia Blackberry looks like it’s wet processed. Maybe I’ll purchase that.

  34. says

    @Dave – In an early podcast, I recall you saying not to use espresso. I agree with you that dark roasted coffee is to be avoided. I do it for taste. My roasts and the best roasters in the PNW have moved lighter in the past decade, especially in the last 3 years.

    I still reject your premise that mycotoxins are a problem in speciality coffee. I’ve sat at cupping tables with the best in the industry. They are trained to taste for any defects. The roasters I use do not purchase coffee with mold.

    But let us say that I’m wrong and you are correct. If you can taste and respond negatively to mycotoxins and I can’t, why would I want to train myself to taste them? My goal isn’t to wrap myself in a bubble seeking optimal health, but to be resilient in a non-perfect world that might have some toxins.

    I’ve done numerous tests, removed foods, changed up my coffee and couldn’t tell a difference on anything. These days I consume coffee that is washed, natural and pulp natural process and I feel great.

    @Mary – Glad you like Velton’s Coffee. He is one of the best.

  35. says

    @Dave – What I meant about the timing of MCT Oil and short chain fats being important was that there is a reason for having it upon waking in a fasted state as opposed to any time of the day. You would agree with that, right?

  36. Jamie_z says

    not a bad article but with all due respect, though you touch on it, Bulletproof coffee is first and foremost about health, and keeping out mycotoxins so it’s really REALLY annoying to hear people “review” it or have an article called “Better than Bulletproof” and then just talk about taste and unverifiable sources for coffee with absurdity like, “A better method for locating the highest quality coffee would be to discover who is the most respected in the industry”
    uhhh…. ??

  37. says

    @Jamie_z – My point about finding the best in the industry was a counter argument to using YELP.

    And this post wasn’t a review, which I clearly stated in the post. It was me trying to bridge the gap between what Dave is offering and my 15 years of home roasting knowledge.

  38. Nathan Wyss says

    Fun post and an even more fun chain of comments guys. I just wanted to point out a few things:

    Royal will import both good and bad coffee. Sweet Maria’s is a great source for home roasting with out a doubt. If you really want to get fancy, check out Cafe Imports and 90 Plus.

    You will not taste low levels of mycotoxins in a coffee, no matter how you roast or prepare it.

    Government standards for quality are not always appropriate. I’d even say seldom appropriate. Look at all the crap they claim is safe to eat at your grocery store. All that food, and/or the manufacturing facilities passed inspections. Do you believe the US gov’s “food pyramid” is actually how you should eat? I believe zero mycotoxins is always better than any amount of mycotoxins. If only I could do my own lab tests……

    You probably should not recommend roasters or shops for avoiding mycotoxins in beans, rather specific coffee origins and processing techniques. I rarely see natural processed Guatemalan beans. They are usually washed and there is a high bar for quality there. However, crops in Central America are having a disease issue this year. I don’t know if that will effect the mycotoxin levels or not, but probably will. Certainly will effect flavor. I’ve run into some extremely clean Mexican beans lately. Also usually washed, rarely natural. Honey Processed usually means some fermentation has happened to effect the flavor. You will see that most with Costa Ricans, but the CR’s are usually washed as well. Kenya has very high standards for African origins and the beans are almost always washed. Coffee from Yemen is almost always natural processed and fermented.

    I do coffee tastings with my customers regularly. They’re always surprised and delighted in the differences between origins. Then they buy a cup of my premium, carefully selected, artfully roasted, and individually prepared coffee and douse it with cream and sugar, very happy with their experience and what they just did to their beverage. Who am I to say that a black coffee is better than a creamed coffee? Or a butter coffee?

    I can say without doubt that I notice a cognitive and physical energy difference when drinking a grass fed ghee & upgraded MCT Oil coffee over a regular black coffee. I use a little cinnamon with it and have actually grown to like the taste and mouth feel. I’m currently experimenting to find out if I notice a difference in how I feel if I use Dave’s Upgraded beans over my washed Guatemala beans.

    Regardless of taste preference, I like the concept of drinking a clean, performance enhancing coffee. I agree that it would be silly to use an expensive COE lot for mixing with butter, but you’re going to be paying $16+ per pound minimum for any decent clean coffee from an independent roaster. And the price will only go up in the future. Right now I’m drinking one cup of coffee per day, Bulletproof style, so I can isolate the physical effects it has on me. This is difficult when my life revolves around roasting and selling coffee.

    All the best to you guys. I’ll check back to see some more insightful posts and opinions on this subject.

  39. Annika Hackler says

    Hey there , I m writing because I have the same digestive issues as you,, I have been diagnosed with colitis and esophagitis , I also have intestinal inflammation and severe food allergies. I think I have a general dysbiosis with my flora. I am trying to do a fecal transplant but am having difficulty finding a donor ,, I saw something on your blog about a woman who had never had antibiotics ,, is this a friend of yours ? I would really appreciate anything you can do to help , I m just very sick and feel like this is taking my life away.
    Thanks Annika
    702-622-6920

  40. Maverick Raj says

    Asprey is simply a well-spoken salesman who uses just enough science to sell his over-priced products to the gullible “bro’s” out there. I will admit I fell for his spiel and went all in on the “bulletproof coffee”. What happened was my cholesterol shot through the roof at 300+, didn’t lose any weight, and burned my adrenals (pissing all the time, racing heartbeat). I suspect Asprey’s weight loss was due to his exogenous testosterone use and not because of IM fasting + fatty coffee.

    Asprey’s fear of mycotoxins in coffee is completely unfounded (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7451391). The same or very similar coffee he sells for $18.95 can be bought from Portland Roasting Coffee for $9.95. By limiting yourself to just wet-processed coffees you are unnecessarily restricting yourself from a great variety of awesome tasting coffees.

    If you notice, his blog is just a facade to sell his over-priced items most of which can be bought much cheaper.

  41. Nathan Wyss says

    @MaverickRaj I think your criticism of Dave is overly harsh. I can’t prove or disprove mycotoxin content in coffee, and I’ve done some testing between Dave’s Bullet Proof coffee vs my own washed coffee. Personally, I don’t feel a difference. But that could mean either I’m not mycotoxin sensitive, or my coffee has the same mycotoxin levels as his.

    BUT, he’s not the first person to use strategies like MCT oil, healthy fats, and intermittent fasting to lean out or lose weight. I believe the “trick” to a high fat diet is keeping net carbs way low, and no carbs for the first 4 hours of the day (or so). Like less than 75g per day on average. no refined sugars. Bullet Proof Coffee, aside from mycotoxin levels, is another way of saying Keto Coffee or Ketogenic Coffee, which is a proven concept. I know people who drink keto coffee with great results and I personally have great results with it.

    I’d also suggest reading The Great Cholesterol Myth and testing for LDL pattern A and B, and Triglycerides VS LDL. Your total LDL at just above 300 is a bit arbitrary to draw conclusions from. If your doctor is unaware of this, at least you should be aware of it.

    Dave’s blog and podcast have tons of FREE information on the cutting edge of health and nutrition, much of which has nothing to do with what he sells. That said, I can’t tell any difference in quality between Dave’s Upgraded MCT vs Now Sports MCT, which I can find for 33% less. However I can’t find any other brand of MCT that is purely 8 chain like his Brain Octane.

    Best of luck with your health.

  42. says

    Skip to 2:17:00 to hear Joe Rogan’s skepticism of mycotoxins.
    http://youtu.be/qh0xB4OJdpQ

    Language NSFW

    Joe makes a point better than I did. Coffee tasters taste for defects. Mold is a clear defect. Coffee professionals are not selling defective coffee with a high number. When Dave said he can taste mold in Coffee of Excellence award winning coffee, I don’t buy it anymore than if someone came in my apartment and said they could sense the presence of ghosts. Silly.

  43. Nathan Wyss says

    I did not listen to the audio in the link because I understand your point and pretty much agree. However, any one of us can send a sample of pretty much anything to specific labs that test for mycotoxins and mold. While I cup lot samples regularly for all sorts of defects, it’s not really a black and white situation of this coffee has mold or it doesn’t. It’s more like being able to taste mold or not but having no idea to what degree mold is actually present even though I can’t actually taste it. That’s where the lab equipment comes in. I’d be willing to bet that 99.99% of all green coffee we get has mold or mycotixins to some degree, even if that degree is so small its unnoticeable both taste and physical effects. I would go broke testing every sample for mycotoxins because they would all have at least a faint trace amount and I would never be able to buy coffee to resell. It comes down to the black box method that Dave uses to ensure this mycotoxin free coffee. His own taste buds and physical effects or a cleansing process or just a false claim? I have no idea. I haven’t tested his coffee with a lab, but I don’t find any physical difference in how it makes me feel compared to other high quality lighter roasted washed coffee. I do think he offers anyone valuable information for free, I respect what he does, and based on what I know of him I give him the benefit of the doubt on claims that he makes that at least he, for sure, believes them. Joe Rogan, who I like, also said that he once tried gluten free pizza, did not like it, and decided that all gluten free pizza was not worth eating. Sometimes I’m skeptical of Rogan’s skepticism.

  44. T says

    I have tried unsuccessfully to stop my 2:30 Starbucks coffee ritual for 3 years now.
    I am usually very successful when I decide to go to war with anything.
    I love coffee/drink it – no frills, full of cream or straight high quality out of my hotel with grounds floating in it and all.
    Coffee ties me to a feeling of being with my family so it’s been nearly impossible to even want to quit it.
    I have tried Bullet proof coffee.
    To me… It was devastatingly delicious.
    I felt a sustained energy with none of the usual side effects such as a drop or shakes etc.
    Since day one of trying this coffee … I have not gone to Starbucks once for coffee!
    I could be crazy but I swear since drinking it my skin has a glow.
    I feel so grateful to give it to my mother (and soon my father )
    I know I am helping her health by changing her coffee and for the latins out there … You know a 70 year old latin women – doesn’t often give up animal prints or coffee!
    I tried Daves recipe with other said to be “high quality” beans…It did not compare in taste.
    I have shared it with my inner circle as well trainers at my gym- all my reports back thus far have been the same opinion as me. It’s amazing.
    Many people I shared it with have ordered it. Including a doctor in OC who lives to help people and do extreme research on everything she comes across. She has a great reputation. Dr christy emerson.
    I have no affiliation with Dave but since trying his coffee I wrote him a letter of thanks.
    He has made a difference in my day quite simple there’s no price that can be put on that.
    I love this coffee and until I find something better will share it with everyone I know and love.

    Toni jevicky

  45. Barry says

    I’m a straight espresso drinker, 6-8 shots a day for the last 20 years. I roast my own beans and I recently experimented with the Bulletproof recipe. I haven’t tried the MCT oil but blended my home roasted brew with Kerry Gold butter. I was very pleasantly surprised, loved it. What’s more, it satiated me to way past lunch time. So now my routine is 4 shots in the AM with Kerry Gold and 4 straight shots about 4 PM for a pick me up. DK about the mental alertness – already good ( I think!)
    bb

  46. NeilC says

    The idea that the jitters from consuming coffee are as a result of mycotoxins is laughable. I get jitters from Red Bull, caffeine tablets or coffee. Only one might contain small amounts of mycotoxins yet all contain caffeine – a stimulant which is known to make you jittery if you overdo it or are sensitive to it. That silly claim alone is a massive reg flag.

    Then I have to ask about this study that proved execs performed better on this special coffee. Where are the links. Many studies are worthless, fail to show what they claim, are performed badly and, maybe importantly here – have financial interests involved.

    Seems to me that the entire raft of claims depend on one central claim that the levels of mycotoxins found in liquid brewed coffee when drank in normal quantities have all these supposedly negative mental effects (as ill-defined as they are).

    Where is the independent, scientific evidence backing this up? – I cannot find it on the internet. That indicates to me that there isn’t much of body of evidence. All links end up back at the site selling the coffee….

  47. Roland says

    Three things: first, I can say that I was very happy with Viking Coffee on 6th, when I was in Tacoma (I miss Tacoma!).
    Second, I saw a comment in this chain about Ghee. SHould this replace the Kerry Gold, or is Kerry Gold still better for weight loss? Finally, I never drank coffee for 30 years because of jitteriness and stomach upset. But now that I use a highaltitude, single bean arabica from Central America, I don’t get those problems any more. So yes, this is an n=1 sample, but it works for me. I didn’t have to buy Dave’s coffee, but because he was kind enough to tell us how to get it on our own, I didn’t have to. He’s merely offering an option; the massive amount of info that he makes available on his website more than atones for the fact that he offers an option. Why is the web filled with critical knowitalls?

  48. NeilC says

    “Why is the web filled with critical knowitalls?”

    It’s hard to say but I suspect it’s because the web is full of snake-oil salesmen and their gullible shills.

    Your n=1 sample is actually an n=1 sample with no blinding and no controls. And you don’t even know if your coffee actually has less mycotoxins in it. So it’s completely worthless.

    What is so bad about asking people who are making cash from products with outlandish claims from providing the actual evidence to back them up?

    As for the type of butter for weight loss – given than the majority effect of buttery coffee isn’t actually down to the type of fats but mostly to do with the appetite suppression and subsequent calorie reduction…..it almost certainly makes no significant difference.

  49. Roland says

    @NeilC: You’re right, the web IS filled with snake oil salesmen and their gullible shills. IF Dave had promoted his Upgraded Coffee as the ONLY way to get mycotoxin-free coffee, then yes, he could possibly have been a snake oil salesman. The fact that he also provides the algorithm to find good coffee on your own, *without charging for that*, suggests that he is not.

    As already mentioned, the massive amount of information he provides gratis at his website is further indication. I haven’t seen attacks on all the podcasts or the helpful Bulletproof diet infographic… He should spend years of research and money on biohacking and not profit a little from it by reselling the products he’s found to work? Come on. It is also true as pointed out by several here at this site, that one cannot detect mycotoxins in their coffee by taste. What I know is that the symptoms I was having, decades before I’d heard of mycotoxins, are not present in the coffees I now select and drink.

    I can say this: I watched a podcast of a talk Dave gave–he had severe allergy problems as a child, growing up in a mold-filled basement. As a result, he is clearly more concernted/focused on mycotoxins and other allergens than the average person would be. In a word, I understand where he’s coming from. Dave’s site has improved my quality of life, and the only thing I use from it is the MCT oil.

  50. says

    @Roland – RE: Tacoma. Did you mean Valhalla Coffee? If you do ever return to 6th Ave in Tacoma, check out Bluebeard and Metronome. BB is my favorite coffee place between Seattle and Portland.

  51. Roland says

    Sorry, yes, I meant Valhalla Coffee. Valhalla–you know, where all the Vikings end up when we die…

  52. NeilC says

    Personally I don’t see that just because there are other methods of finding coffee with potentially lower levels of mycotoxins means that selling a coffee at a huge mark-up on the basis of outlandish and unproven claims makes it OK. He still makes plenty of money from it and other (more ludicrous) items on his website. Providing free content to get people involved and buying is Internet Marketing 101. Maybe he’s a great guy who believes his hype or maybe he’s a cynical marketer. I don’t really care. What do care about are actual facts vs unproven claims resulting in money being taken.

    Again I ask:

    Where is the science proving that the levels of mycotoxins found in normal liquid coffee are harmful and have the effects he claims? This is critical to the value of his product.

    Where is the independent data on the batches of coffee he sells? How do we know what levels of toxins any particular bag has in in it? The levels of these things change depending on the seasons, varying conditions and so on. All we have is his word for it. Why no “Guaranteed to contain less than X ug of mycotoxins per KG” on the bag? This is also critical to the value of his product.

    Neither you nor Dave have any real idea if mycotoxins have anything to do with how you feel. It would be impossible for you to know.

    I cannot tell the difference between the supposed toxin-sensivity, upgraded-genius Dave Asprey and the self-deluded, pseudo-scientific, hypochrondriac Dave Asprey.

    “Biohacking” – really, what do it actually mean?

  53. says

    @NeilC – I too share your skepticism.

    The purpose of this post wasn’t to address the mycotoxin issue, but to encourage those that love coffee to pursue home coffee roasting. If wet processed coffees from high altitude Central American countries are the safest, which I don’t know enough to agree and disagree with, then seeking those unroasted green beans is an easy task.

    Personally I consume coffee from all regions and all forms of processing. I have found no difference in my cognitive performance.

    If someone believes Dave, but is also squeezed for cash, I’d invite them to buy his beans and then also start home roasting. Have someone else perform a blind test on them with both coffees to see if one can feel a difference. I would be surprised if 1% of the population could tell the difference and if that difference warranted the price differential.

  54. NeilC says

    Home roasting sounds like fun full-stop if you’re into coffee like that. I’m sure it’s like growing your own tomatoes – they taste better to you however they turn out because they’re unique to your efforts. I can’t see any sensible reason to worry about the level of aflatoxins in brewed coffee (as opposed to nuts, fruits, cereals, spices, juices etc etc) but you’re right, if you’re that worried then process your own and be more sure than you ever could be by buying a product you never saw being made that provides no scientific testing for the batch you paid for.

    I was interested in BP coffee from a weight-control perspective but reading into it, not only am I completely unconvinced about the Upgraded Coffee product but I’m skeptical of the benefits of the whole fatty-coffee idea in general. There is no doubt that a couple of tablespoons worth of fat in your breakfast has a remarkable appetite suppression effect in some people including me. However food is for nutrition. And BPC is just about the least nutritious way of suppressing your appetite I can think of. It’s fat+coffee. Alternatives include the same calories of porridge (oatmeal to the Yanks), eggs, bacon, nuts and so on. All of these contain stacks more nutrients than blobs of pure fat. One nutrition concept that never seems get proven wrong despite ever evolving research is the idea of basing your diet on a range of nutritious, relatively unprocessed foods.

    Then there are the health concerns. Sure the trajectory of research seems to be pointing to the link between SFAs and heart disease being much weaker and more complex than we previously imagined but the research does not categorically demonstrate that it’s a good idea now target significant portions of SFAs on a daily basis. Anecdotally, a google search for “bulletproof coffee high cholesterol” shows an alarming array of people on forums worrying about sudden increases in LDL levels and bad ratios from their BPC experiments.

    As for the “amazing mental clarity” – all I can say is that I cannot notice any difference at all and I can find no convincing reasons why anyone should over and above the placebo effect. What I did notice was that my coffee tasted unpleasantly oily.

  55. nathan wyss says

    Neil, you seem to say all fats are equal, which is untrue. Also, if you do more research on cholesterol than a Google search you may come up with better data than forum hearsay. I recommend books called the Great Cholesterol Myth, Grain Brain, and Death By Food Pyramid. But I agree that the fuss over mycotoxins may be irrelevant for the 99.99% of the population that is not sensitive.

    If anyone cares, you can probably find Now brand pharmaceutical grade MCT for considerably less than Dave’s MCT at your local health food store.

  56. NeilC says

    Nathan – if you can point me to the bit where I say that all fats are equal I’d be grateful. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even imply it.

    Fats differ in form and function, risk and reward no doubt. However what constitutes “healthy fats” is actually unknown right now and a topic of much debate and research. Therefore deliberately targeting the consumption of any particular pure fat by the spoonful is a speculative and potentially harmful personal experiment.

    I’ve already read the Chloresterol Myth book and plenty of other work on fats and it’s pretty clear that we simply don’t know what is going on at this point in time. No doubt the sat-fat and cholesterol link was overplayed for too long. Now we are in danger of swinging the other way. Food faddists have gone from eschewing all sat fats to now gulping them down with a vengeance. IMO to do this you need to be CERTAIN that it’s a good idea. Nobody can be given the available data.

    MCT oil – chances are it’s this month’s “wonder-food”, next year’s “meh” and next decade’s “Oh dear, if only we’d known”.

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