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Butter Coffee Trend Divides Coffee Shop Owners

By Jackie Kostek | June 27, 2014 7:20am | Updated on June 30, 2014 10:56am
Butter Coffee Trend Hits Chicago; Coffee Shops Take Note
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DNAinfo/Jackie Kostek

WEST TOWN — To some, it’s the buttery breakfast of champions. To others, it’s just “disgusting.”

Regardless of whether the trend is here to stay, butter coffee — which spawned from the popularity of the California-based Bulletproof Coffee brand — is here for now and is becoming a divisive issue among coffee shop owners.

“I think it’s the biggest joke in the world,” said Jeff Liberman, an owner of Asado Coffee, which has locations in Irving Park and West Town. “Are you that desperate to cover up the taste of the coffee?”

Liberman said he thinks the butter coffee trend is “hilarious” and not something his customers are looking for.

“People who come to our shop care about the actual coffee,” said Liberman, who added that his customers haven’t been too interested in the trend. “We are the opposite of butter coffee.”

At Dark Matter Coffee in Humboldt Park, Brian Grabiner, who’s the vice president of the company, said he’s had at least a few conversations a week with customers about butter coffee.

Grabiner said he believes most customers are simply curious about the trend and want to hear about it from a “coffee perspective.”

“Usually our stock answer is: We don’t get it and we won’t be offering it,” Grabiner said.

Grabiner said the staff at Dark Matter considers the health claims made by major butter coffee brands like Bulletproof to be “dubious.”

Mik Wright, whose Ugly Mug Cafe began selling butter coffee this week, said he’s careful to point out that butter coffee should be consumed only as a supplement to a healthy diet.

“It’s a beverage,” Wright said. “It’s not a meal replacement even though it does have a lot of the proteins and the dairy and the fats that your body requires.”

Wright said workers at Ugly Mug worked to perfect their version of butter coffee, which includes brewed coffee from Two Brothers, two tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter (also a key ingredient in the Bulletproof recipe), coconut oil, agave and a dash of cinnamon.

“In a sense, you’re getting your caffeine with your fat,” Wright said.

Wright said he wouldn’t be surprised if butter coffee — another “culinary experiment” — became a standard coffee shop menu item soon because butter is a staple in so many other food items.

“Why can’t it be for coffee?” Wright said. “It is an acquired taste, no doubt about that.”

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