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.
fatCoffee 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 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 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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:
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?
Whether you’ve been putting butter in your coffee for years, or you’re just hearing about it, chances are that you’ve come across at least some of these questions. While I’ve obviously got an interest in the answer, it’s still a great idea to critically examine as many viewpoints as possible, so that you can draw your own conclusions.
1) What’s this new fad about?
It’s actually not very new. As Dr. Weil explains: “adding butter to hot drinks is a longstanding tradition in many parts of the world. Mixing spiced butter into coffee is common in Ethiopia, for example. Similarly, hot tea with yak butter…”
It’s tempting to think that what we call “fat” is basically all the same thing. Again, start with some basic definitions, paying careful attention to the differences between monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids and saturated fats. And keep an open mind, because much of what you may think you know about these (“they’re all bad”; “avoid fat entirely”; etc.) deserves a much closer look.
Because of what we’ve chosen to make fatCoffee from, it bears taking a moment to learn a bit about saturated fat, which many people assume is another phrase for “pure, concentrated evil.” It’s not. Saturated fat is an essential dietary element, as it comprises about 1/2 of our cell membranes. And “saturated animal fats, like butter or fatty organ meats, contain huge amounts of essential fat-soluble vitamins (K2, A, D, among others).” (Read more…)
4) Great, so butter is awesome. Any butter, though, right?
If only it were that simple! There are an abundance of differences between butter from grass-fed cows and butter from cows which eat grains. Your best bet for obtaining excellent, high-quality butter is your local farmer’s market. fatCoffee® is made with ghee that comes from 100% grass-fed cows, pastured in Lancaster County, PA (about 20 miles from where we make it.)
5) Why would I actually put butter in my coffee? It tastes fine on this piece of toast.
One of the essential reasons I began looking for an alternative to butter was that I wanted to make butter coffee when I traveled. And although some folks don’t mind packing a Nutribullet and a stick of butter with them, I found that TSA officials tend to be suspicious of big oily stains seeping through your carry-on luggage.
Plus, butter needs to be refrigerated, and do you really want rancid, spoiled butter in your coffee? Of course not.
Ghee, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be refrigerated. And the reason is simple: ghee is simply butter, with the water and milk solids taken out. Take a pound of butter, put it in a pot over medium heat for about 15 minutes, then strain the resulting goodness through a bit of cheesecloth. What comes out on the other side is ghee.
7) How does this actually taste?
Well, if you ask me, it tastes amazing. But it would, right? It’s butter, and most people don’t complain that “this food is just too buttery. I mean, it’s just so succulent and mouth watering and satisfying, I can’t stand it.”
But truth be told, there’s definitely a trick to it: you need to mix it up good. Because butter floating on top of coffee tastes like… well, a mouthful of butter, followed by a cup of coffee.
When you mix it up, the fat in the butter emulsifies into the coffee, and the result is a very creamy, smooth, latte-like beverage.
Think of it this way: on a scale of 1-10, where “1” is the limp, pasty complexion of coffee with skim milk, and 10 is the rich, creamy succulence of coffee with heavy cream, butter ranks around 12.
Satiating, certainly. And some people do find that they’ll skip breakfast when they have butter coffee, but we don’t recommend it. (Besides, why would you skip bacon?) Many people who drink butter coffee find that it helps them stay focused and energizedthrough the morning.
But I tend to view butter coffee in general, and fatCoffee in particular, as a supplement to a breakfast that is high in the nutrients which butter and coconut oil aren’t. (Which are plenty, and important.)
Unexpected? Think about what you might put in your coffee today: milk, creamer, or half-and-half. Butter (and ghee) is just way further up the so-creamy-it-tastes-like-heaven curve.
Not all Butter is Created Equal
You can’t just slap a pat of any old butter in your coffee, though, and expect decent things to happen. Because butter coffee is about more than just the taste of churned cream or ghee, it’s about getting the right kinds of fats into your body.
Milk from grass-fed cows makes all the difference, both in the taste and color of the butter, and in the composition of the fats inside.
Not all “Pastured Butter” is actually 100% grass-fed
If you’re trying to maximize the benefits of putting grass-fed butter in your coffee (or anywhere in your diet), it makes sense to look for butter that comes from cows which are always 100% pastured and grass-fed. Unfortunately, for one of the most popular grass-fed options, this isn’t the case. If the cows’ feed is being “supplemented”, it needs to be supplemented with hay, alfalfa, or other grasses that can be stored for winter feed.
We use ghee made from 100% pasture-raised and grass-fed butter, which comes from cows raised in Lancaster County, PA.
Ghee or Butter?
Sometimes people ask why we use ghee instead of butter. The answer is simple: ghee doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and that’s why fatCoffee packets can go anywhere with you, and be ready anytime you want to make butter coffee.
Ghee is essentially clarified butter. When you slowly and gently heat butter, the milk solids settle to the bottom, and the water evaporates. What’s left is ghee, which has a slightly sweeter, nuttier taste profile. It’s also completely shelf-stable, so again – no refrigeration required.
Substitutes are no substitute
We mix only the highest quality organic coconut oil and MCT oil, along with whole powdered goat milk from pastured goats, in with our ghee. As a result, fatCoffee ain’t cheap. But we haven’t ever really looked for cheaper alternatives, because the quality of the ingredients is 100% of the reason why we make fatCoffee – the best fats, for the best you.