Another blog entry about coffee? Why not—apparently coffee is becoming a defining characteristic of American culture.
In middle school, I read a book by a young adult author called Cornelia Funke, who wrote a novel about a boy and a dragon who end up in the Himalayas. One of the exotic customs with which the two were confronted was yak butter tea—green tea with butter mixed in. I remember vaguely thinking that something with such a high fat content could not be easy to drink, and moved on.
Fast forward a couple years late—bulletproof coffee has burst onto the scene, accompanied by keto and paleo. Bulletproof is the name of a company, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur, David Asprey, who works to “hack” his own body. Among one of his hacks is bulletproof coffee—high-quality coffee, mixed with high-quality butter and coconut oil. The fats from the butter are supposed to keep the body satisfied longer than just caffeine.
Intriguingly, Dave Asprey’s entire company, as mentioned before, rises out of Silicon Valley’s culture of “hacking”—there has to be a simpler way to fix a problem, and all it takes is some careful research to get to the root of the problem, some money spent on testing and refining the solution, and some initial customers who are very enthusiastic about the product.
Bulletproof coffee has been embraced by a few Silicon Valley and Hollywood elite, and then gradually spread around the country. In some ways, it mirrors how technology is usually spread from Silicon Valley’s early adapters to the rest of the country. With Bay Area innovators moving beyond the next great app to other problems, such as the body (Soylent is another prominent example), bulletproof coffee may be part of the first wave of biohackers. Startups have already undermined the traditional power of computing giants from the Bay Area—startups next may seize power from corporations that have typically provided food for Americans.
Bulletproof coffee is part of a general backlash against our general obsession with low-fat diets. The armchair psychologist in me sees this as Americans in general trying to seize some agency. Low-fat foods were produced en masse by corporations—bulletproof coffee seems more natural, and consumers enjoy paying a premium for this natural product.