Cannabis-Infused Bulletproof Coffee Would Make Balzac Proud
In the 1840s, a group of Parisian intellectuals used to gather to drink hashish-spiked coffee and fuel their creative minds. Why not update that little ritual by blending the biohacker's favorite drink—Bulletproof Coffee—with cannabutter?
Photo by David Bienenstock.
Back in college, The Weed Eater had a roommate who used to start every day with an enormous thermos of coffee and a Bob Marley-sized spliff—a breakfast of champions colloquially known as a hippie speed ball. This rather industrious young engineering major, who now works as an executive at a leading tech firm, revered each morning's ritualistic pairing of cannabis and caffeine as the only combination capable of getting his heart racing and his mind racing simultaneously, without the use of dangerous synthetic chemicals.
"I still start the day that way about once a week, especially when I've got a good, long, sustained project to work on, and not a bunch of distractions," he confided recently. "For me, a large dose of coffee takes the creative high of marijuana and pushes it from a state of dreaming and wondering into a state of creating and realization."
Members of Paris's famed Club des Hashischins regularly gathered to drink a special blend of strong coffee, hashish, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, pistachio, orange juice, cantharides, sugar, and butter.
That mental space must have been intimately familiar to Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, and the other members of Paris's famed Club des Hashischins (Hashish Club), who regularly gathered in the 1840s to don traditional Arab clothes and drink a special blend of strong coffee, hashish, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, pistachio, orange juice, cantharides, sugar, and butter that they called dawameska, in honor of the concoction's Middle Eastern origins.
The French had first begun consuming hashish in 1789, when soldiers tasked by Napoleon with invading Egypt picked up the local custom. A total ban on hashish possession and consumption in the military soon resulted, but apparently to little effect, because when those French troops returned home from Egypt, they brought a taste for hashish with them—literally, in fact, as it was then customarily eaten (or imbibed), not smoked.
"It was in an old house on the Île St-Louis, the Pimodan hotel built by Lauzun, where the strange club which I had recently joined held its monthly séance," philosopher, author, and journalist Théophile Gautier wrote of his first visit to the Club des Hashischins. "The doctor stood by a buffet on which lay a platter filled with small Japanese saucers. He spooned a morsel of paste or greenish jam about as large as a thumb from a crystal vase, and placed it next to the silver spoon on each saucer. The doctor's face radiated enthusiasm; his eyes glittered, his purple cheeks were aglow, the veins in his temples stood out strongly, and he breathed heavily through dilated nostrils. 'This will be deducted from your share in Paradise,' he said as he handed me my portion..."
The doctor was Jacques-Joseph Moreau, a leading psychiatrist of the day, whose personal experiments with hashish would lead him to pioneer the study of how drugs affect the central nervous system, and write a 439-page book called Hashish and Mental Illness. The Club des Hashischins basically served as Dr. Moreau's stoned guinea pigs—a group of highly cerebral, extremely articulate test subjects to observe in close quarters as they consumed hashish in precisely measured amounts.
At each meeting, as Moreau quietly took notes, Balzac and the rest drank off their cups of dawameska, and then indulged in a great feast while waiting for the drugs to take hold (which typically happened around the time they finished their meal). According to various members' accounts of the experience—including flowery descriptions of celestial voices, divine visions, and powerful hallucinations—it's safe to assume that they gulped down rather large servings of THC at each session, enough to produce intensely psychedelic effects that many cherished and other disdained. Baudelaire, for example, rarely indulged, based on a belief that, "wine makes men happy and sociable; hashish isolates them. Wine exalts the will; hashish annihilates it."
Though perhaps they just didn't brew up the right blend to suit his personal biochemistry, as the famed French poet clearly acknowledged that the Club's signature beverage had a creatively stimulating effect on other members, however fleeting and deleterious.
"It sometimes happens that people completely unsuited for word-play will improvise an endless string of puns and wholly improbable idea relationships fit to outdo the ablest masters of this preposterous craft," he wrote. "But after a few minutes, the relation between ideas becomes so vague, and the thread of thoughts grows so tenuous, that only your cohorts... can understand you."
The one thing Bulletproof Coffee doesn't do is get you high—until now.
But what if there was a way to make that creative burn last for six hours or more, without a crash of fatigue and indolence at the back end? Some modern method for mixing up the medicine that combines the traditional chemical alchemy of the ancients with the latest modern food trends.
"When you make Bulletproof Coffee with the correct ingredients—brewed coffee made with mold-free coffee, grass fed butter, and Brain Octane Oil—you're using a mix of the shortest chain medium chain triglyceride and longer chain saturated fats from butter," according to Dave Asprey, founder and CEO of The Bulletproof Executive. "By blending these all together, you form tiny droplets of healthy fats called micelles that your body eagerly absorbs."
He says the inspiration for bulletproof coffee struck him on a mountainside in Tibet. At 18,000 feet, he staggered out of the freezing cold and into a guest house, where wise locals offered up a creamy cup of yak butter tea for warmth and rejuvenation—a tonic that worked so well it left the self-described "biohacker" wondering how exactly it all functioned on a molecular level.
A silicon valley investor, technology entrepreneur, and popular podcast host, Asprey now sells products and runs seminars based on this and other lessons learned by spending "15 years and over $300,000 to hack his own biology." Including starting every day with a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, a morning ritual he credits with helping him "lose 100 pounds without counting calories or excessive exercise," while raising his IQ by 20 points, lowering his biological age, and learning to sleep more efficiently in just five hours a night.
Of course, the one thing Bulletproof Coffee doesn't do is get you high—until now.
"Coffee itself has specific effects on inflammation in the body, and so do cannabinoids, which are also fat soluble," Asprey notes approvingly when told of the Weed Eater's plan to brew up a batch using truly grass-fed butter. "The end result is that your uptake of cannabinoids should be higher, and there may be a synergistic effect with the other oils. You also may note the increase in energy that comes from ketones that form easily from Brain Octane Oil. Having less inflammation and more energy in the brain is a potent combination."
So, does he know of anybody who's tried it?
"There have been a few accounts of mixing cannabutter into Bulletproof Coffee on Twitter, and certainly there are lots of people who simultaneously use Bulletproof Coffee and cannabis, but I don't know of anyone who's added cannabidiol (CBD) oil to Bulletproof Coffee, besides me," he says. "I tried it once at a hotel where I didn't have a good blender, so the micelles weren't as well formed as I'd have hoped. (Translation: The coffee wasn't as foamy as it should have been, so the test may not have been that good). The taste wasn't great. It's hard to say if I felt less inflammation, and the CBD I used had negligible THC so the effect would have been mild."
To test the power of cannabis-powered bulletproof coffee firsthand, The Weed Eater infused a batch of grass-fed butter with some high-quality hashish (in homage to the Hachichins), then used it to follow Dave Asprey's recipe exactly. The result was a frothy, buttery blend with undertones of coconut and hashish that likely tasted a lot better than any cup brewed using butter infused with raw plant marijuana.
As for the effects: With a small dose, The Weed Eater accessed a pleasant cannabis/coffee buzz that felt more subtle, and far more sustained, than the quick jolt of a true hippie speedball. But of course, in the tradition of the Club Des Hachichins, our collective research should not stop there. So please contact your favorite cannabis columnist via Twitter to share your findings, after experimenting with marijuana-infused Bulletproof Coffee yourself at home.
And naturally, "endless string of puns and wholly improbable idea relationships" earn extra points!