Bulletproof Coffee – the butter or the beans?

Firstly, let’s be clear, I do not drink, nor have I ever tried Bulletproof Coffee®. Am I ever likely to? Probably not, though who knows, one day I may be curious.

A recent article on Gizmodo debunking the claims made by the inventor of the beverage, The Bulletproof Executive Dave Asprey, highlights the main problem with these types of products. Namely, the dreaded brand lines which aim to monetise what is essentially a simple idea, which in itself may indeed have some merit. Yet another way to make money from the placebo effect1.

Whether blending butter from grass-fed cows and MCT oil into your daily brew has any positive effect on your body or level of functioning is another matter entirely (and I tend to fall on the side that it probably does). The issue I have here is the contention that somehow, the processing methods used in standard coffee production are inferior to those used to create the “Upgraded®” beans in the revenue-producing component of the Bulletproof version. As you will see from the video embedded in the Gizmodo article, Asprey so helpfully advises:

The Bulletproof process makes beans without the toxins that rob performance from you every single time you drink most coffee.

No, of course we don’t hear what the toxins are, how your performance is robbed, or what performance we are talking about. There are also numerous references to cognitive function, mental and physical performance, lab testing, and the curious statement that the Bulletproof beans will give you a different “mental feeling”.

Are we talking thoughts? Feelings? Performance again? I’m not sure – and this is most likely the aim. Don’t think about it too much viewers, just take my word for it, click “buy” and you will never look back.

Those who do begin their Bulletproof journey with Asprey’s beans will unfortunately never know they could achieve exactly the same outcome and pay half the price using well sourced specialty roasted coffee. Sure, they might feel better – but is it placebo, the butter or the “Upgraded®” beans? If you need me to answer that then stop reading now.

From the Bulletproof website:

I learned about the power of butter at 18,000 feet of elevation near Mt. Kailash in Tibet. I staggered into a guest house from the -10 degree weather and was literally rejuvenated by a creamy cup of yak butter tea.

So, is it the butter – or is it the beans? Clearly the Tibetans must have been using “Upgraded®” tea leaves or this wouldn’t work would it? Yet it did according to Asprey. Now I’m confused. So I don’t have to buy the special “Upgraded®” beans, because it was the butter in the tea. What’s that? I do? Oh okay then – they’re a bit expensive but if you say so.

For a little more analysis, check out the article on Gizmodo.

The biggest disappointment for me in all of this, and the many products like it, are the completely baseless and unsubstantiated claims which typically accompany a product, dragging down efforts by proponents of certain lifestyle philosophies (think Paleo, as Bulletproof coffee is often associated with this movement), which may genuinely be attempting to build a body of research in support of their claims.

Actually on second thought, the biggest disappointment is that people still put down good money for this. Remember – any positive effects only occur due to the “Upgraded®” beans – use anything else, and you’ll be drinking the same old “performance robbing” demon you always did.

So I guess for those who believe it is all about the beans, need to remember it’s also all about your credit card number.

  1. I am not ignorant to the fact that the placebo effect also enhances the effects of well scientifically researched mainstream medications, but remember these also have well documented, proven physical therapeutic effects. 
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