Last Updated on August 6, 2020
How Bulletproof Went From Coffee to Biohacking Powerhouse
You may have heard about Bulletproof coffee, the trend that’s raging in the wellness community. Just a few years ago you and your friends were likely discussing the odd combination of butter and coffee. But this unusual recipe has grown into a bonafide brand and a real leader in the biohacking space.
When Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey found himself overweight, depressed and prone to eating his emotions at 20 years old, he had no idea that his situation would one day launch an empire. Eventually, finding himself at a deep low, he realized and admitted that even he wouldn’t want to hire himself. The software entrepreneur started to dig deeper to find a way out of this rut, and began analyzing everything from his sleep to the types of foods he was consuming.
Today, Asprey has become known for his approach to “biohacking,” which he refers to as an art and science of controlling your biology through eating certain foods and tweaking your environment. So how did his buttery coffee transform into a full-on brand? Glad you asked.
The origins of Bulletproof
When the future biohacking guru found himself trekking Mount Kailash to learn meditation from the Buddhist pilgrims who walked around the base of the mountain, the extreme cold and high altitudes left Asprey in a brain fog. He stumbled into a home where a Tibetan woman prepared a cup of hot tea blended with yak’s butter—and there it was. Asprey experienced his light bulb moment—and what has since become a branded return to mental clarity.
Years later, that chance cup of tea has inspired the Bulletproof brand. After mixing and matching various types of coffees (his own version of the tea) with various types of grass-fed butters, and adding MCT oils, Asprey arrived at the formula that would soon become a trending biohacking technique with a cult-like following.
How does Bulletproof work?
One cup of Bulletproof coffee can run you up a whopping 450 calories. The idea behind it is that you’ll get your usual boost of caffeine, but the added calories will keep you full and improve mental clarity. The recipe consists of two cups of black coffee, 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil and 2 tablespoons of unsalted grass-fed butter blended until frothy. Bulletproof hackers swear by Kerrygold Butter and high quality, single origin beans.
Building momentum with star power
Asprey wasn’t the first to start marketing the benefits of buttered coffee. A blogger/paleo expert named Paul Chek was promoting his own take on buttered coffee well before Bulletproof became super popular. But a few different elements contributed to the rise of Bulletproof Coffee. Asprey was working in Silicon Valley, where he’d long been a user and promoter of smart drugs. He even appeared at South by Southwest in a 2011 brain hacking panel.
Jimmy Fallon talked about the Bulletproof coffee recipe on his show and with guest actress, Shailene Woodley. Around the same time, Asprey was promoting his book, The Bulletproof Diet, which became a New York Times bestseller in 2015. Much of his rise to fame can be attributed to a consistent stream of personal branding with quality content, books and podcasts, as well as his marketing of novel ideas about unlocking the body’s potential through food.
The spread of a biohacking empire
Since you can’t really monetize a cup of coffee alone, Asprey has developed a proprietary bag of coffee beans: a mold-resistant combination of Guatemalan and Columbian beans. He’s also marketed a product called Brain Octane Oil, which is essentially a $45 bottle of pure coconut oil that claims to support cognitive performance and burn body fat. The Bulletproof stores sell ground coffee, Keurig pods and prepackaged cold brews along with a product known as “FATWater.”
Bulletproof products have garnered a number of major name vendors and fans. So it’s no surprise that Bulletproof is sold through Crossfit gyms around the country, as well as in Whole Foods markets and on the official Bulletproof website. These purveyors of clean eating and high health and fitness are avid proponents of becoming the best version of yourself.
The brand opened its flagship Bulletproof Labs in Santa Monica, CA where they offer a variety of biohacking techniques and “human upgrade” systems like cryotherapy, light therapy, cold HIIT, virtual float tanks and more to help guests “become Bulletproof.” Through mind-body methods, Bulletproof specialists measure and track your progress on the journey toward biohacking your own comprehensive wellness.
While the Bulletproof empire has grown and spread around the nation, the products themselves aren’t all that revolutionary. But paired with a biohacking narrative of personal growth and achievement, it’s spurred a movement that’s become just what the proverbial doctor ordered.