Have your slightly eccentric, health-conscious friends told you yet about butter coffee? It's a popular health trend and one poised to stick because a) it's brilliantly healthy and b) it's effortlessly prepared using two all-time favorite foods.
1. There's Nothing Weird About it
To some, the concept of mixing butter and coffee is certainly weird and/or gross. But what about cream? Is it weird/gross to put cream in coffee? Of course not. It's completely ordinary. Considering that butter is simply churned cream, why would butter coffee be weird?
The "cream" normally added to coffee is of course half-and-half, meaning equal parts milk and cream. By stirring half-and-half into coffee one easily achieves a homogenous consistency. Stirring doesn't work, however, with butter or straight cream because the fat is too concentrated. Perhaps some people are mistakenly envisioning butter coffee as black coffee with oily butter floating about, as per this photo. What an unfortunate misconception.
Enter a butter coffee drinker's kitchen and you'll undoubtedly see a blender, prominently positioned on the counter. Butter coffee drinkers blend their cherished concoctions into lavish, frothy delights. Butter coffee is a modern, Western take on an ancient Tibetan tradition. For centuries, Tibetans have been churning tea with yak butter and salt to make po cha, a creamy, nourishing beverage. So there's nothing abnormal about blending full-fat dairy into caffeinated beverages, and with nutritional science increasingly demonstrating the wonderful health properties of both butter and coffee, it's no wonder the latest nutritional innovation includes both.
2. A Coffee a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Coffee is an antioxidant powerhouse. According to research conducted by University of Scranton professor Joe Vinson, coffee is the richest source of antioxidants for Americans, providing 1,299 mg daily compared to 294 mg from black tea, the second richest source. Fruits and vegetables pale in comparison with bananas providing 76 mg, apples 39 mg, and tomatoes 32 mg.
Coffee was once seen as an unhealthy indulgence. Modern research, however, increasingly demonstrates that coffee protects against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease, while improving cognitive function and decreasing susceptibility to depression. Furthermore, a large observational study involving 128,000 people demonstrated that increased coffee consumption is associated with decreased all-cause mortality.
3. Butter Is a Superfood
It's fashionable these days to pay big bucks for trendy tropical berries marketed as superfoods. Surely these foods are healthy, but perhaps we're too easily seduced by exoticism, failing to recognize traditional staples like butter and eggs as the nutrient-dense superfoods they are.
Butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins, including A, E, and K2. Its vitamin A is retinol, the preferred variety, as opposed to beta-carotene, the variety found in plant foods. The equivalency ratio of beta-carotene to retinol is an estimated twelve to one. In other words, retinol is twelve times more potent than beta-carotene.
Some people think full-fat dairy promotes cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and obesity. Observational evidence, however, doesn't support this notion. In fact, a 2013 study showed that full-fat dairy consumption is inversely associated with obesity.
4. Butter Is Popular as Ever
In the US, the numbers are even more impressive. Butter consumption increased 25 percent during the past decade, recently reaching a 40-year high. Butter's triumph is margarine's demise. Margarine consumption has been plummeting, recently reaching a 70-year low. Regarding sales volumes, butter sales are up 65 percent since 2000, whereas margarine sales are down 30 percent.
5. Demand for Premium Coffee Is Growing
By 2013, 14 percent of UK consumers (roughly 3.7 million households) owned coffee capsule machines. Market research group Mintel explains that UK consumers developed a taste for premium coffeehouse coffee and now want to enjoy such quality at home.
The US is seeing similar trends. One-third of the population reports drinking gourmet coffee daily. Twenty-nine percent of US coffee drinkers used capsule machines in 2013 to prepare their daily coffees, up from 20 percent in 2012.
Conclusion and Recipe
Those who drink butter coffee do so for health reasons and typically prefer premium quality products. Current trends include increased demand for premium coffee, increased demand for butter, and increased interest in healthy lifestyles. Considering that butter coffee is easy and relatively inexpensive to prepare (compared to capsule coffee), it seems this trend is here to stay.
To make butter coffee, simply brew one cup to your liking and blend with 1 to 2 teaspoons of butter. I use a French press to make roughly 3 cups of relatively weak coffee, then blend it with 2 tablespoons butter. I sip this creamy 200 calorie breakfast casually throughout the morning, feeling well-satiated until lunch.
Christopher James Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Nutritional Grail: Ancestral Wisdom, Breakthrough Science, and the Dawning Nutritional Renaissance