Posted on

How to Buy fatCoffee as Cheaply as Possible

As we have begun to expand the options for purchasing fatCoffee on our website, as well as the other places you can buy it, I’m reminded of some of the earliest feedback we received when we first started selling fatCoffee.

Love it! But it’s expensive!

I started NinjaGoat with one core mission: to use the highest quality ingredients possible to make the best cup of butter coffee anywhere, anytime.

fatCoffee is the only butter coffee mix made with 100% grass-fed butter. Everyone else – every single similar product out there – uses butter from cows that are raised, at least part of the time, on grains. And some add other weird stuff, like highly branched cyclic dextrin.

We don’t. Our butter comes from cows that are raised exclusively on grass and, in the winter time, hay. Nothing else. Ever.

Which means our butter is 3-6x as expensive as what normally passes for “grass-fed” butter.

Still, I’m sensitive to the fact that choosing to be Paleo, Primal or Keto often means you’ve got to pay extra special attention to your food budget, because high-quality foods (those which are highly nutritious, minimally-processed, fresh, local, etc.) aren’t always the least expensive.

With that in mind, here’s our guide on how to buy fatCoffee as cheaply as possible.

  • We offer discounts if you get regular shipments: just have fatCoffee packets auto-shipped to you every 2, 4 or 6 weeks, and you’ll save up to 10% on each box.
    • Buy at least $50 worth of fatCoffee on our site, and you’ll get Free Shipping.
  • If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, get fatCoffee via Subscribe & Save: you’ll save at least $1 on every 8-pack, and $3 per pack if you’re getting 5 or more Subscribe & Save items each month. (Plus Prime customers get free 2-day shipping.)
  • Want to save about 20%? Buy an Annual Subscription – pay once, and get fatCoffee every month for a year (you get free shipping all year, too.)

Still too complex? Here’s a nifty table you can use to find the cheapest option that makes the most sense for you:

8 Pack, Once
8 servings
Just $3 S&H
8 pack, Auto Ship
8 servings
Just $3 S&H
Buy 3, get Free Shipping
Subscribe & Save (Amazon)
from $17
8 servings, as often as you want
Free Shipping (for Amazon Prime members)
Annual Subscription
from $395/yr
16 - 32 servings, every month
Free Shipping
Extras every month (like Ninja Goat Ludicrious Blend Coffee, Paleo treats, new product samples and more)
Guaranteed delivery every month (fatCoffee routinely sells out.)
Posted on

What’s a Vertical Form Fill and Seal Machine, and What’s it For?

If you want to put your food product into a single-serving pouch which is customized with your brand, nutritional information, serving suggestions, etc., and you want to do this in high-quantities (3000-20,000 servings per day) and at high speeds (60-100 servings per minute), then a vertical form fill and seal machine might be right for you.

What is a Vertical Form Fill and Seal Machine?

As the name would imply, a Vertical Form Fill and Seal machine does three things, in a specific way:

  • It forms packages or pouches out of a flexible feedstock – usually a film mounted on a roll
  • It fills those pouches with a material or product
  • It seals them, usually air-tight
  • It is arranged vertically, so that the functions listed above occur from top to bottom

Generally speaking, VFFS machines are separated into two general categories:

  • Those that fill packages with liquids or pastes
  • Those that fill packages with powders or other dry ingredients

The distinction is important because the machines are not interchangeable. A paste/liquid-filling machine will use a piston pump (powered either electrically or pneumatically, with an air compressor). A powder filling machine will generally rely on gravity to do the work of dropping ingredients into the pouches.

Costs vary widely. You can buy a Chinese-made machine for less than $3000, including the cost of shipping it to the US. You can also spend upwards of $50,000 or more for an American-made machine. One is not necessarily better or worse – for a Chinese-(or Indian-, or Pakistani-) made machine, you are trading cost for flexibility and… ease of use. Also, as is the case with going overseas for a product or service, you are going to need to know exactly what you want the machine to do, and how it should do it, if you expect to get something that works for you “out of the box.” An American manufacturer will likely be able to consult extensively with you, and customize their machine to do exactly what you want, at high-speed, with high-precision, rather flawlessly.

Often, and especially for small food makers who are just beginning to move into packaging automation, this isn’t really a choice you get to make. Usually the choice is, “a $3000 foreign-made machine, or keep doing it manually for a couple more years.”

Posted on

Tis the Season for Seasonal Flavors

One of the nice things about controlling your own production process – as opposed to working with a third party copacker – is that it’s relatively easy for us to try new things. Of course, we need to tread carefully, but small changes are pretty simple.

Plus, I get bored easily, and I like mixing and matching new flavors to see what I can come up with.

We have four new flavors of fatCoffee now – bringing us to a total of seven, which is fairly amazing considering that we really only started offering fatCoffee for sale to the public less than two years ago. No other butter coffee product even comes close – not in terms of quality ingredients (no “highly branched cyclic dextrin” in our products), or variety of flavors.

Now available, for a limited time (perhaps):

Pumpkin Spice fatCoffeefatCoffee Pumpkin Spice
Apparently, this is a seasonal flavor. As in, “you know, Ben, it’s supposed to go away at some point in the year.” What do I know? I like it as much in June as I do in October, but the truth is: if it doesn’t go away for a while, it just isn’t special when it comes back.


fatCoffee Mocha OrangefatCoffee Mocha Orange
Rich and fragrant, with a hint of organic cold-pressed orange oil. As with any of our flavors, we use only natural ingredients. Look on your food package labels for the words “natural flavorings”, and shudder at the fact that that can mean almost anything.

This one’s inspired by the Terry Chocolate Orange – I buy a bunch of these every year to give around the holidays. Like the Terry’s Chocolate Orange, remember to “whack, and unwrap” your fatCoffee packets. Seriously, contents may separate, so mash it up!

fatCoffee Mocha MintfatCoffee Mocha Mint
A chocolate peppermint latte, with a tiny bit of organic essential peppermint leaf oil for a snappy, crisp and wintery beverage to start your day. Or finish it.

I love this in the late morning once I’m at the office – particularly after trudging through the bracing late-fall winds on the 2-mile walk in. It’s the perfect way to bring a tiny little bit of winter inside.


And (shhhh….) fatCoffee Chocolate Pine
A friend of ours sent a link to a Milk Chocolate Bar with Pine Oil from Switzerland, which we promptly ordered a 1/2 dozen of. They were delicious, ever-so-slightly reminiscent of the Redwoods forests of Northern California – and impossible to resist imitating. Friends who’ve tried this have called it “familiar”, and “enticing” – and we’re excited to share it with you. Soon!

But not yet! Only Premium Subscribers will get a chance to taste it in our December boxes. Sign up today!

We are selling out of fatCoffee pretty regularly, but if you place your order here, you’ll always be first in line when we restock, which we are doing about every two weeks now.

Posted on

What is Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin and Why the Heck Would You Put it In Your Coffee?

A yellow plastic tub of butter substitute labeled You'd Think it Was Butter.

When I was first formulating the original mixture of fatCoffee, I ran headlong into a pretty thorny problem: how could I make sure you get the experience out fatCoffee that I really want to provide? It’s no small challange; what works on a small scale in your kitchen at home changes completely when you start to make hundreds or thousands of servings, and it wasn’t long before I started to get an appreciation for the complexity involved.

In a nutshell, here’s the biggest challenge with making fatCoffee a portable, easy-to-use way to make butter coffee: things separate.

And it’s all coconut oil’s fault.

Right around room temperature (70-80 degrees Faranheit), coconut oil is solid. Just above, it turns into a clear liquid (particularly the very high-quality, cold-pressed coconut oil I use). In the colder months, this isn’t really a problem – from the kitchen where I make fatCoffee all the way to the UPS truck that brings it to your house, temperatures are cold enough that the coconut oil remains fairly solid.

But summer is a different story.

Mind you, sealed in their airtight, impact-proof, nearly-indestructible packets, fatCoffee’s ingredients are shelf-stable and will stay delicious and fresh for up to a year.

But the powdered goats’ milk, vanilla bean and cocoa powder (the dry ingredients), don’t dissolve until they’re mixed into your coffee or tea. Inside the packets, there’s no water – that’s why everything stays fresh and stable – but it also means that the dry ingredients can settle out to the bottom of the packet whenever that coconut oil gets soft.

And there’s a simple solution to this problem: mash it up, folks! Just squeeze and mash that packet around before you open it. Don’t worry: it won’t break open (you’d need to stomp on it hard before that seal will break. Trust me, I’ve tried.)

And, as you might expect in these modern times, there’s another “solution”: Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin.

Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin is, among other things, a powder. It’s particularly good at encapsulating oils, and so it’s used to make such magnificent things such as powdered butter.

Powdered. Butter.

If that isn’t a tragedy in the making, I don’t know what is.

If you have something oily, and you want to make it powdery, you’d add this ingredient. If I were to add it to fatCoffee, instead of a liquid or a paste, fatCoffee would be a sort of crumbly, squishy, clumpy powder. Kind of like what you want butter and flour to be like when you’re making a pie crust. (Not a Paleo pie crust, of course.)

But what IS IT, exactly? Well, let’s hit the Wikipedia and see:

Highly branched cyclic dextrin is a dextrin produced from enzymatic breaking of the amylopectin in clusters and using branching enzyme to form large cyclic chains. (Emphasis added.)

That’s pretty clear, right?

Dig a little deeper, and the keyword there is amylopectin. Along with amylose, this is one of the two components of  starch.

Food starch. Which is made of up of glucose, a type of sugar. Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin is a form of modified food starch.

Now generally speaking, I don’t have anything against chemistry. And I don’t particularly have an issue with people trying to find the best, healthiest, most flexible uses for all kinds of food. But if you’re going to use modified food starch in your butter coffee, why wouldn’t you just call it “modified food starch?”

Because “Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin” sounds cooler? More modern? More…. sciencey?

Or maybe because “modified food starch” shares the same genesis as Maltodextrin, a:

…white hygroscopic spray-dried powder… that is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose… commonly used for the production of soft drinks and candy. It can also be found as an ingredient in a variety of other processed foods. (Emphasis added).

High Branched Cylic Dextrin is commonly sold as a weight gain supplement for body builders, with names like “Super Carb” and “Sports Fuel”, and is touted as a “next generation simple carbohydrate.”

So, sugar. In your butter coffee. In the form of an ingredient which is “absorbed as rapidly as glucose.”

If you’re Keto, Paleo, HFLC or otherwise trying to just eliminate processed sugars from your diet, this is taking you in absolutely the wrong direction. And because fatCoffee is supposed to be functional and supportive (and not just delicious and convenient), it’s an ingredient that we will never, ever use.

So… What’s in your butter coffee?

Ready to try fatCoffee?

Just a Taste $10
4 packs
Pumpkin Spice
Just $2.50 S&H
Full Release $20
8 packs
Pumpkin Spice
Just $2.50 S&H
Posted on

Bulletproof InstaMix vs. fatCoffee

In just the last few weeks, Bulletproof has released an “on the go” way to make “butter coffee” instantly. Given the similarity in purported benefits of this new product, dubbed “InstaMix”, I thought it’d be a good idea to try it out, and offer a comparison.

I’m hoping to offer as objective and impartial a comparison as possible, though obviously I have a horse in this race. Bit given the attention that Dave Asprey has brought to butter coffee over the past few years, it seemed inevitable that he would launch a product similar to fatCoffee eventually, and I hope that this comparison is a useful one.

First, to break down some of the basic differences:

InstaMix vs fatCoffee

 Bulletproof InstaMix Ninja Goat fatCoffee
Source of FatsBulletproof Brain Octane Oil (distilled MCT oil)100% Grass-fed & Organic Butter
Organic Coconut Oil
MCT oil
Serving Size0.65oz (18mL)1.0oz (30mL)
Cost14 servings for $29.95
+ $6.95 S/H
8 servings for $20
+ $2.50 S/H
Cost/Serving$2.53 - $2.63$2.33 - $3.13
Cost/Oz$3.89/oz - $4.05/oz$2.33/oz - $3.13/oz
Pumpkin Spice
Taste ProfileLike powdered Coffeemate Like a foamy, rich vanilla or mocha latte
PortabilityContains butter, but doesn't say if it needs to be refrigerated. Encapsulated in Dextrin, may help with shelf life.Ghee is completely and naturally shelf-stable. fatCoffee requires no refrigeration, and stays fresh for at least a year.
Full IngredientsCaprylic Acid Triglycerides (Brain Octane Oil), Grass-fed Butter, Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin, Oleic Fatty Acid (from Olive Oil), Sorbitol, Vitamin E TPGS.100% Grass-Fed Organic Ghee, Organic Coconut Oil, MCT Oil, Organic Powdered Goats Milk, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Ground Powdered Vanilla Bean

Though the price difference is a bit obscured by the serving sizes, what surprised me most was the fact that InstaMix is almost 2x as expensive per ounce than fatCoffee. Considering the main ingredient is refined MCT oil, I’m not sure what justifies that cost difference. 100% grass-fed butter is our most expensive, and hardest to find, ingredient: MCT oil is plentiful, manufactured by a dozen different companies, and never subject to any supply shortage.

Each serving of InstaMix contains about 1/2 as much mix as a serving of fatCoffee. That comes through in the flavor as well; when mixed with 8oz of coffee, InstaMix has about the same effect on the consistency and flavor of the coffee as a couple of teaspoons of Coffeemate powdered creamer. Calorie and fat content are similarly lopsided.

InstaMix’s ingredients include “grass-fed butter”, though I’ve found that the definition of “grass-fed” is far from standardized, and open to wide interpretation. The ghee in fatCoffee is from butter made from milk from cows that are only ever fed grass, hay, and hayalge. No grains, ever.

Finally, because InstaMix lists “grass-fed butter” as one of its ingredients, I’m uncertain how it can be shelf-stable and travel-ready (though the Bulletproof website claims that it is.) The reason is simple: butter spoils if it’s not either refrigerated, or treated with some type of preservative. I think it’s possible that the “highly branched cyclic dextrin” might act as a preservative, but it also increases the carb count. (Dextrin is a carbohydrate. It can come from a variety of sources, including corn.) Update 7/2/2016: A bit more details on Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin here.

Have you tried both InstaMix and fatCoffee? How do you think the two compare?

Ready to try fatCoffee?

Just a Taste $10
4 packs
Pumpkin Spice
Just $2.50 S&H
Full Release $20
8 packs
Pumpkin Spice
Just $2.50 S&H
Posted on

A short story about coconuts, in 73 parts

Coconut gets a lot of attention – it’s good for you, it’s bad for you, it cures everything, no one knows anything about what it really does… pretty much the full spectrum of opinion.

I thought it would be useful to try and pull as much of the information together in one place as I could find, for anyone who’s interested in understanding what coconut oil really does, and doesn’t do – and what we know, and don’t know, about it.

Dr. Evil Isn't Sure about Coconut OilTL;DR: Coconut isn’t evil, (as long as you stay away from the chemically altered stuff) but it’s not magic instant-happy powder either.

From drinking coconut milk or water, to baking with coconut flour, to eating, drinking and “pulling” coconut oil, there are a lot of stories about the benefits, drawbacks, and unknowns about coconut products.

For the skeptical among you, it’s reasonable to assume that I have a reason to want to believe that coconut oil is some sort of miracle substance. So let’s start off with a simple truth, one which I’ll repeat throughout this site: there are no panaceas. No single food, activity, lifestyle or medicine is going to solve every single problem with our modern diet.

But there are 63 million tonnes of coconut harvested (as of 2013) every year – and someone is consuming all of it. And if you look at where coconut is traditionally consumed as a dietary staple ingredient, you see rather low levels of cardiovascular disease (until those cultures switch from ghee and coconut oil as their primary sources of fat, to corn, sunflower and safflower oils. That’s typically when obesity and heart disease start to appear in significant numbers.) So something is afoot, even if it’s as simple as “coconut isn’t the big, bad, saturated-fat monster it’s been made out to be.”

That’s a mighty big nut

A diagram of a coconut palm tree and it’s fruit, the coconut.

First, let’s start with what a coconut isn’t: it is not, botanically, a nut. Coconut is a drupe, or stone fruit, the defining characteristic of which is an outer, fleshy portion (b) surrounding the actual seed of the fruit (c). In the case of coconuts, this fleshy layer (the white stuff) is usually surrounded with an outer, fibrous husk (a). When younger, the flesh is tender, and almost the consistency of a very thick gelatin. As the coconut matures, the outer husk and flesh harden, the amount of water inside decreases, and the hard, white flesh can be used to produce oil, flour, and milk.

Coconut is basically an entirely self-contained bread-baking unit. Use coconut water, oil, milk and flour, and some charcoal from the husk; find yourself an egg (optionally) and make an entirely self-baking coconut-based meal. If MacGyver were a plant, he’d be a coconut.

Versatile, for sure. What about it’s utility as a source of nutrition? In other words:

What about me?

South Pacific Islanders have been shown to have remarkably low levels of cardiovascular disease, despite diets rich in saturated fats.

Particularly in tropical regions from the Philippines to Mexico, Malaysia, Polynesia and Indonesia, coconut is a major food stock sometimes accounting for up to 80% of fat intake. What does the scientific community think of it as a food source?

Coconut Oil’s Effects on Alzheimer’s and Brain Function

Bruce Fife, certified nutritionist and naturopathic physician, author of more than 20 books including The Coconut Oil Miracle, and the Director of the Coconut Research Centre says, “Coconut oil is the healthiest oil on earth.” He goes on to state a plethora of health benefits of it. While there is some research to support each of his claims, the evidence is far from certain. While the Alzheimer’s Association acknowledges anecdotal support for the effectiveness of coconut oil, they note that there has “never been any clinical testing of coconut oil for Alzheimer’s.

Which is not to say that no one is trying to figure it out:

  • Coconut oil appears to help protect neurons against degeneration, when tested in vitro (in a petri dish, basically.) To vastly oversimplify their findings: coconut oil might, by being converted into ketones, provide an alternative energy source for the brain. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, the brain begins to lose the ability to use glucose as an energy source, but maintains its ability to use ketone bodies to function. So intuitively, this makes some sense: starved for one kind of fuel, the brain makes use of another source that it is in increased supply.
  • Researchers in Florida and Canada are looking into how coconut oil might help to alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and they are conducting their studies in actual patients, rather than using cell cultures in a dish. This is important, because we want to know what the demonstrable effects of a treatment are, not just the biochemical reactions that are occurring (though those are important, too.)


Antibacterial Properties of Coconut Oil

Who has antibacterial properties? Lauric acid? Who? Coconuts.

There are a number of studies looking at the ability of various individual components of coconut oil, specifically lauric acid, to interfere with bacterial activity.

  • Lauric acid appears to have anti-microbial effects. Again, this is an in vitro study: researchers put bacteria in a dish, and applied different concentrations of virgin coconut oil as well as its individual components, and looked at what happened to the bacterium. Spoiler alert: most of the bacteria died.
  • The same effect has been confirmed when researchers tested monolaurin (which is made from lauric acid, which is highly concentrated in coconut oil), in some cases by interfering with bacterium’s signaling abilities.
  • In might also have anti-fungal properties, and appears in this study to be as effective as flucanazole (a widely used anti-fungal medication) in combating various species of Candida.


Coconut Oil and Blood Glucose

It appears that medium-chain saturated fatty acids (SFAs, of which coconut has a high concentration) are helpful in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. One study found an increased insulin response following a meal high in medium chain SFAs produced “a tendency toward higher insulin response” in patients with Type-2 Diabetes and their relatives (of Type-2 diabetes, not the people who had it.)


Cardiovascular Health and Coconut Oil

What about cardiovascular health in particular? Most of the arguments against using coconut oil focus on it’s saturated fat content, and are based on the now-discredited fat myth. If you’re accustomed to or exploring a Primal/Paleo/Ketogenic diet, you’re comfortable with the idea of consuming a fairly large amount of fat (and protein, and veggies, ‘natch.) But it’s not necessarily well-known (yet) that the now-well-trodden idea that “fat makes you fat” has been, more or less thoroughly, discredited.

Alternatively, some commentators have focused on the negative effects of trans-fats in coconut oil. The problem there is that the proportion of naturally-occurring trans fats in coconut oil is minuscule, if detectable at all; only when coconut oil is hydrogenated do trans fats appear in significant proportions.

  • Coconut milk seems to have a positive effect on blood lipid profiles, raising HDL and lower LDL.
  • MCT Oil (which is usually derived from coconut oil, but is comprised entirely of the Medium Chain Triglycerides, hence it’s name) seems to have beneficial effects on arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) due to aging – at least in rats.
  • “Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD (coronary heart disease), stroke, or CVD (cardiovascular disease).”


Stress Relief

I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet that coconuts obtain some of their stress-relieving qualities as a result of having evolved in some of the most mellow places on earth.

Coconut oil could have antistress and antioxidant properties as well, at least in mice. (For reasons of biology and evolutionary similarity, mice are good proxies for many human biological responses. Plus, humans generally don’t like it when you intentionally injure them in order to see if coconut oil makes them feel better. Neither do the mice, I imagine.) From that study:

“Virgin coconut oil (VCO) has been consumed worldwide for various health-related reasons and some of its benefits have been scientifically evaluated… Furthermore, mice treated with VCO were found to exhibit higher levels of brain antioxidants, lower levels of brain 5-hydroxytryptamine [serotonin] and reduced weight of the adrenal glands.”


Weight Loss and Metabolic Profile of Coconut Oil

Weight management, and the relationship of dietary fat to those efforts, is obviously a complex subject. MCT oil, which is derived from coconut oil (and sometimes palm kernel oil) is generally understood to be thermogenic: as a result, when added to a diet where other factors are kept constant, the result is generally some degree of weight loss. An outstanding summation of what is known about coconut oil, including the effects on weight as a result of incorporating it into your diet, is covered on Dr. Weil’s website.

Generally, the ability of any food to aid in weight loss or maintenance is going to come down to two things: how does it get digested, and does it satisfy you for a significant period of time. Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides, and “Some studies have shown that MCTs can help in the process of excess calorie burning, thus weight loss.”


Now We’re Cooking with Gas

A traditional method of grinding raw coconut in preparation for extracting the oil through the “wet process” method.

Much has been made of the fact that oils consumed in their “natural” state may or may not behave the same once they are heated, and there’s certainly plenty of evidence that oils break down and start turning rancid at high temperatures. So, two things worth considering:

  • Manufacturing process: “Virgin” coconut oil is generally made in one of two ways: a “dry” method involves drying the coconut meat in a kiln, oven or in the sun and then pressing the meat until the oil is extracted. Alternatively, the “wet” method involves pressing coconuts before they are dried, then using a centrifuge to mechanically separate coconut oil from the water. But there’s no industry-standard definition for “virgin” or “extra virgin” coconut oil (as there is for olive oil), so methods and labels vary. But generally, a “virgin” coconut oil is one where the coconut has not been chemically refined.
  • Heating during cooking: Once you’ve got coconut oil in hand, what you do with it in the kitchen will have a significant effect on how much of its original nutritive value remains. Coconut oil has a high smoke point (about 350˚F). Up until that point, the oil retains most of its original Omega-3-to-omega-6 ratios, and doesn’t break down.

If you’re going to go through the expense and trouble of obtaining a high quality, wet-milled coconut oil, you’ll probably want to enjoy the full benefits of that by not heating it past its smoking point.


More Reading

The Ultimate Guide to the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil