Lifestyle Guide

Butter Coffee: History, Why People Make It, & Alternatives

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Butter coffee is typically made by adding a few tablespoons of butter and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil to coffee. Beyond bringing a rich flavor and creamy consistency to your cup of coffee, it might also offer a few health benefits.

In fact, fans of butter coffee swear by its ability to boost energy levels, rev up weight loss, and fine-tune focus. It’s become particularly popular among keto dieters and those practicing intermittent fasting, who claim that it can help speed up the transition into ketosis1, a metabolic state that uses fat for fuel instead of sugar.

“Although blending butter or oil into one’s morning cup of coffee seems like a recent trend, people have been adding animal fats to their coffee for well over one thousand years,” Hannah Cutting-Jones, Ph.D., a food historian and the Director of Food Studies at the University of Oregon, tells mindbodygreen.

“Sometime between 575-850 CE, Ethiopians consumed coffee beans crushed up with animal fat (probably ghee, or clarified butter) to provide them with energy, stamina, and courage,” Cutting-Jones adds.

According to Cutting-Jones, the practice is still pretty common in many parts of the world, including Tibet and certain areas in India, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Its recent resurgence may be thanks to American entrepreneur David Asprey, who visited Tibet in 2009 and “came home a believer in the physical and mental benefits of drinking coffee with yak butter,” Cutting-Jones says. Once he was back in the United States, Asprey developed his recipe for Bulletproof coffee made with coffee, MCT oil, and butter, launching the trend throughout the Western world.

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