Bulletproof CEO Dave Asprey says he got the idea for his high-tech coffee from a “little old woman” he met in Tibet about 18,000 feet above sea level. She gave him a cup of traditional yak butter tea in 2004, and “it just turned my brain on in a noticeable way.”
He’s been working ever since to bring the wonder drink to the U.S.
The company, based in Bellevue, Wash., just opened its first coffee shop in Santa Monica, Calif. and announced it has raised $9 million to open more locations and expand its health food operations. The money came from Trinity Ventures, the same firm that backed Starbucks and Zulily.
One day, Asprey says he hopes to see Bulletproof coffee shops — which put butter in coffee instead of milk — in major cities around the country.
“The reason for that is people really do feel different when they have Bulletproof coffee. The quality of their day is noticeably better,” Asprey said. “Part of my mission with Bulletproof is just to spread knowledge that you have control of your own biology. When you do things right — sometimes it’s just a small change — you can feel the difference. Maybe you’ll lose weight, maybe you’ll just be nicer to the people around you. Whatever it is.”
The key to Bulletproof Coffee, he says, is its unique — and drawn out — production process. Asprey talks about the way his company conducts lab testing, multi-toxin screens and focuses “on the invisible things” other coffee companies don’t care about. Bulletproof contains “Brain Octane Oil” and uses a lighter roast that has been “tuned” so it tastes good with butter.
You won’t find milk or a rack of pastries anywhere in a Bulletproof coffee shop. It’s all been replaced with foods that Asprey says help suppress hunger and increase brain function.
And if you want something other than butter to stir into your drink, Bulletproof has all sorts of herbs and Chinese mushrooms designed for certain biological effects, like increasing fat burning.
A cup of coffee starts at $4.25 and goes up from there based on size and add-ons.
“It’s an involved [production] process,” Asprey says. “But what comes out of it is a consistent comment, ‘Wow, I didn’t get a crash and jitters when I drank this and I do from normal coffee.’”
Asprey said the Santa Monica store, which opened on July 25, was also built with human performance in mind. The floor and furniture are electronically grounded, which he said discharges static like walking barefoot on the beach. There’s a whole body vibration platform you can stand on while you wait for your drink and the lights change colors to help sync your circadian rhythms.
“It’s little things you probably wouldn’t see that make the little changes that cause people to perform better,” Asprey said. “You won’t hear about it at any other coffee shop. … I woke up at 4 this morning, made a Bulletproof coffee, hoped on a plane, and didn’t touch or even think about food until 2 in the afternoon. And that’s awesome. To be able to do that, that’s what it’s really about.”