The first crisp morning of fall calls for doing things a little differently — I can't be the only person wearing boots and long sleeves today — so this morning, I decided to try butter coffee, a concept I'd heard about a few weeks ago.
(It didn't hurt that we were out of milk, so I was going to need some help getting a proper cup of coffee anyway.)
Terry Grier, who with his wife Vickie does a cool podcast called When in Austin, introduced me to this idea a few weeks ago, and at first, I thought it was a Terry Thing, not a Thing Thing. Terry tweeted about drinking what sounded like a coffee protein shake, and a few Google searches later, I found out that adding grassfed butter and concentrated coconut oil to coffee has become a popular breakfast of choice for people, especially those in the Paleo camp, who want a shot of protein with their caffeine.
There are all kinds of reasons why people might be avoiding milk (or eggs or other sources of protein) for breakfast, or why they prefer grassfed butter and coconut oil over heavy cream or powdered creamer in their coffee, and I'm not one to judge or promote certain dietary choices over others. I was just curious about how it tasted.
After all, isn't butter just a few shakes away from cream?
To get a primer on butter coffee, I went to Picnik Austin, the Paleo eatery/cafe inside a storage container at 1700 S. Lamar Blvd., where a friendly barista named Austin answered my many questions about the coffee, which starts at $4.25 for 12 ounces. They used an immersion blender to combine regularly brewed coffee with unsalted Kerrygold butter and something called Medium Chain Triglycerides oil, which is made with concentrated coconut and palm kernel oils. (You'll sometimes hear butter coffee called "Bulletproof" because Bulletproof is the name of a company that sells MCT oils and has done a lot to promote this butter coffee concept.)
The coffee didn't taste as "buttery" as I expected, and the coconut flavors from the MCT oil was hardly perceptible. You could definitely feel the extra fat on your tongue, which I enjoyed, but my palate needed a hint of honey to make up for the lack of sweetness from whole milk, which is what I usually use to fortify my morning cup o' joe.
But is butter coffee really a healthier form of rocket fuel? It could be the caffeine talking, but I do feel energized with those extra calories and out-of-the-ordinary nutrients in my belly this early in the day. Am I going to invest in an immersion blender (or lug out the regular blender) and special MCT oil so I can make it at home every morning? Probably not, but I wouldn't turn a butter coffee down in the future.
Picnik is the only place in Austin (that I know of, at least) where you buy a cup of butter coffee, but plenty of folks are making it at home. Deglutenized and Delicious blogger Teresa Morris puts cocoa in her butter coffee, and Grier adds whey protein powder and vanilla extract to his. Local nutritional therapist Elaine DiRico says she sometimes wakes up an hour early thinking about her "greasy coffee."
What's your secret to a killer cup of coffee? Have you ever tried unusual additions like salt or butter?