If you want to stay bulletproof while partaking of one of life’s greatest pleasures, coffee, it’s really important to learn how to avoid getting a cupful of potent neuroactive mycotoxins along with your caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. The only way to be certain you are performing your best by not getting toxins in your coffee is to bring Bulletproof Process Upgraded Coffee beans with you, which is what I do.
But sometimes you just don’t have any Bulletproof with you, and you’re dying for the performance enhancing boost that only coffee gives. Here is what to do to find coffee with a lower than average level of toxins in any city. Sometimes you will still crash from the coffee you find, but your odds of it happening are lower.
This came about because one of our readers just wrote and said:
Just found your site via a mention HackerNews. I Googled “Bulletproof Coffee” and that URL was ranking #1. Do you have any suggestions for where I can buy arabaic wet process coffee online? I went to a high end grocery store in Austin that has at least 50+ coffees and they looked at me like I had a third arm when I asked. Thanks, Jeremy
The easiest solution is to just grow a third arm, so when you ask about coffee at grocery stores, you can be confident that’s why you get those looks. But if DIY-biology isn’t your thing, there is still hope.
I used to deal with finding stellar coffee in strange places because I’m often in 3 different cities in a single week to speak at conferences, so productivity and focus is massively important. I need to be full of energy, bulletproofed, and not waste time searching for coffee. The difference in productivity between a bad cup of coffee and a stellar one is so important that I don’t mess around. Drinking nasty Starbucks and feeling awful afterwards isn’t really an option for me before I go on stage. Plus, coffee toxins can kill you (video about avoiding mycotoxins ).
Now, I don’t waste time on coffee shop roulette searching for lower toxin coffee. I often just bring a Nalgene full of Upgraded Coffee . Then it takes me 3 minutes to make coffee in my hotel, saving me time vs. waiting in line for bad coffee in a hotel lobby. Sometimes I bring a Hario V60, but often I just put some ground coffee in a cup, add hot water, stir, wait 4 minutes, then after the grounds sink, I decant the top and drink it. Redneck french press any0ne?
But how would I know a coffee shop in a random good? To illustrate, I’ll walk you through my thought process as I find the best coffee in Austin for Jeremy. I’ve used this process to find top rated, low toxin coffee in cities around the US and Canada. Here is what I did:
Step 1: Google “Best coffee in Austin” Yelp usually comes up with a short list. You can ignore most individual reviews raving about coffee because the average person wouldn’t know a great cup of coffee from an average one, so they always use sugar and go by cool the décor and baristas are. However, the aggregate Yelp ranking is pretty useful.
Step 2: Visit the top ranked sites of the coffee places from Yelp/Google If a coffee snob who clearly knows his coffee, has commented, you’re on the right track. The best tasting coffee is often the coffee that will make you perform best, but not always.
Step 3: Look for coffee houses that offer single-origin coffee and do not rely on blended coffee, along with other markers of quality coffee, such as coffee houses that roast their own beans or hire large numbers of people with tattoos and piercings. In this case, the top 3 were:
Summermoon Coffee Bar - These guys look promising. Their site says “artisan” and they wood-roast their organic fair trade coffee. But when I look at their online store, all the beans are blends. That means they take some beans from here, some beans from there, and mix them until they taste ok. Blending is something you do when you don’t have 100% great beans. It dramatically increases your chances of getting some beans that aren’t as close to perfect as possible.
I’d pass on Summermoon unless I was ok with feeling just ok, not bulletproof. Their coffee probably tastes great. The ambience looks great. I haven’t been there. But from the data online, the odds are that this coffee isn’t going to make you perform as well as some other coffees that are not blended.
Caffé Medici - One reviewer said, “By far, the best cup of coffee I had while in Austin. In fact, one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had, period. Blue Bottle, LA Mill and Caffe Calabria included…” That means this is probably a good coffee place. The website says they focus on equipment extensively (another good sign). When I read “Our espresso machine is a La Marzocco FB 80. We pull 1.5-2 oz of espresso at 24 to 26 seconds in 18 gram baskets,” I feel slightly giddy. I’m a coffee hacker too.
But then, that giddiness is shattered by the fact that they serve a blend for their espresso and their French Press. The very best coffee is made by modifying the roast and brewing process to fit the beans, not by mixing beans together. (That is a religious statement to some; to me it’s all about reducing fusarium-infected beans so I can perform that much better.)
Third Roast Coffee - The top Yelp comment for Third Roast said, “Everything else aside (and there is a lot!), Third Coast has the best coffee in Austin. They have a dizzying variety of single origins and blends, every one of which is delicious…” When you log in to their website, you can track the origin of your coffee lot number on the home page. They buy their coffee green and roast it themselves. They actually know the people who grew their beans, and offer Central American varieties.
The website doesn’t say how their coffee is processed, but I’d bet that they have a variety of methods. If you called them or showed up and asked for their cleanest, wet process (or washed process), high altitude Central American beans, they wouldn’t look at you like you had a third arm at all. They might instead look at you like they would marry you on the spot, because you were an educated coffee drinker who cared about their craft.
And the winner is…
Site unseen, if I was in Austin, I’d head to Third Roast Coffee to get beans to make Bulletproof Coffee. It doesn’t look like they serve coffee there, which isn’t a problem since Jeremy is looking for a bean source, not a place to drink coffee.
If I was going to drink coffee at a coffee house in Austin, I’d find one that used Third Roast Coffee beans, or I’d try Summermoon for the novelty of the wood fired roasting or Caffe’ Medici – but I’d be taking a small risk of being less bulletproof if their beans were processed by letting them mold in the sun (known as natural process).
In San Francisco, I head to Four Barrel NOT Blue Bottle, because, while Blue Bottle has the most fantastic brewing setup ever and is worth seeing just for that, their coffee is mostly blended or natural process, and I can feel the difference in performance from it. Four Barrel is single origin and usually has wet process beans. Ritual Roasters is a good choice too. In the South Bay, Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View stocks and brews Four Barrel beans.
At the end of the day, to be bulletproof as you can be, you need to decide to either not drink coffee at all or to drink only really, really good coffee.