Milk, cream or butter with that?

The unlikely dairy product that may be making it's way to your coffee cup.

Butter may be more Paula Deen than Jeremy Bearman, but we are firm believers that it has its place in the world (in flaky croissants and for dunking succulent lobster, for starters). Its appearance in coffee cups, however, has given us pause. The practice is derived from the ancient Tibetan ritual of making Yak tea, a recipe of black tea, butter, and salt, that's meant to provide caloric energy and warmth at high altitudes, and has been gaining attention as of late.

Google 'coffee with butter' and you’ll find countless articles on the man leading the charge; David Asprey, a tech entrepreneur, says he has re-engineered his Bulletproof-branded Upgraded Coffeeto be free of mycotoxins, a fungus that can be formed from processing coffee beans. His recommended elixir—made with the Upgraded Coffee, two tablespoons of grass-fed unsalted butter, and up to two tablespoons of MCT oil, a fat found in coconut and palm oil—is thought to promote energy, act as a hunger suppressant, and provide mental clarity. “Think of a Toyota Prius running on gas and electricity,” he says of how people feel when partaking in the regimen.

Making waves among mainstream media outlets and health-focused communities, Asprey’s practice clearly has an audience, which includes chef Seamus Mullen, owner of Tertulia in NYC's west village. A proponent of the concept of food as medicine (Mullen manages his own rheumatoid arthritis with healthy eating), the chef makes his daily concoction with Meadow Butter from Kriemhild Dairy and Asprey’s Bulletproof-branded MCT oil. “The taste definitely takes a little getting used to, but I love it,” he says. “It's part of my morning ritual. I have two cups every day. I used to drink way more coffee throughout the day, but I now I have my two cups and that's all I drink. I'm not groggy in the afternoon and I don't crave more coffee.”

Alertness is all well and good, but what exactly are the health implications of plopping a couple of tablespoons of fat into your cup? “It’s obviously delicious, but it’s not for everyone,” says Maria Pagano, RD and Tier 4 training manager at Equinox's private training club, E. “My metabolism doesn’t burn 4,000 to 5,000 calories where I’m able to burn this off. But if someone is doing a fast, this is something that could hold you over for quite some time.” Pagano also warns of issues with your blood lipids, and recommends that someone who is having the coffee-with-butter combination regularly get their levels of APO Lipid Protein B checked, which is the type of cholesterol correlated with heart disease.

Butter aside, the choice of coffee itself is just as significant as what you put in it. “The oxidation process and pesticides found in bad coffee are what cause inflammation in people’s bodies and make them feel like crap,” says Pagano, who is in agreement with Asprey’s crusade against toxic coffee found at many national coffee chains, and who recommends choosing wet-processed, hand-picked beans and having them roasted.

For more information on brewing your own winning cup of coffee, read our guide.