Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
Have you heard of mushroom coffee? The flavor combination doesn’t sound delicious, I know. But these aren’t the mushrooms you eat on pizza or in stroganoff. These are medicinal mushrooms, also called functional mushrooms.
Mushroom coffees are great lower-caffeine or caffeine-free alternative to regular coffee. Plus they can help you deal with stress and improve your immune response. Here are the mushrooms used, their health benefits, and how to find the best mushroom coffee.
What is Mushroom Coffee?
Mushroom coffee is essentially freeze-dried ground mushrooms blended with ground coffee, tea, or other herbs. (Chaga Chai is one example of mushrooms with tea). Because the mushrooms make up part of the coffee beans, mushroom coffee naturally has less caffeine. Just like regular coffee, you can find it as a medium roast or dark roast. You can also find it made with decaf coffee if you’re looking for the coffee taste without the jitters.
Some companies don’t use actual coffee beans at all. Instead, they’ll use herbal coffee substitutes, like chicory root, dandelion root, or burdock root. These roots have the earthy taste of coffee and come with their own health benefits, like supporting liver detoxification.
Some brands will also add mushroom extracts to increase the dose of these powerful fungi in each brewed cup. Another way companies enhance the mushroom coffee is to add other energy-boosting ingredients to the blend. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha or Rhodiola can support the body’s ability to handle stress.
Cacao adds antioxidant power as well as a delicious mocha flavor. Cinnamon is helpful for blood sugar support and adds a little zip to the taste. Still, medicinal mushrooms are the star ingredients.
Mushrooms Included in Mushroom Coffee
These are some of the types of mushrooms you’ll find in mushroom coffee:
Chaga mushrooms grow on the sides of certain deciduous trees. You’ll mainly find them on birch trees, but they also grow on ash and maple trees. This mushroom is sometimes referred to as the “king of mushrooms.” It’s known for its positive effects on inflammation, energy and endurance, brain function, and the immune system. I can always use more of that in the mornings!
There are a few things to consider before trying chaga though. Since it’s high in oxalates it can cause kidney problems in large amounts for certain people. There’s also some evidence it may interact with blood thinner medications. And because it reduces blood sugar, it can cause too low of a blood sugar dip for those on diabetic meds. If you’re on medications be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before trying chaga.
Cordyceps mushrooms are well-known adaptogenic mushrooms that grow on caterpillars. Yes, you read that right! These mushrooms are a caterpillar fungi. They’ve long been known in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for their powerful health benefits. Studies have shown show positive effects on inflammation and the immune system. Scientists have also found that cordyceps support thyroid function, liver function, and a healthy metabolism.
Cordyceps might increase bleeding risk in certain people when taken in large amounts. If you’re scheduled for surgery you’ll want to stop taking cordyceps 2 weeks beforehand. And as with most things, if you eat a whole lot of it cordyceps can cause some digestive issues.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are more than just an adaptogen. They also serve as nootropics, positively impacting cognitive function. Studies show it supports memory, a positive mood, a healthy metabolism, and a balanced immune response. Lion’s mane can also assist the body in repairing nerves!
Mushroom powder with lion’s mane more than makes up for the lack of caffeine content, as it powerfully supports the brain.
Maitake mushrooms are also called “Hen of the Woods.” While they originate in China, you can also find them growing in the woods here in the United States. Some health benefits of maitake include improving blood sugar levels and supporting the immune system. It’s also heart-healthy, as it promotes balanced cholesterol levels.
Because maitake is so great at lowering blood sugar levels, it can lower blood sugar too much if used alongside blood sugar lowering meds. In one person taking blood thinners, maitake caused blood to clot too slowly. This is another one to use with caution if you’re on these medications.
Reishi mushroom is called the “queen of mushrooms” in TCM. It’s known for supporting the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. It also promotes balanced hormones in women and a healthy immune response. It may also support restful sleep, a healthy weight, and help us age gracefully.
Shiitake mushrooms are also used in traditional Asian medicine. They’re commonly used in soups but also serve as health tonics. They’re traditionally recommended for supporting a healthy immune system and circulatory system.
Research has since found they support secretory immunoglobulin A production. That’s a sign they improve gut immunity. Consuming shiitake mushrooms regularly also lowered C-reactive protein values, showing reduced inflammation.
Turkey Tail mushrooms are colorful mushrooms that resemble turkey plumage. These mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, which help lower inflammation in the body. They also have compounds that regulate the immune response and protect against pathogens. The prebiotics in turkey tail mushrooms help support a good balance of bacteria in the gut, which has many health benefits.
Why Drink Mushroom Coffee?
Why would you want to give up regular coffee and drink a mushroom-based one? For one, trading your morning cup of Joe for a mushroom coffee can help you avoid the jitters. And, as we just touched on, mushroom coffees deliver quite the list of potential health benefits:
What’s not to love? In general, mushroom coffee has a lot of benefits and no real drawbacks. You can even indulge in a variety by trying different blends. It’s just a matter of finding a good mushroom coffee you can look forward to sipping each morning.
How to Spot a Good Mushroom Coffee
When shopping for mushroom coffee, here are some things you’ll want to look for:
- Organic coffee
- Arabica coffee beans (they’re healthier and less bitter than Robusta beans)
- Organic or wildcrafted mushrooms
- Organic or wildcrafted herbs
- The mushroom fruiting body, not the mycelium (mushroom roots)
- Grown on trees (logs), not on grains
- Dual extraction (water and alcohol) to get all the benefits
- No gums, oils, or fillers
- No “natural flavors”
- Zero grams of sugar
Some mushroom coffee brands you may have heard of include Mud/Wtr, RYZE Superfood, Rheal Shroom, and Four Sigmatic. I use Four Sigmatic because they check off all the requirements listed above. Plus, I really love the taste of their products. I enjoy their mushroom coffees, but we love their hot chocolate (Mushroom Cacao Mix) or Golden Latte Mix, too!
I’m not alone in thinking Four Sigmatic has the best flavor. In Rolling Stone’s review of the Best-Tasting Mushroom Coffees of 2023, Four Sigmatic won for the “Best tasting” brand. There you have it: Rollings Stones magazine agrees. Learn more about Four Sigmatic and their founder, Tero Isokauppila by listening to my podcast interview with him.
How to Enjoy Mushroom Coffee
Mushroom coffee is an excellent replacement for regular coffee. You can find it as regular ground coffee or as an instant mushroom coffee. The mushroom coffee packets are great to throw in a purse or laptop case to take on the go. All you need is a cup of hot water and a spoon and you have an energy boost without the side effects of caffeine.
Ground mushroom coffee can be prepared in the same way as regular coffee grounds. You may need to make a finer grind to use it in an espresso machine, but otherwise, you can make lattes, mochas, or a regular brewed cup of coffee. Add your favorite creamer and/or sweetener, and you won’t even miss your old cup of java.
Depending on what you add, mushroom coffee can be a great keto option for breakfast time or as an afternoon pick-me-up.
Bottom Line on Mushroom Coffee
Mushroom coffees can support your overall wellness in several ways. First, they can help you reduce or get off of caffeine. They also provide incredible superfoods in your morning cup of Joe and support a non-inflammatory lifestyle. Since inflammation is tied to all chronic conditions, it’s important to have healthy habits that keep inflammation in check. Beginning each day with a cup of mushroom coffee is a great start!
What’s your favorite coffee alternative? Have you tried a mushroom coffee blend? Share with us below!