BUT­TERY GOOD?

If you were wear­ing a blind­fold while try­ing your first cup of Bul­let­proof Cof­fee, you might have trou­ble fig­ur­ing out what makes it so dif­fer­ent. There’s a faint nut­ti­ness to the taste, redo­lent of co­conut. And an im­pos­si­ble rich­ness that makes you feel

Los Angeles Times - - SATURDAY - BY RENE LYNCH rene.lynch@la­times.com

Whip­ping but­ter into cof­fee is old news if you’re a health hip­ster — one of those CrossFit­ting, low carb­ing, Pa­leo living, bio­hack­ing, counter-cul­ture types who be­lieves a health­ful life­style is slathered with fat.

Now, the calo­rie-laden bev­er­age is be­ing in­tro­duced to the masses with a new cafe in one of the world’s most health-con­scious cities.

“Santa Mon­ica is ground zero for those who care about how they look and feel, and this cof­fee will change the way you feel,” said its cre­ator, Dave Asprey, who is one of the In­ter­net’s most well-known “bio­hack­ers,” us­ing his own body as a petri dish of sorts for health ex­per­i­ments that play out on his popular web­site, Bul­let­proof Ex­ec­u­tive.

The Bul­let­proof Cof­fee cafe and shop is open­ing soon (ex­act date to be determined) at 3110 Main St. in Santa Mon­ica, with hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon­days through Fri­days and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Satur­days and Sun­days. Asprey says servers will use only but­ter from grass-fed, pas­tured cows, and sin­gle-ori­gin, or­ganic cof­fee that’s grown, har­vested and stored so as to be pes­ti­cide and toxin free, and less likely to cause in­flam­ma­tion in the body. The stan­dard drink also comes with a shot of “Brain Oc­tane” oil, which lends the co­conut fla­vor. There are also add-ons and up­grades (for a price, of course), such as an­tiox­i­dant herbs and spices.

A lunch menu in­cludes West Coast ar­ti­san beef, bone broth en­riched with col­la­gen and sal­ads. It prob­a­bly won’t sur­prise you that no bleach or sponges will be used on the premises, only en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and sus­tain­able clean­ing prod­ucts. Cups and con­tain­ers will be com­postable.

Bev­er­ages will be served in lab­o­ra­tory beakers. Why? Be­cause they’re cool, and be­cause cof­fee tastes bet­ter from lab­o­ra­tory-grade glass­ware, Asprey con­tends.

This fetishism over the sourc­ing of in­gre­di­ents, the at­ten­tion to en­vi­ron­men­tal de­tail and an avoid­ance of mold and tox­ins are all part of the phi­los­o­phy be­hind Asprey’s web­site and new book, “The Bul­let­proof Diet.” He says trial and er­ror led him to this ap­proach, which he adds has helped him lose more than 60 pounds, and keep it off, and put him, at 42, in the best shape of his life.

Among the cor­ner­stone be­liefs of the diet? Fat is our friend, and our mass-pro­duced food sup­ply is rife with tox­ins and molds that cause in­flam­ma­tion and dis­ease.

A cup of Bul­let­proof Cof­fee is a health­ful break­fast that, he says, “turns off hunger and food crav­ings … and helps put your body in a fat­burn­ing mode for the rest of the day.”

Amanda Allen, the 2013 and 2014 CrossFit Games cham­pion in the 40-44 age group, at­tributes her suc­cess in part to Bul­let­proof Cof­fee. And the Pi­o­neer Woman, Ree Drum­mond, the Food Net­work star and cook­book au­thor, re­cently ex­tolled its virtues to her mas­sive on­line fol­low­ing: “Some peo­ple say it’s healthy. Oth­ers say it’s a fad. Some peo­ple say it will give you an en­ergy boost like no other. Oth­ers say this is placebo. Me? I just say it’s mag­i­cal.”

You might be won­der­ing: Uh, what’s so health­ful about drop­ping but­ter in your cof­fee?

“Health benefits? Drink­ing but­ter? You have to be kid­ding,” said Mar­ion Nestle, a pro­fes­sor of food stud­ies and public health at New York Uni­ver­sity and one of the coun­try’s fore­most au­thor­i­ties on the Amer­i­can diet.

In­flu­en­tial tech site Giz­modo called it a “scheme” to sell more cof­fee beans. “Alarm bells should go off any time some­one claims that you should buy their ex­pen­sive prod­ucts for your diet,” added the pop cul­ture web­site Vox.

But the de­bate over Bul­let­proof Cof­fee un­der­scores just how di­vided we are over nu­tri­tion, weight loss and obe­sity — and our un­quench­able de­sire for a quick, easy fix. Health ex­pert af­ter health ex­pert en­cour­ages the coun­try to fol­low well-worn ad­vice to ditch the junk food and sugar, go easy on the red meat and dou­ble up on veggies. Yet it seems that each week, we clamor over a new diet promis­ing un­be­liev­able weight loss if we only give up this or eat more of that.

And what would any trend be with­out a celebrity stamp of ap­proval?

Ac­tor Bran­don Routh (“Su­per­man Re­turns”), who is cur­rently shoot­ing “The Flash” and “Ar­row,” says he’s been in­tro­duc­ing the casts and crews to the Bul­let­proof life­style. The cof­fee has helped him take his fit­ness to the next level, he said. “It has given me so much more en­ergy and fo­cus.”

Late-night host Jimmy Fal­lon and actress Shai­lene Wood­ley (“In­sur­gent,” “The Fault in Our Stars”) re­cent bonded over a mug­ful: “It will change your life,” she said, adding that it’s good for curb­ing one’s ap­petite and start­ing the day with a health­ful source of fat. “It’s so good,” Fal­lon added, and then joked that it made him gain 55 pounds.

Punch­lines aside, Asprey and oth­ers like him be­lieve that the na­tion is on the verge of drop­ping the “fat is bad” mantra and em­brac­ing fat in all its suc­cu­lent glory.

Asprey said Bul­let­proof Cof­fee is the re­sult of an ex­pe­ri­ence he had while hik­ing in Ti­bet when it was mi­nus 10 de­grees. Ex­hausted, he was served a cup of yak but­ter tea. He said he felt im­me­di­ately re­ju­ve­nated. The bio­hacker in him went to work.

If all goes well, Asprey says, he’d like to ex­pand Bul­let­proof cafes na­tion­wide.

One per­son you might not see at the Santa Mon­ica cafe, how­ever, is Mayor Kevin McKe­own. Asked to com­ment on how the Bul­let­proof Cof­fee cafe might be re­ceived, he de­clined, say­ing, “I’m sorry, but this is very, very far from my ar­eas of ex­per­tise. I like my cof­fee black and industrial strength.”

Pho­to­graphs by Al Seib Los An­ge­les Times

BUL­LET­PROOF COF­FEE’S Dave Asprey, top, sa­vors his sig­na­ture drink at his soon-to-be-opened cafe in Santa Mon­ica. The drink, above, fea­tures or­ganic cof­fee with a dab of but­ter.

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