“Mushroom coffee?” you ask.
Yep, mushroom coffee is a thing, and many drinkers say they enjoy it. But, why? Why are people suddenly flocking to their local shroom coffee barista? Because mushroom coffee is lauded as a delicious and nutritious alternative to regular joe.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of the mushrooms used in this popular brew, what to watch out for, how it tastes, and where you can get it.
First, let us address the honey mushroom in the room: who in the world decided to start drinking mushrooms as a coffee replacement?
A Necessary Substitute
Coffee (java) is an incredibly popular drink in the US. Roughly 450 million cups of it are consumed each day. Yet, the US ranks far behind Finland in coffee consumption. The Finns consume a whopping 66-million ton of java juice per year.
It is an understatement to say these folks are in love with their morning (and evening) coffee. So, when supplies ran low in the 1940s (due to World War II), Finn brewers concocted a beverage from the Chaga tree fungus as a palatable replacement.
No, Chaga didn’t have the beloved kick of caffeine expected by drinkers, but it was a hot and healthy coffee replacement for a country with an average temperature of roughly 32° F.
In 2012, Finland’s Four Sigmatic company launched this traditional drink onto the world stage using superior harvesting practices and a solid marketing campaign.
Why Drink Mushroom Coffee?
Playing upon Finland’s historical use of mushrooms, Four Sigmatic began the mushroom coffee craze by blending powdered versions of four types of mushroom with regular coffee.
Since then, many other companies have taken up the banner as well. Today, mushroom coffee is a viable, healthy alternative to coffee that still contains enough caffeine to convert diehards. So, a few questions come to mind:
- What are the benefits?
- What does mushroom coffee taste like?
- What should I be aware of?
- Where can I buy it?
What are the Benefits?
The Chinese, who have used mushrooms for centuries as both food and medicine, are credited with bringing them to global awareness. These edible fungi have since become a staple of homeopathic remedies and product research. Research on any nonpharmaceutical is typically scant (who is going to fund this research after all?). Yet, these mushrooms have been vetted through animal testing in laboratories, in addition to centuries of observation by holistic health practitioners. While many of the benefits of these four do overlap, each mushroom has individual advantages as well.
This popular mushroom has been touted for improvements in white blood cell function, immune function (including as a cancer preventative), blood sugar control, and heart health. Research has been mixed on most of these findings, moreover, there have been cases of liver failure associated with supplementation. However, they do appear to boost immune function by increasing natural killer white blood cell activity in those who are ill.
This parasitic mushroom may have a jaw-dropping way of life, but it does appear to improve exercise performance. Moreover, limited research does indicate cordyceps live up to the hype (at least in animal studies) for providing anti-aging and anti-tumor benefits, blood sugar control, decreases in triglyceride levels, and an overall decreased inflammatory response.
Lion’s mane is an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that improves immune function, boosts cognitive health (reducing dementia), protects heart health, and even assists in cancer prevention (specifically leukemia, liver, colon, and gastric cancers). It can aid in controlling blood sugar, diminishing inflammatory bowel disease, accelerating wound healing, and boosting nervous system recovery.
The melanin-rich chaga mushroom is lauded for controlling blood sugar, lowering LDL cholesterol, protecting the liver, controlling and/or preventing diabetes, and producing anti-aging, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Chaga is super-high in fiber and vital essential nutrients and actually boasts a value of 52,000 on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale; deeming it one of the most antioxidant-rich of all the super foods.
What to Watch Out For
If you are It should be fine to experiment with any well-sourced mushroom coffee if you are healthy overall. The powder used in mushroom coffee is not subject to mandatory oversight. So, the quality and purity of the mushroom is not ensured. This is true of any food supplement; however, some transparent companies do submit their product for quality-testing, which can be verified. The price may be a bit more, but you will know that you are consuming a good product and supporting a worthy enterprise.
However, you should talk with your doctor before consuming mushroom coffee if you have underlying health conditions. For example, mushrooms can lower blood pressure and blood sugar; therefore, combining mushroom coffee with blood pressure and blood sugar medications can be dangerous. At the same time, we cannot stop taking these medications simply because we are drinking mushroom coffee.
How Does It Taste?
This brings us to the fundamental question: what does mushroom coffee taste like? Well, fortunately it doesn’t have the strong flavor of commonly eaten mushrooms. Most drinkers refer to the brew as “earthy,” saying it is not unpleasant at all and can offset some acidity of the coffee beans it is blended with.
Yes, mushroom coffee is a hybrid beverage consisting of some combination of the above mushrooms (in powdered form) with regular coffee. In addition, baristas serve mushroom coffee with ample creams and sweeteners.
Where Can I Get Mushroom Coffee?
Mushroom coffee is relatively trendy right now. Though you cannot find it at Starbucks (at least not yet), a quick internet search will yield countless online (as well as brick and mortar) locations where you can purchase your well-researched favorite.
Is Mushroom Coffee Worth Drinking?
Sure, why not? The mushrooms used in this coffee have documented wellness benefits and a reputation reaching back into antiquity. Moreover, many (if not most) of these benefits have been confirmed in modern day research. Mushroom coffee still contains ground coffee beans, giving the drink that boost of energy we love with a bit less jitteriness. While mushroom powder (Cordycep in particular) can be pricey, so can a “venti upside down half-caf breve cappuccino.” So, live a little and explore the healthier option of a mushroom coffee.