Mushroom coffee is just that—coffee mixed with pure mushroom extract. It doesn't taste like fungi, though. Instead, this beverage exudes the rich coffee flavor that makes up most of the drink. Often sold in ready-to-mix packets of instant coffee, mushroom coffee is easy and quick to make. Most people choose mushroom coffee as a health aide, touting a long list of benefits including it having less caffeine than the average cup of joe, which is sometimes true though not always the case.
- Origin: Finland
- Caffeine: Varies
- Main Ingredient: Reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, or cordyceps mushrooms and coffee beans
What Is Mushroom Coffee?
Mushroom coffee isn't a new invention; it dates back to World War II when Finnish people started making it as a coffee substitute. At the time there was a severe coffee shortage and all over the world, something many cultures dealt with by creating new and interesting beverages. Mushroom coffee was one of them, but instead of merely replacing that heady caffeine-filled drink so many people relied on, it also offered a boost of nutrients thanks to the addition of chaga mushrooms. This early mushroom coffee was made by soaking the chaga in water overnight and pressing out the liquid. That could be boiled alone or mixed with bits of real coffee for flavor.
Modern mushroom coffee uses extract from fungi, including the aforementioned chaga, reishi, lion's mane, and cordyceps mushrooms. The mushroom coffee industry was revitalized around 2017 thanks to entrepreneur Tero Isokauppila who started Four Stigmatic, a mushroom coffee company based out of Finland. Since then, other businesses have jumped on the mushroom coffee bandwagon, touting the health benefits of mushrooms, which include supporting memory functions, aiding in sleep, reducing inflammation, and supporting the immune system. When mixed with coffee, which is rich in antioxidants, mushroom extracts may create a healthier beverage.
Health Benefits of Mushroom Coffee:
The health benefits found in mushroom coffee is the main reason this beverage is currently made and drunk. Certain mushrooms have long been used in Chinese medicine. The reishi, lion's mane, cordyceps, and chaga fungi especially have been touted as having strong medicinal properties, and right now these are the main mushrooms found in mushroom coffee. Of course, there's also the coffee part, which is a source of vitamin B2 and antioxidants.
Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Lion's mane is consumed to help with brain function and ulcers. Reishi mushrooms may lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
For the cordyceps fungus, it's supposed to help regulate blood sugar and give energy, but not nervous energy like the caffeine in coffee can.
The original mushroom, chaga, has been known to support the immune system by stimulating white blood cells and aiding antibody growth.
Mushroom coffee is often used as a replacement for regular coffee, both to reduce caffeine intake as well as reap the benefits of consuming mushrooms. It's drunk any time of day a bit of caffeine is needed, especially in the morning and early afternoon.
How To Drink Mushroom Coffee
Many mushroom coffees on the market are in powder form so it's simple to mix with boiling water, whisk until smooth, and enjoy. Some mushroom coffee comes ground and looks just like an average bag of regular coffee. This stuff can be made however the drinker likes to make their coffee, be that in an automatic pot, the pour-over method, or pressed.
Buying and Storing
Most mushroom coffee is found online though some specialty grocery stores may carry it. Main brands include RYZE, Laird Superfood, Four Stigmatic, and Om Mushrooms. When buying mushroom coffee, make sure it's made with real coffee as some companies have jumped on the trend but make a tea with the fungi instead and still sell it as a mushroom coffee.
To store mushroom coffee, keep it in the bag or container it came in. These should be air-tight and kept out of direct light. Make sure no moisture gets in. Mushroom coffee won't go bad since both the mushroom extracts and coffee beans have a long shelf life, but the flavor will fade after the first few months. For the best flavor, use as soon as possible.
Mushroom Coffee vs. Chicory Coffee
Unlike mushroom coffee, chicory coffee doesn't have to contain actual coffee beans. Chicory is a caffeine-free root that can be roasted and brewed to make a toasty cup of brown liquid that mimics the flavors of coffee. Often it's made with coffee to create a low-caffeine drink that's popular in New Orleans. Mushroom coffee, on the other hand, is made with mushroom extract to add health benefits to the coffee beans it's mixed with. Both are niche drinks often consumed as a basic coffee alternative and were developed when pure coffee was scarce.
Types of Mushroom Coffee
Each company makes its mushroom coffee a little different but the components remain standard. There's ground mushroom coffee, which is ground coffee beans mixed with mushroom extract. This gets brewed like any normal pre-ground coffee would—in an automatic pot or using the pour-over method. The other type of mushroom coffee is instant powder. This gets mixed with boiling water and stirred until smooth. Some companies add other flavors and milk powder to their mixes to create a cafe-style drink.
Most people won't experience side effects with mushroom coffee unless they drink so much of it that they experience the negative effects of caffeine. People with kidney disease may want to check how much chaga mushrooms are in the coffee. This particular mushroom is high in oxalates, which can cause kidney stones for those sensitive to kidney problems. Not all mushroom coffee brands use chaga, so it's best to consult the ingredient list if this is something to personally avoid.
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