What is Mushroom Coffee and Why Is Everyone Drinking It?
Mushroom coffee is popping up everywhere, including in my cupboard. Let’s take a deep dive into what in the world it is and why people are drinking it.
Wait, did you say mushroom coffee...like, mushrooms IN coffee?
Yes. Mushroom coffee is exactly what it sounds like. Mushrooms inside your cup of coffee. Depending on the brand, most mushroom coffee servings are made of up 50mg of caffeine (usually in the form of instant coffee) and around 500mg of ground medicinal mushrooms. Most tend to contain half the amount of caffeine than a standard coffee, but many people claim that the energy boosting properties of the mushrooms make up for that difference.
What type of mushrooms are we talking about?
All mushrooms, including store bought varieties such as portobello, cremini and button are extremely healthy, however those being mixed with coffee are ‘medicinal’ or ‘functional’ mushrooms and refer to a specific category of fungi containing an extremely high count of nutrients. None of these can be eaten whole or raw as they can have a bitter and woody taste, but rather in the form of powders, supplements, drops, and as of recently, coffee.
Are these magic mushrooms?
I know you were secretly wondering that… Mushroom coffee is not made from magic mushrooms. The medicinal mushrooms present in mushroom coffee do not contain any psilocybin - the ingredient responsible for causing hallucinations. It’s 100% legal and safe to drink before work.
I know you’re now wondering… why?
The biggest reason people take medicinal mushrooms is for health benefits. Different mushrooms are shown to have different effects – with some increasing antioxidant activity in the body and supporting the immune system function and others improving exercise performance and helping balance hormones in the body. All medicinal mushrooms are termed “adaptogenic” and are shown to strengthen our bodies’ response to stressful situations, helping your body adapt to both internal and external stressors. As we know, modern life can be (very) stressful so it’s no surprise that mushroom coffee has become so popular in helping people to address the impact of stress on their bodies.
So what mushrooms are in mushroom coffee?
Although there are more than 850 mushroom species with medicinal properties documented, the most commonly used in mushroom coffee are: Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Chaga and Cordyceps. Different combinations of each are recommended depending on what your health focus is.
- The Reishi mushroom is claimed to be one of the most effective at fighting stress in the body. It is shown to improve immune function and to have anti-inflammatory effects, as well as protecting your liver and helping with allergic responsiveness.
- The Chaga mushroom is claimed to be the one containing the most antioxidants and which supports the immune system best. It’s present in most mushroom coffee blends as its alkaline minerals balance the acidity of coffee.
- The Lion’s Mane mushroom is shown to improve cognitive functions and provide a mental boost in the short term, and to stimulate nerve growth in the long term. It’s also very commonly present in coffee blends as it is shown to support focus and concentration.
- The Cordyceps mushroom is claimed tooxygenate the body and support the bodies’ ability to produce energy through ATP. Cordyceps aren’t typically vegan as they typically grow on insects, but brands such as Four Sigmatic grow their cordyceps on rice, making them suitable for vegans.
So what does mushroom coffee taste like exactly?
Whilst it’s not exactly like an americano or strong filtered coffee, it also doesn’t taste like mushrooms. The flavour is more earthy and dark like black coffee. Speaking from experience, you get used to and start embracing (and maybe even craving?!) the taste after 2-3 cups.
Is this yet another new health fad?
Whilst drinking mushrooms in coffee might be a new trend, mushrooms themselves have been used in Chinese and Shamanic medicine for thousands of years to prevent and treat diseases. Whilst widespread use of medicinal mushrooms has seen a boom in the last few years, its use as a healing product is definitely not new.
Where can I try mushroom coffee?
If you’re curious about trying some shroomy coffee, check your local health food shop and see what brands are available to you. Four Sigmatic is my current favourite but hard to find it in shops, so I tend to order it online. If you’re interested in the health benefits of mushrooms but enjoy your coffee plain, have a go at buying reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane in the form of supplements or powders to put into your smoothies.
How do you make it?
If you’re using a ready-made blend of mushroom coffee, follow the instructions and recommended dose on the packet and add milk and sugar as you would to your normal cup of coffee. If you have powdered mushrooms, add from ½ - 1 tsp of them to your coffee and mix it in. It’s a good idea to start with less and work your way up if you’re enjoying it!
by Valentina Concordia
Valentina is our Food Editor, who dreams up our tasty dishes and recipes for our social channels. She has loads of experience cooking up a storm in Italian kitchens, so it’s no surprise she can’t live without good-quality olive oil (don’t come between her and her olive oil) and fresh pasta.