Butter in coffee. Is it a real thing or just another crazy internet fad? Unafraid of a challenge, we (the Coffee Dorks) set out to put this interesting sounding beverage to the test. Spoiler alert: it’s pretty amazing! You can read about the science behind butter coffee and a fool-proof recipe here in our short guide.
Crazy or Cool?
Putting butter into coffee sounds weirdly yum. Rich, fatty butter combined with the rich, intense flavor of coffee. After all, most of us are fond of milk in coffee, so switching one dairy for another isn’t really big leap.
From our research, we found that there are a couple different kinds of “butter coffee” recipes that people are using. The first is simply butter blended with black coffee (the butter replaces milk and sugar), the second is bulletproof coffee (more details below) and the last is, well, really up to you. People are adjusting their butter coffee recipes to suit their tastes.
Coconut oil can be used for its added health benefits and taste. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and even chili powder can really lift the heavy butter flavor and create some familiar Starbuck’s inspired special drinks. Furthermore, depending on the coffee beans you use, the butter can also really draw out a new dimension in the coffee flavor.
On a molecular level, butter coffee is actually quite healthy for you IF you use the right butter and lead a healthy, balanced diet.
Skipping breakfast is something more people choose to do, in a rush to get into the office on time they just grab a cup of coffee along the way. Butter coffee is much more nutritious than just a simple cup of drip coffee with milk and sugar. Some argue that it can actually replace breakfast altogether, providing you with the energy to make it to lunch without crashing.
Not sure how some butter will replace eggs, bacon and rye toast, but what do I know?
Is It the Same as Bulletproof Coffee?
Bulletproof coffee is a concoction of coffee, grass-fed butter, and oils (usually palm or coconut). It’s actually a brand name for a particular coffee too – so you can buy your butter coffee more conveniently rather than purchasing the ingredients separately.
The palm and coconut oils are used as they provide an excellent source of healthy, unsaturated fats and vitamins. However, this doesn’t mean that the bad fats in many kinds of butter (those saturated fats) are eradicated. Too much butter coffee is very bad for you – read more in our “Things to AVOID” section below.
Butter in Coffee Recipe
You will need:
- Unsalted, grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is the most well-known brand)
- Coffee (drip coffee works best. Use fresh coffee grounds and brew to your desired strength)
- Coconut oil (optional but recommended if you’re after those amazing health benefits.)
Make your coffee. Stronger is better!
Pour the coffee into your blender along with 1 or 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of coconut oil. The coconut oil should be solid at room temperature, but don’t worry it will melt right down with the hot coffee.
If you’re adding extra flavors, like a few drops of vanilla extract or even a spoonful of pumpkin puree, now is the time to add them.
Blend! The butter and coconut oil will quickly melt into the coffee but keep blending until it’s thoroughly combined and you’ve got a nice, frothy layer on top.
Pour into your mug, enjoy and watch out for butter coffee mustaches.
Grass-fed butter is the only butter you should be using for this type of beverage. There are several reasons why, but let’s start with the nutritional value of grass-fed butter.
According to Health.gov, you shouldn’t be having more than 20g of saturated fats per day (for 2000 calorie diet). In one tablespoon of Kerrygold unsalted butte,r you’ve got 4g of saturated fat. It also contains fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, omega-3 and vitamin K. Those are good, trust us.
In comparison, a general, corn-fed butter contains almost double the level of saturated fat in 1 tbsp (7.1g according to USDA) higher cholesterol, no conjugated linoleic acid and minimal nutrients.
The next reason is taste. Kerrygold butter genuinely does taste better. We tested out butter coffee with Kerrygold and an own-brand, corn-fed butter. Every single Coffee Dork could taste the difference in a blind test.
Finally, this might not sway you, but grass is much more pleasant for cows to chow down on. We’d rather see Bessy grazing out in a field than locked up with grains to nibble on!
Things to AVOID
Butter coffee is difficult to get wrong, but it’s still possible. Make sure you’re not doing any of these things.
Using Salted Butter
You don’t need salt in your coffee – it’s not good for your diet and it really doesn’t improve the coffee taste as much as you would expect. You can create beautiful, buttery coffee without added salt.
Mixing Instead of Blending
When you blend the butter coffee, you are really breaking down those fats and ensuring they are fully combined with the coffee. Mashing, mixing or melting in butter isn’t going to bind in the same way. Also, you’ll likely be left with a buttery layer floating on top and darker coffee settling at the bottom of your mug.
An Unbalanced Diet
Drinking a cup of bulletproof coffee is going to fill you with energy, sure. When we drank it we certainly found it filling!
But you also need to remember that 100% of your calories from this drink are from fat intake. Regardless of whether those fats are good for you or not, the simple fact is, it’s NOT a healthy, balanced diet to drink bulletproof coffee regularly.
For example, carrots are healthy vegetables packed with good nutrients we need. But, if you solely ate carrots every meal for months on end, that would be a seriously unhealthy, unbalanced diet. The key, as always, is a balance and mix of different foods, nutrients, and flavors.
So, no matter how much you love butter coffee and reap the benefits of the healthy fats it contains, you MUST balance your diet and understand that your fat intake for the rest of the day needs to be drastically reduced.
The Benefits of Using Butter in Coffee
When drank as part of a balanced diet, butter coffee can have these amazing health benefits:
- Improve your skin. The good fats (unsaturated fats and omegas) that are in grass-fed butter work wonders for your skin. The cellular walls in our bodies are made from fats, so this is an integral part of the diet.
- Speed up metabolism. The fatty acids in coconut oil are medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized much faster than other foods. This means more nutrients are absorbed by the body in a shorter space of time, making you feel fuller faster and clearing out your bloodstream of high sugar levels.
- Lower sugar levels (even further). Compared to the flavored drinks from Starbucks, Costa and others, there’s a lot less sugar in your drink. While some special lattes from Starbucks can have as much as 50g of sugar in them, your butter coffee contains as much or as little sugar as you like.
- You’re less likely to snack. Having a hearty, filling breakfast will give you enough fuel to reach lunch. The less hungry you are in the morning, the less likely you are to snack and you’re also less likely to order a humungous, carb/fat filled lunch too.
Why not give butter coffee a try yourself? You can find recommendations for fantastic drip coffee machines on our blog – use a good quality coffee and a rich, grass-fed butter to create your own, delicious beverage at home.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.