Butter in Coffee: Is it Really Bulletproof?

Bulletproof coffee first hit the scenes in 2009 and since that time has grown beyond recognition.

From one man blogging about putting butter in coffee to a national chain, the rise has been immense.

Many people love drinking this buttered coffee each morning, claiming it helps improve weight loss, concentration, and energy levels.

But as with many things, there are two sides to every story.

This article will take a look at this popular coffee drink and whether or not it really is ‘bulletproof.’

What is Bulletproof Coffee?

A Picture Showing Coffee With Lots of Butter In It.

At its most basic, Bulletproof Coffee is simply coffee with added butter and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).

Developed by Dave Asprey, a man known as the ‘bulletproof exec,’ the drink first came to fame in 2009 when Dave shared his recipe with the world.

He probably did not expect the wild success since then, but the drink has become a national hit in America.

In fact, recently, Bulletproof Coffee cafes became a reality and are now a nationwide chain in the United States.

There are also different variants of the drink, with some people using coconut oil in their morning coffee, and others using only butter.

As the drink contains only fat and no carbohydrates, it is understandably one of the most popular keto drinks and is sometimes known as ‘ketogenic coffee’ (or ‘keto coffee’ for short).

It is also popular with proponents of paleo and low-carb diets.

So, Why Put Butter in Coffee?

A Businessman Drinking a Cup of Bulletproof Coffee.

The stated purpose of Bulletproof Coffee is to provide clean, fast energy with no crash.

For example, proponents claim that Bulletproof Coffee will provide sustained energy with no sugar crash due to its “high quality” fat content.

Because the drink is fairly calorie-dense, people often view it as a replacement for a traditional breakfast.

Key Point: Bulletproof Coffee is a coffee drink with large amounts of butter in it. Proponents claim the drink gives long-lasting energy.

Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

Here are the ingredients in the standard recipe for Bulletproof Coffee (1):

  • 1-2 cups of coffee
  • At least 1-2 tbsp of grass-fed butter (unsalted)
  • 1-2 tbsp of MCT oil

There is a lot of emphasis on putting grass-fed butter in the coffee, as it is claimed by proponents that grass-fed animals produce butter with a healthier nutrient profile.

While there can be some differences, it is worth noting that these nutritional differences are relatively minor.

What is MCT oil?

MCT oil is a type of fat typically made from certain fatty acids in coconut and palm oil (2).

MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, fats with a medium-sized length.

Also, MCTs are safe to consume, and much easier to digest than other forms of fat as they don’t require bile salts for digestion (3).

However, many people making Bulletproof Coffee use coconut oil rather than MCT oil, due to the lower price.

How to Make Bulletproof Coffee

A Coffee Grinder Full of Beans.

Putting butter in your coffee can either taste okay or terrible.

It all depends on how you make it, so you want to ensure that the butter thoroughly blends into the coffee.

Here is the process in four simple steps:

  • Brew your coffee and add it to a blender
  • Add the amount of grass-fed butter you desire
  • Put in the MCT oil
  • Mix in the blender until everything is fully mixed in, and the coffee resembles a frothy latte.

It’s a bit more time-consuming than brewing a regular coffee, and worlds apart from making a cup of instant coffee.

Key Point: The drink uses coffee, grass-fed butter and MCT oil. However, make sure to blend it properly – it doesn’t taste good if there’s an ‘oil slick’ of butter on the top.

Nutritional Breakdown

So, what does the nutritional profile of buttered coffee look like?

For some quick basics:

  • There are no carbohydrates in the coffee
  • It is very high in fat
  • Beneficial nutrients include vitamin A and vitamin K2, but in small amounts

You can find a full breakdown of nutrients in the drink below. For your information, this Bulletproof Coffee nutritional data shows the nutrient profile when using two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of MCT oil.


The Nutrition and Micronutrient Profile of Bulletproof Coffee.

As we can see, the recipe contains zero carbohydrates, virtually no protein, and a significant amount of dietary fat.

There is also a total of 328 calories in the drink.


Table Showing the Micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals) In Bulletproof Coffee.

In the first place, we can see that the standout nutrients are vitamin A and riboflavin (otherwise known as vitamin B2).

Aside from this, there are not any other nutrients in significant quantities.

Key Point: The amount of vitamins and minerals in Bulletproof Coffee is not so impressive. The main point of the drink is to get energy from the large amounts of dietary fat.

Butter in Coffee: The Benefits

Bulletproof Coffee would not be so popular if people experienced no benefits.

Specifically, most people replacing a typical breakfast with a cup of Bulletproof Coffee are probably seeing some degree of weight loss. While the company may claim their “high-quality” ingredients cause this, the more accurate reason would be reduced energy intake.

For instance, replacing cereal, pancakes, or cooked breakfast and orange juice with one cup of Bulletproof Coffee would significantly lower calorie intake at breakfast.

Another potential benefit is that there are significant amounts of polyphenols in coffee, which by definition means the same is true of Bulletproof coffee.

Polyphenols are a class of phytonutrient, bioactive compounds found in plant foods (4, 5).

In fact, coffee is the biggest source of polyphenols in the average American diet (6).

Studies show that the polyphenols found in coffee could have several potential benefits, including a reduced risk of various chronic diseases (7, 8, 9).

Key Point: The majority of people who replace their breakfast with Bulletproof Coffee lose weight. Also, the drink contains large amounts of health-protective phytonutrients.

Downsides of Bulletproof Coffee

Despite all the proponents making positive claims about Bulletproof Coffee, some genuine drawbacks exist.

Displacement of More Nutritious Food

Perhaps the most important downside of Bulletproof Coffee is that the drink displaces more nutritious food.

For instance, instead of consuming 328 calories of butter and oil, you could instead consume two large eggs and half an avocado for only 303 calories (10, 11).

Likewise, porridge made with 50 grams of oats and a cup of milk would have a calorie content of approximately 343 calories (12, 13).

Bulletproof Coffee is popular among people following a low-carb diet, so how does it compare to a small low-carb cooked breakfast?

A breakfast of three eggs and an avocado is another small breakfast option that is extremely low in digestible carbohydrates.

Remember the nutritional profile we saw earlier? OK, now compare that to the nutrients that three eggs and an avocado offer:


Here are the amounts of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in three eggs and an avocado:

Picture showing the macronutrient profile of eggs and an avocado.

As shown above, this breakfast is high in (mainly monounsaturated) fat.

There is also a small amount of carbohydrates, the vast majority of which are from dietary fiber.

Lastly, there is a relatively decent amount of protein: 21.5g.


Here is the vitamin and mineral content in three eggs and an avocado:

The Vitamin and Mineral Profile For Three Eggs And An Avocado.

As the data shows, this breakfast offers an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, K, and B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.

In short, it provides far more essential nutrients than Bulletproof Coffee.

Food vs. Butter in Coffee

When it comes down to it, there is only one winner concerning nutritional profile: real food.

Compared to eggs and avocado, porridge, muesli, or even fish, bacon, meat or any other breakfast food — consuming butter and oil in your coffee comes nowhere close nutritionally.

If one enjoys it, then there is no real issue with drinking a cup of Bulletproof Coffee from time to time instead of a meal.

However, if the drink regularly displaces more nutritious food, then that is a net negative, nutritionally.

Key Point: Whole foods provide a far greater provision of beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Bulletproof Coffee Contains High Amounts of Saturated Fat

As we saw in the earlier nutritional data for Bulletproof Coffee, the drink contains a large amount (28.3 grams) of saturated fat.

The current dietary guidance for saturated fat intake is to keep intake to under 10% of daily energy intake. Since 28 grams of saturated fat is approximately 255 calories, this is more than the total recommended saturated fat intake, based on a 2000-calorie diet (14, 15).

Consuming high levels of saturated fat can increase LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, with higher LDL-C being strongly associated with cardiovascular disease and mortality (16, 17, 18).

Final Thoughts

Bulletproof Coffee is a combination of coffee, butter, and oil.

While some proponents claim the drinks helps weight loss and provides energy, there is no research of note on Bulletproof Coffee.

However, there are some large drawbacks in regard to its lack of nutritional value and high saturated fat content.

Providing someone tolerates coffee well, the drink is probably fine to drink from time to time.

But it shouldn’t replace a healthier, nutritious, breakfast.

Real food always wins.

Photo of author

Michael Joseph, MSc

Michael works as a nutrition educator in a community setting and holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. He believes in providing reliable and objective nutritional information to allow informed decisions.

10 thoughts on “Butter in Coffee: Is it Really Bulletproof?”

  1. This is a great article, present the facts for and against whilst still allowing for the individual to make up their own minds. Thoroughly enjoyed and will link with permission to my blog.

  2. Thanks for the article, enjoyed reading it! Certainly of interest to me at the moment as I have recently started the bulletproof coffee again in the mornings. However, I don’t use it as a replacement for a cooked breakfast as I typically have the bulletproof coffee with a cooked breakfast also, like 2-3 eggs cooked in butter with some salmon and cheese.

  3. Thank you for another excellent article. It helps me that you always include references to scientific data in all your articles. My vote is for full fat cream – tastes yummy and keeps me going until lunch. Most days I do not have time for a real food breakfast. Keep up the good work you are doing!

  4. Heavy cream is really good but doesn’t butter have the hard to get vitamin A? I thought coffee was addicting and should be limited though.

    • Butter does contain vit A, but it doesn’t mean we need to eat large amounts of it.

      For reference, a tablespoon of butter has around 7% of the RDA for vitamin A, and cream provides around 4%. Arguably better sources of vitamin A are eggs, oily fish, and orange veggies.

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