I’m sure that you have heard about Bulletproof® Coffee, the drink that really isn’t a drink but is one part of a wider ‘lifestyle’ brand that promotes weight loss and increased cognitive functions.
As the story goes, Dave Asprey, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, learned about the “power of butter” in hot drinks when climbing Mount Kailash in Tibet and was given a cup of yak butter tea.
We imagine at this moment that the discovery was played out in a comical cartoon fashion that featured lots of cogs whirring before he ran out into the snow shouting ‘Eureka!’
As he explains: “[I] was literally rejuvenated…This bio-hacker in me asked, ‘why?’”
Well, he apparently found the ‘why?’ out and released his product after some time spent tinkering.
But he may have been beaten by a few hundred years, as Susan Wong explains for Kenya’s Capital FM. The writer says that the trend of adding butter to coffee has been practiced in Ethiopia for absolutely ages.
Despite the well-loved and often quoted story of Kaldi, the Ethiopian goat-herder who allegedly discovered the coffee beans, many historians actually believe that beans were initially chewed long before anybody decided to create what we’d class as an espresso.
According to the academics coffee beans were likely to be ground and mixed with a form of clarified butter known as niter kibbeh.
(Niter kibbeh is very similar to ghee, the most prominent type of clarified butter that is especially popular on the subcontinent. The main difference is that spices – and perhaps coffee! –was added to it)
From this a thick paste was formed which was then shaped into easily transportable shapes so that people could consume them as and when was required, generally on long journeys across the mountainous terrain.
This tradition is still ongoing to this very day, with Wong stating that it remains a prevalent practice in the Sidamo and Kaffa regions of Ethiopia.
photo: Pseph (Flickr), Creative Commons