How Much Butter in Your Coffee?

While it is not an entirely unheard of practice in the West, many might turn their nose up at the concept of mixing butter into their coffee or tea. However, this unusual combination is popular around the world. The practice is popular in places like Tibet where heavily salted yak butter is mixed in strong black tea.

This traditional beverage is probably a little intense for first-timers. However, fear not. Nutritionist Lily Nicholas (RDN, CDE, CLT), has some recipe suggestions and some information about the potential health benefits of using butter in your coffee or tea.

Nicholas suggests that newbies start with a low dose of butter as many people are no longer used to “real food fats”. Too much at once can trigger cramping or diarrhea. A newbie’s digestive system will need time to adjust.

She also suggests that some people may prefer coconut oil as an alternative to butter to get those good fats (and MCTs), but the beverage won’t whip up in a creamy fashion if you use only coconut oil. Nicholas states that using high-quality, unsalted butter from grass-fed cows is ideal. Regular off-the-shelf butter may not produce a high-quality beverage—Nicholas admits to being a butter snob, however. Finally, blend-blend-blend is her mantra if you want a beverage that resembles a latte and not a cup of coffee with oil blobs of butter floating around.

Nicholas notes that those who have trouble eating breakfast in the morning might find this unusual beverage beneficial because:

  1. It doesn’t overwhelm your digestive system with a heavy load of food, but does provide some necessary calories (from fat) to carry you through part of your morning.
  2. Because that energy is coming from fat, it does this without giving you rebound hypoglycemia (or in real talk, crazy hanger, low energy, and cravings that you usually get after a typical high carb meal, like cereal or oatmeal).

Next she suggests the coffee-butter-beverage to those who, despite their best efforts, are always starting before lunch. She writes, “Since fat stabilizes your blood sugar without raising or lowering it, adding it to your coffee or tea is the perfect addition to make breakfast more satiating long term. It’s fantastic for those of us who easily go hypoglycemic (ahem- me!).”

While it might not be the most pleasant thought, Nicholas suggests the beverage as a possible, natural cure to frequent constipation as fats are essential to keeping your digestive system working smoothly. She also suggests butter as an additive that will benefit people who are hyper sensitive to caffeine, “Anecdotally, having fat along with your morning dose of caffeine can dampen its effects.”

She notes also that this beverage could be a major boon to those trying to lose weight. She notes that in the morning the body is less efficient at breaking down carbs and that the body favors fats as morning fuel. She also notes that such a beverage could be part of a ketogenic diet, which relies more on fats than carbs. Nicholas also back tracks to remind readers that this beverage should help people hold out until lunch with fewer snacks.

Finally, she notes that while both coffee and tea have excellent antioxidant levels, milk proteins negate their benefits. Butter, on the other hand, contains very few milk proteins making it an excellent real dairy substitute for those looking to benefit from antioxidants in coffee and tea.