Bulletproof Coffee - Helpful or Harmful? Science or misinformation?
My name is Royce Robertson and I'm the owner and roastmaster of Joshua Tree Coffee Company. After being asked about mycotoxins in coffee by the fourth person recently at a farmer's market in Palm Desert, I feel it's time to speak out about Bulletproof coffee and David Asprey.
Lose 100 pounds while eating 4500 calories a day, "upgrade your brain by 20 IQ points", add years to your life with little to no exercise, and less sleep and "lower your biological age"! Those are pretty bold claims and what Mr Asprey is promising us we too can have if we buy his "Upgraded Bulletproof" coffee and MCT and XCT oils.
Let's delve into what Bulletproof coffee is and isn't. Asprey claims that coffee contains dangerous levels of mycotoxins and that his coffee doesn't. He also makes a list of symptoms caused by the mycotoxins found in coffee.
First of all, studies have shown that roasting coffee beans destroys 70-80% of any mycotoxins. Combine this with the fact that the quantities found in specialty grade coffee are already so low people should be looking at the levels of mycotoxins found in the broad range of food items and beverages consumed by every person regardless of diet. In the case of some products like alcoholic beverages, grains are often used that are so contaminated with fungi and mycotoxins, that they are deemed unfit for consumption as a table food.
Specialty coffee represents about 20% of coffee produced annually now and contains very low levels of mycotoxins. Also, coffee with a noticeable mold defect is actually fairly easy to detect during cupping (a process of carefully tasting coffee for the purpose of selecting the best), as it would literally taste "moldy" to anyone with a decent palate.
Now what about Asprey's claims including that it takes a huge amount of effort to test for mycotoxins in his coffee? Surely that alone has some value to someone that he's testing his coffee and others aren't. Well, unfortunately he has never published any results and ignores constant requests for them. In fact he ignores questions from the coffee community, scientists, doctors, and anyone who's asking him to substantiate his claims with real science and not a link to his testimonial page which is "proof".
Coffee is the second most heavily traded commodity in the world after oil and 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day, and billions of pounds of coffee are consumed annually. We're to believe that in a world with a population of over 7 billion people and countless scientists, doctors, alternative health doctors, nutritionalists and other highly trained specialist, that no one knew that the levels of mycotoxins in coffee are horribly and adversely affecting everyone who consumes coffee until David Asprey suddenly discovered it!?
Do I believe that capitalism is both a wonderful and horrible thing at the same time that has resulted in the creation of High Fructose Corn Syrup (like sugar wasn't cheap enough) and GMO foods or foods that are sprayed with massive amounts of dangerous (so called "safe") pesticides? Yes. Or that the pharmaceutical companies and hospitals in our country harm more people than they help? Yes.
Do I think you should believe that of the billions of pounds of coffee produced every year that it's all horribly harmful to your health and that only one man in the world sells coffee that is safe to drink? No.
I also don't believe that you should be coerced by a highly intelligent salesperson to pay $25 per pound of coffee that is no different than other high grade specialty coffees available at much more reasonable prices.
Asprey has aligned himself with the paleo and grassfed movement and posts widely available information on a number of topics that is actually accurate and helpful. As such he has won the unquestioning trust of thousands of people.
I'm usually not one to voice my opinion publicly, much less to attack or smear people publicly. The following information is meant only to help people see the entire picture clearly when it comes to Asprey and his claims and products.
• Bulletproof coffee has never had a roast date printed on the bags - very convenient if you want to sell coffee which could be months old instead of roasted freshly before being shipped to you
• Asprey recommends freezing coffee. The clever and fun saying "What's comfortable for us is comfortable for coffee" helps to illustrate that coffee should not be refrigerated or frozen. The reason for this is that condensation occurs when the coffee is pulled out of the refrigerator or freezer. Where the topic is concern over fungus, encourage practices that result in damp coffee might not be a wonderful idea. Someone who claims to have done extensive research for over 10 years on coffee would know better than to recommend freezing it. You'll not find anyone with a real interest in specialty coffee not learning that in short order.
• He has a site dedicated to 6 second abs, sells a $1,500 vibration plate, share's a recipe for "Get Some" ice cream using some of his products as ingredients that increases sex drive, and said "I spent $20,000 doing 40 years of advanced Zen meditation in 7 very long days, which bought me 12 IQ points and a different response to stress. That’s the uber-car of biohacking and brain upgrading."
So the man telling you to buy his supposedly toxin free coffee, and skip breakfast and instead consume huge amounts of butter added to your coffee (or preferably his MCT and XCT oils), did 40 years of meditation in 7 days? Need I say more?
Also, Asprey is known to have been taking narcolepsy drugs, thyroid hormones, and testosterone for many years. He can claim all he wants that there's some reason he should be taking those drugs and that the performance enhancing drug use isn't responsible for his weight loss or anything else, and market products to individuals who often question even taking flu-shots (believed to have heavy metals and other toxins) much less consuming anything unnatural, all the while spending massive amounts of money on pharmaceuticals and testosterone treatments.
For anyone who believes in Bulletproof coffee or any of Asprey's other products, and feels that they've benefitted by using them, I'm not telling you that you're wrong or that you aren't experiencing what ever you believe your experiencing. Among other things, placebo has been observed in nearly every study in the history of man kind. With a control, a group given a medication or even a hip replacement, and another group given a salt tablet or simply told that a surgery was performed, when only an incision had been made, the placebo group constantly reports benefits.
I've always looked at giving accurate advice or recommendations as a responsibility that I honestly think too many people take lightly. As a result even health food store owners (no reference to locals by the way) get it wrong and stock they're shelves with questionable products. We live in a world where up to 30% of supplements have been found to not even contain the active ingredient and water filters claim to make water molecules smaller and cure cancer. Point being, not everything marketed as a natural, alternative health solution is what it claims to be. Don't assume that when you walk in a health food store that everything is good for you and don't assume that if someone makes some valid points or gives some good advice that you should blindly purchase every product they sell.
One last thing to note, Bulletproof coffee is grown on an estate which "doesn't allow pesticides" and where it's "not economical" to be certified organic. Maybe Asprey can pass along some of the $25 a pound he charges people to help the estate he buys coffee from to be certified.
Coffee is the second most heavily sprayed crop in the world and harmful banned pesticides are often used in many of the developing areas where coffee is grown, resulting in farmers and their children suffering deformities including skeletal deformities and children born missing limbs. From day one I've made it a priority to never roast or sell a single pound of coffee that isn't certified organic, and make an effort to make good organic coffee affordable enough to be available to everyone, and to educate as many people as possible as to the importance of buying organic.
I've taken the time to write this to answer a question that I'm being asked more and more frequently, and more importantly, encourage people to take the time to do research of their own rather than trusting any single source of information, especially when the source of that information stands to profit enormously from giving it.
To bring it back to coffee (which was what this was all about in the first place), Asprey recommends that you use MCT, XCT oils and 2/3 of a stick of butter in your morning coffee and skip breakfast. There's more longstanding research which suggests that consuming large quantities of fat like this is likely to cause health issues, not provide a list of benefits.
Too much of a good thing including butter, is not a good thing. In fact it can be toxic. Large amounts of fat (like consuming over 20 sticks of butter a month as per Asprey's advice) pull endotoxins from your intestines out into your bloodstream, which causes damaging stress to liver.
Also, rather than using MCT and XCT oils which are "6x stronger than coconut" and extracted using god knows what kind of chemical process, I'd highly recommend going and buying some real pure natural organic coconut oil (Tropical Traditions is a good source - I'm not affiliated with wink emoticon and adding that to your coffee if you want to add coconut oil to your coffee in the first place.
Happy New Year once again, and may this be a year that we all encourage each other to be careful about the advice we give, remember to question everything to find the truth, and enjoy good health and delicious organic specialty coffee!