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Apr 14, 2023
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Mushrooms (no, not that kind) have been part of medicinal practices in places like China and India for millennia. Western devotees of alternative medicine have much more recently seized on their potential health benefits, which are said to include reducing stress and strengthening the immune system. One of the more popular delivery systems is mushroom coffee, a blend of coffee and powdered mushrooms that's a lot more appealing than a handful of dried fungi.
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Like other trendy ingredients that promise certain health benefits, there's not much scientific evidence that supports that those benefits actually exist in mushrooms. What is inarguable is that mushrooms are chock-full of antioxidants, and antioxidants can help aid immune function. What's less clear, per the Cleveland Clinic, is whether those benefits endure through the extraction, powdering, and processes necessary for a cup of mushroom coffee.
In other words, mushroom coffee isn't a miracle cure, but there are people who swear by it for easing achy joints or helping with sleep. Considering trying a cup? Here's what you need to know.
Jennifer Pallian, a registered dietician and trained barista, lauds the distinct taste that blends the roasted flavor of coffee beans with the mild earthiness of mushrooms: "While its taste may not be for everyone, its proponents rave about its unique and rich flavor," she says. If you love eating mushrooms, in other words, you can find a mushroom coffee that integrates the two flavors rather than using the coffee to mask the fungi.
Like Pallian, coffee expert Tim Lee is quick to point out that the claims of mushroom coffee proponents (namely immune system support, energy level improvement, and cognitive function enhancement) are just that: claims. He does point out that some mushroom coffees are made with a high enough mushroom-to-coffee ratio to have lower caffeine levels than traditional coffee, making mushroom coffee a simple way to reduce your caffeine consumption without resorting to decaf.
Legendary big wave surfer Laird Hamilton's side gig is a company that makes coffees, creamers, protein bars, and drink mixes laced with superfoods. That includes this medium-roast mushroom coffee, which combines an organic blend of chaga, lion's mane, and cordyceps mushroom extracts with Arabica coffee.
The one caveat is that this coffee doesn't come in a whole bean version, presumably so that the powdered mushrooms are integrated into the product more seamlessly.
BEST DARK ROAST
If you prefer dark roast, this blend from Four Sigmatic combines organic coffee with lion's mane and chaga mushrooms. The flavor of the coffee has notes of dark chocolate and nuts, and it's strong enough to mask the mushrooms. If you’re interested in the potential health benefits and not the taste of mushrooms, these are the grounds for you.
Each of the dozen sachets in this package contains enough organic freeze-dried fair-trade coffee and lion's mane, reishi, chaga, and cordyceps mushroom extracts to brew an 8-ounce cup. The individual dosing makes it dead simple to make, and it's also very convenient to keep one stashed in your car or bag for when you want a cup of mushroom coffee while out and about.
BEST COLD BREW
Cold coffee lovers can take part in the mushroom coffee trend with these 12-ounce, ready-to-drink bottles made in southern California (because of course they are). Lion's mane, cordyceps, and turkey tail mushrooms are paired with coffees from Papua New Guinea and Guatemala for a taste that's at once smooth and earthy.
Price: $28.00 - $57.00
Unlike most of the other products on this list, this powdered latte is more than just coffee and mushrooms. Oat milk and coconut cream powders, monk fruit extract, instant coffee, salt, three mushroom extracts, salt, and a probiotic are all present and accounted for, too. Simply add water, stir as violently as you’d like — bonus points if you use a frother — and you’re left with a sort of healthy instant latte.
The idea behind the brand was reducing the spikes of drinking coffee and sugar, which is why it has just 1/7 of the caffeine of a cup of coffee and zero sugar per serving. That being said, it also tastes good simply added to a cup of coffee if you’re not looking to give up your habit. Chaga, lion's mane, reishi, and cordyceps mushrooms come together with masala chai, turmeric, cinnamon, and sea salt for a flavor that's both spicy and earthy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mushroom Coffee
Is mushroom coffee good for you?
The short answer is: who knows? Mushrooms do have ingredients that can do things like reduce inflammation, but whether those benefits endure through their processing into mushroom coffee is up in the air. Lee calls the health claims of mushroom coffee a "marketing stunt…not strongly backed by research," but it does seem that mushroom coffee, at minimum, isn't any worse for you than the regular stuff.
What does mushroom coffee taste like?
Some mushroom coffees are made to mask the taste of mushrooms while others embrace it. Your best bet is to read the descriptions of mushroom coffees provided by the manufacturers, though you shouldn't be surprised if it takes some trial by error to find a mushroom coffee that suits your taste buds.
What kind of man drinks mushroom coffee?
Mushroom coffee hits a peculiar set of cultural buttons and can appeal to everyone from optimization junkies who’ve read too many Silicon Valley self-help books to laid-back naturalists convinced that plants can cure cancer.
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