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November 5, 2020

How to Make Vegan Bulletproof Coffee
Tasty Alternatives Without Butter

Rafid Nassir
Published by Rafid Nassir
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED

The first time I heard the phrase "Bulletproof Coffee" was on a trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had somehow gotten myself invited to a brunch attended mostly by crypto startup entrepreneurs who were in the city for a conference.

When the waiter showed up, the first round of orders was almost comical - the words "bulletproof coffee" being repeated about a dozen times. Sadly, there weren't any vegan bulletproof coffee options on the menu, so I had to sit the order out.

Since then, I have done some research into a plant-based version of bulletproof coffee, and I'm happy to present the results below.

Read, make, enjoy!

What is Bulletproof Coffee?

bullet proof coffee

Popularized by American author and entrepreneur Dave Asprey, Bulletproof coffee is a keto-friendly, semi-meal replacement drink that offers a bunch of health benefits.

Advocates claim to experience enhanced brain function, decreased appetite, and more physical energy. Some of these praises even come from highly credible sources.

"It keeps hunger at bay and has enhanced my mental clarity and sharpness 20 to 25 percent." - Dr. Jeffrey Gladd, M.D [1]

Unlike many dietary "fads," bulletproof coffee isn't overwhelmed with controversy. Its contingent of enthusiastic ambassadors is nicely balanced out by logical skeptics, without fanatics on either side of this spectrum.

For me, this lack of fanaticism is always a sign that a dietary trend is worth taking seriously.

Bulletproof Coffee Recipe (The Original Way)

Non-vegan bulletproof coffee is made by blending a cup of organic coffee with a generous scoop of unsalted, grass-fed butter, and MCT oil.

The original recipe says that in 1 cup of brewed coffee, you can use:

  • Anything from 1 tbsp - 2 tbsp of butter or 1-2 tsp of grass-fed ghee.
  • Anything from 1 tsp - tbsp of MCT oil is typically used, with those new to the drink urged to start at the lower end of this spectrum.

As you can probably tell from the ingredients, this isn't your average cuppa joe; it's absolutely LOADED with saturated fat. 

Many of you would also have noted that it's not appropriate for people following a plant-based diet. While most of the ingredients are fine for vegans, butter and ghee are both dairy products - rendering this original recipe out of bounds.

Before we get to our choice for the best vegan versions of bulletproof coffee (and yes, there are plenty of options), let's answer a couple of questions about the original product.

What is MCT Oil?

mct oil in jar

MCT oil? Sounds like something you'd buy in a vape shop, right? In actual fact, MCT oil - also referred to by the Bulletproof brand as "Brain Octane Oil" - is mostly a coconut oil and palm oil extract.

MCT stands for "medium-chain triglyceride." Their chain length makes them easily digestible and a very healthy alternative to other long-chain fatty acids [2].

Is Consuming This Amount of Fat Healthy?

Those following a keto lifestyle certainly think so. Consuming healthy fats is a large aspect of their lifestyle. However, opinions on the overall health benefits and drawbacks of bulletproof coffee are quite varied.

Advocates believe that it's a great way to suppress your appetite throughout the day and act as a sustainable energy source from non-carbohydrates.

Bulletproof coffee detractors, on the other hand, say that there are three areas of concern [3]:

  1. It lacks nutrients and isn't an ideal replacement for breakfast.
  2. Although disputed in the scientific community, some science proves the health risks of consuming large quantities of the saturated fats found in bulletproof coffee [4].
  3. Studies have shown a link between butter consumption and a rise in LDL (bad) cholesterol [5]. Drinking a cup of bulletproof coffee every morning could result in a cholesterol spike.

So, to answer the question about the health and sustainability of drinking bulletproof coffee, the jury seems to be out on the last two of these three points.

No doubt, more conflicting evidence will continue to emerge, so it's hard to make a definitive statement on this topic.

Vegan Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

We're going to take a journey here. There are as many alterations and variations when making vegan bulletproof coffee as there are with the original recipe. Let's start at the beginning.

What's the recipe for the most basic version of vegan bulletproof coffee?

Ingredients

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

  • Organic coffee - 1 cup
    As with the original recipe, the coffee you use here is pretty important. Make sure your beans are sourced from a producer that doesn't use any pesticides and herbicides.
  • Organic (raw) extra virgin coconut oil - 1 tsp to 1 tbsp
    This is a natural source of MCTs that are found in the Bulletproof brand's Brain Octane Oil.
  • Non-dairy milk (coconut milk or almond milk) - 1 to 2 tbsp
    You use coconut milk or almond milk mostly to create the rich, frothy texture synonymous with traditional bulletproof coffee. I found it's best to opt for the unsweetened variety of both these products.
  • Almond butter - 1 to 2 tbsp
    Almond butter adds an extra layer of frothy goodness to your cup of coffee. On top of this textural enhancement, almond butter is also a fantastic source of Magnesium and Vitamin E [6].

Preparation and Cooking

You can make bulletproof coffee (of the vegan variety) in around 10 minutes.

  1. Brew your coffee using whatever method you prefer.
  2. Pour the coffee along with the coconut oil, non-dairy milk, and almond butter into a blender.
  3. Blend until the mixture's achieved a consistently smooth and creamy texture.
  4. Pour the blend over ice, or reheat in a pan. If you want the hot version, be sure to remove the mixture from the heat before it boils.

There are variations to this recipe where the brewed coffee is poured into a cup and the remaining ingredients added afterward. I found the effort involved in preventing the coconut oil and almond butter from separating a little too much.

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3 Plant-Based Coffee Variations

bullet proof coffee ingredients

1. Coconut Butter as The MCT Source

Coconut oil is the ingredient-of-choice for almost every single vegan recipe of bulletproof coffee. However, after a friend recommended this, I experimented with using coconut butter to replace coconut oil.

The result was a richer, thicker brew that I enjoyed, but not as much as the coconut oil version.

2. Cacao Butter is a Tasty Add-On

A small amount of organic cacao butter to taste, or as a replacement for the almond butter, is a nice little variation, should you feel adventurous one morning.

3. Use a Milk Frother Wand Instead of a Blender

Frothing your coffee, coconut oil, and butter mixture with a Wand can be done as quickly as 30 seconds. Setting up and cleaning a blender is a headache, so if you find yourself hooked on this amazing drink, consider investing in one of these devices.

Extra Info on Vegan Bulletproof Coffee

coffee froth

The Numerous Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an excellent replacement for butter in bulletproof coffee. Not only is it plant-based, but it also has many added health benefits. Read Healthline's excellent piece on the many perks of coconut oil consumption.

When to Drink Bulletproof Coffee?

Vegan or regular, this drink is best consumed early in the morning. Whether you want to drink your cup of coffee as a breakfast replacement or simply as a pre-brunch pickup is entirely up to you. Just be aware that there is still some debate about bulletproof coffee's adequacy as a full replacement meal.

Beware of Palm Oil

While researching the coffee recipe in this article, I found several sites that suggested (albeit with disclaimers) palm oil as a possible MCT oil source.

While palm oil is, strictly speaking, a vegan product, its production is causing havoc in many of the earth's most fragile ecosystems [8]. Bear this in mind before buying any palm oil product.

Vegan Bulletproof Coffee is Gluten-Free

Yup, that's right. Even the regular kind of bulletproof coffee is gluten-free. However, since contamination can occur at certain processing facilities, be very selective of your beans and always buy only organic coffee.

Final Thoughts on this Vegan Bulletproof Recipe

Blending a tablespoon of high-quality, unsalted, organic butter into your morning coffee is unlikely to do you any harm. In fact, it might just do the opposite, if you keep the quantity within reason, of course.

And considering the fact that there aren’t that many controversies surrounding bulletproof coffee, it’s all the more reason to take this dietary trend seriously.

So try and experiment. See if it suits your health and taste buds. Who knows, it might just be worth your while.


References

  1. https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/should-i-drink-bulletproof-coffee/
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mct-oil-benefits
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/3-reasons-why-bulletproof-coffee-is-a-bad-idea
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5642188/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29511019/
  6. http://www.freefoodfacts.com/almond-butter-nuts/
  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil
  8. https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/8-things-know-about-palm-oil

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Rafid Nassir is a health and fitness fanatic, with the main aim of maximising muscle mass and minimising body fat, with as little time investment as possible.
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