Founder, Grass Fed Coffee
Known as “The Godfather” of the Indianapolis food truck scene, Ban has an innate passion for health and fitness – and while staying on the cutting edge of nutrition and exercise throughout his early career, he discovered butter coffee. He noticed that it provided him with clean energy without any crash, as well as mental clarity and focus throughout the day. So he set out to create his own butter coffee that would be accessible and convenient for everyone, without compromising taste, quality, and functionality from the amount of grass-fed butter and MCT oil. In addition, Grass Fed can be used as a meal replacement and is great for anyone on the Keto diet.
Upon its inception, Grass Fed Coffee broke the record for “Highest Funded Non-Alcoholic Project on Kickstarter, ever,” and since has been using the finest ingredients and crafting countless iterations of Grass Fed Coffee from their home base in downtown LA – quickly growing as a brand to watch and a disruptor in the healthy drink space.
My name is John Ban, Founder of . We make a ready-to-drink Butter Coffee with MCT Oil that is sold in most of the natural grocers in Southern Californiaas well as on & Grassfedcoffee.com. I’m a Korean-American that grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. I became one of the top DJ’s in my city at the age of 17. I was spinning in all of the top night clubs and also the hip-hop radio station Hot 96.3FM. I also launched the first food truck in Indianapolis in 2010, which created a huge food truck culture in that city. After selling 2 of my food truck businesses, I moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to start Grass Fed Coffee.
In 2014 I learned about the concept of adding grass-fed butter and MCT coconut oil to coffee. I bought all the ingredients and tried it out for a few days. I instantly felt my usual morning brain fog evaporate. A nice mental clarity came over me and I had lasting energy without a crash. I was surprised by how good it tasted without any sugar. I continued drinking this daily and then noticed that I was also losing fat. I discovered the Keto diet and learned how these fats in the butter were helping my brain function and metabolism. I saw an opportunity in the coffee/beverage industry for the first ready-to-drink butter coffee. This is how it all began.
The big trend right now is still the Keto diet and using butter coffee in place of your usual breakfast. The basic concept of this diet is training your body to use fat for energy as opposed to carbohydrates and sugar. The benefits of this diet are powerful fat burning effects, mental clarity and better cognitive function. This trend continues to rise because it’s very sustainable and you don’t have to be hungry on this diet.
The greatest opportunity is that the Keto trend continues to rise and has not even come close to peaking. And butter coffee is essentially the perfect Keto breakfast. The downside to making butter coffee is that is very time consuming. You can easily spend 15-20 minutes making it and cleaning up. That is why Grass Fed Coffee has been so successful, it saves our customers so much time and effort every day. You just grab one out of the fridge and it’s ready to drink.
The biggest challenge is re-educating the general public on nutrition. In the 80’s & 90’s we were told that fats and butter are bad for you, so everyone began consuming margarine instead of butter because they thought it was healthier. This was completely wrong and has led to countless health problems in society. Now that we live in a time where people have access to more information and independent labs and studies, we are discovering that the human body actually needs certain fats in order to function properly. The brain is made up of roughly 70% fat, so as we consume things like grass-fed butter or coconut oil, we notice improved cognitive function as well as increased metabolism. A significant number of senior citizens have been consuming Grass Fed Coffee with profound results. We have several testimonials of many elderly people in nursing homes having better memory recall and better body function after drinking our product.
The inspiration came from a desire to provide all the benefits of butter coffee in a ready to drink form. My team and I truly understand that our product is actually helping people live a healthier lifestyle and better quality of life. So our vision is to make Grass Fed Coffee a household name so that people will have a better source of energy and better cognitive function.
After a successful launch in natural retailers in SoCal with our original Butter Coffee, we are now coming out with three new flavors. It’s rare that retailers request more flavors from the manufacturer, because their shelf space is limited, but all of our major retailers have been asking for more versions. We are now coming out with Mocha, Vanilla, and Salted Caramel. We’re excited because these new flavors taste just as good as our original version and are still sugar-free.
Our key initiatives are now focused on expansion outside of California. We have proven that the concept and product both work in this region, and now we want to take GFC to other regions in the country. We believe that people may now be ready for our product because they are becoming more familiar with the keto diet and understanding the health benefits of grass-fed butter.
One of the most difficult moments was in 2018, when we began selling on Amazon. As a company we chose to not use strong emulsifiers in our product because we wanted to keep Grass Fed Coffee extremely clean and healthy. The downside to this is that it makes our product sensitive to high temperatures. When exposed to heat, it causes our natural emulsifier to breakdown causing clumps of butter. Small beads of butter are fine and normal but large clumps are not. We began selling on Amazon and things were going great until summertime. We didn’t know that Amazon warehouses get extremely hot. This caused all of our product at Amazon to be damaged. We had to deal with this catastrophe and make quick adjustments to keep our business afloat.
I think our customers really appreciate the taste of our product, especially because it has zero sugar. It makes it easy for them to start the day in Ketosis as well as improving their energy and performance throughout the day. Everyone that drinks butter coffee knows about the time-consuming process of making it and cleaning up. Our ready-to-drink coffee makes it so convenient.
I think the most effective strategy for inspiring and encouraging my team is treating them with genuine respect. I love my team because nobody has an ego and we just want the best ideas to be implemented. As far as motivating them, not much is required because my entire team is self-motivated and focused on their job. I just try to keep them from panicking during high stress moments. I’m truly blessed to work with the best people.
My career advice to those in the beverage industry is to spend more money to work with the best talent, and make sure that everyone on your team has high integrity. This will make your journey 100x easier and more enjoyable.
The 2 things that I am known for are: never panicking and doing things unconventionally. My entire life I have been misunderstood because my ideas are always outside the box. This caused me a lot of frustration growing up. I now believe this is one of my greatest advantages. I never panic and I always stay cool. This allows me to always view things rationally and make the right decisions under major pressure.
The reason that I am the best version of myself today is because of my faith in My God, Jesus Christ. I used to be so stressed out and angry. But after having some mind-blowing spiritual encounters with God, my life has been radically changed. I can honestly say that I now live with absolutely no fear, no stress, no anxiety, and no worries. This has been the game changer and one of the reasons that I am the best version of myself today.
My goal for Grass Fed Coffee is to build this company to national and international distribution.
My personal goal is to get my net worth to a point where I can implement many of my ideas to help those that are less fortunate in the world.
My most challenging moment was the day my mother passed away from cancer. It was such a devastating time in my life, and it took me about five years to truly recover from that. I was able to move forward and still accomplish my goals, but emotionally and spiritually I was a wreck. I was making bad decisions in my personal life and getting into unhealthy relationships. But by that grace of God, I made it and I’m here today.
Life is not a race, it’s more like a dance. -John Ban