Butter and Coffee

In the Buttermind experiment influenced them to start adding butter to their coffee. In this excerpt, they say that their cholesterol went down 25 points during the period they drank it (their lives changed in many other ways at the same time). At the end they say:

Later, we would learn that Ethiopian warriors had drunk buttered coffee to energize before battle as far back as 600 CE. But that was after we had stopped regularly drinking it. When we transitioned out of the Marine Corps and our days became less frenetic, it just didn’t seem as necessary.

The mention of Ethiopian warriors reminds me of how, after discovering that pork fat (from pork belly) improves my sleep, I learned that Mao Tse-Tung praised a certain pork-belly dish (红烧肉), calling it “brain food”. I don’t drink coffee but I have tried tea with butter. It tasted good, but I didn’t like the residue it left on the tea cup. Cream doesn’t leave a residue. I haven’t noticed that butter gives me energy. The benefits I believe in are better brain function and better sleep. Maybe more calmness.

12 Replies to “Butter and Coffee”

  1. This is slightly tangential but I ate a couple tablespoons of butter right from the stick and a couple days later developed a couple pimples. I suspect it was from the butter but am not 100% positive. I have read reports about dairy causing acne.

    Seth: yes, dairy definitely causes acne in some cases. the effect might go away with more exposure to butter, it’s hard to say.

  2. Biohacker Dave Asprey is a proponent of butter (grass fed) with coffee for its purported cognitive benefits. Opinions seem to be split between those having great results, and those who think it is “gross” (e.g., Seth’s comment about residue).

  3. Add me to the list of people you convinced to start drinking buttered coffee. Might be noticing some effects, though I’ll report back after a few weeks.

    As an aside, I really liked your posts on continuous graphical feedback a while back, and I’m thinking about implementing a system like that for myself. So I’d really like to know:
    – Are you still using your system?
    – If so, how effective is it now compared to back when you wrote those posts?

    Seth: I am still using my system, yes. I now use a somewhat better system, an improved version. I couldn’t live without it. It is the same effectiveness now as when I wrote those posts. If you are interested in trying it, please contact me and identify yourself as the author of this comment.

  4. Why butter and not cream?
    I drop about 1/3 pint of heavy cream (from allegedly happy cows) in my coffee. It seems to me that cream is just a superset of butter and it pours more easily than butter.

    Seth: Supposedly butter is made from cream (and only cream), so cream = butter. In practice, it is not so simple. What is sold as “cream” can contain many things and be treated in many ways after the processing point where some cream is turned into butter and some isn’t. You make a good point, I should try substituting cream for butter and see what happens.

  5. First comes milk, then comes cream, then comes butter. Butter is basically the purest form of milk fat – “almost” all the proteins and sugars have been removed, or separated out – when it comes to dairy, it’s all about the separation. Butter by volume has twice the amount of fat as cream, and consequently, twice the amount of calories.

    I prefer the taste of cream in my coffee, so I just eat 2+ tablespoons of butter on a home made coconut bar with my morning coffee.

    I also eat chocolate butter, which I make, with my afternoon coffee and cream.


  6. Seth, have you seen large differences in effects between animal fat and butter? I drink coffee with coconut oil and am going to experiment with adding either ghee or tallow (yuk I know) for some added fat in the mornings and would like to know which is better or if the differences are negligible. I’m dairy free because of acne and anxiety over raising LDL cholesterol, that is why I’m thinking about incorporating the grass fed tallow.

    Seth: Yes, I have seen large differences. My arithmetic speed got faster when I switched from pork fat to butter.

  7. Seth: That’s great to hear. I probably can’t use your system (I’m on Linux, and I don’t know R), but I just coded up something that does approximately what you described. What were the improvements you added?

    Seth: A friend and I are making an app that we plan to sell, so I am not anxious to publicize the improvements.

  8. Is there any advantage for using ghee instead of butter, holding the quality of the cows constant?

    Seth: I don’t know. I should try ghee in place of regular butter.

  9. Ghee is the last step in the dairy separation chain and is the purest form of milk fat I know of – hard to think of what you could possibly do and what you would be removing once you get to ghee. You can make your own if you have the time and patience. It’s also known as drawn butter in the restaurant biz – it’s what you get with lobster (should get anyway) – a quality kitchen will have a container of it sitting on the back of the griddle that is used for frying instead of vegetable oil.


  10. @ Charlie – you could go one step further in the separation chain, and centrifuge the ghee to separate the short and long chain fats. This is what Weston Price did to create his “high vitamin butter oil”, and this is what Green Pastures does (following his procedure) to make their butter oil.

    However, all of this is a lot of work, and I am quite happy to just eat the butter!

  11. @ Paul N – You are correct…and I’ve even taken Green Pastures butter oil – however, because of my already high volume of butter consumption, I’m not sure if it has had any effect. There are some that believe that it helps with tooth/oral health, but so does xylitol, which I also consume, and so does fax seed oil, which I used to consume, and so does reducing your consumption of carbohydrates, especially grains, sugars and fruit, which I did some years ago, so consequently I’m not sure which one, or combination, has actually improved my tooth/oral health…because, it has improved, markedly.

    I think I should buy stock in Kerrygold…


  12. Thanks Seth. Another question I have, were the gains in mental speed only experienced within a timeframe after eating the butter, or did they carry over throughout the day or week regardless of when you consumed the butter? Did you vary the times that you did your arithmetic tests? Would it be beneficial to eat it before a long day of mental work or is it just important to incorporate it into your diet at any time?

    Seth: The effects of butter didn’t last long — maybe they lasted a day. I took the arithmetic tests at many different ties of day. I think it is a good idea, based on my results, to eat butter daily. My experience with flaxseed oil suggests it will have more than one benefit.

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