What is it, benefits, side effects

Iryna VeklichGetty Images

Add a splash of oat milk or a sprinkle of cinnamon to your coffee and no one will bat an eyelid. But tell a friend you’re incorporating mushrooms into your cup of coffee and she might frown.

Making mushroom coffee doesn’t mean dunking a portobello in your cup. And don’t stumble – mushroom coffee also does not contain psychedelic mushrooms. Mushroom coffee is usually made from a mixture of ground mushroom powder and coffee beans. Increasingly, you can buy the powder online and in grocery stores, and even some cafes in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami have started offering mushroom coffee.

While coffee is inherently healthy, mushroom coffee has its own unique benefits and is becoming a popular way to reduce caffeine. Even without so much buzz, there’s a lot to love about this trending drink.

What is Mushroom Coffee?

According to registered dietitian and clinical herbalist Jenna Volpe, RDN, CLT, mushroom coffee is a term used to describe certain types of coffee or coffee substitutes made with dried, powdered, or pre-extracted adaptogenic mushrooms.

Adaptogenic mushrooms are herbs that, taken regularly, can help the body adapt to stress. Volpe explains that mushroom coffee is made from adaptogenic mushrooms, including reishi, cordyceps, chaga, turkey tail, and lion’s mane. The mushroom coffee product you are looking for may include one, some, or all of these types of mushrooms.

While the concept of mushroom coffee has only started to become popular in the United States in recent years, adaptogenic mushrooms have been used for centuries as part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In TCM, consuming adaptogenic mushrooms in drink form has long been a way to reap their many benefits.

The modern mushroom coffee movement is believed to have originated in Finland during World War II, when coffee beans were not available. “The first commercial brand of mushroom coffee was Four Sigmatic,” Volpe explains. It may not be a coincidence that the brand’s founders, Tero Isokauppila and Mikko Revonniemi, are Finnish-American. Four Sigmatic may have been the first mushroom coffee brand to catch on, but it certainly won’t be the last. Today, there are dozens of brands selling mushroom coffee.

How does mushroom coffee compare to traditional coffee?

How you make mushroom coffee depends on the type you buy, so it’s important to read product-specific instructions. Some mushroom coffees are brewed just like traditional coffee. Others are more like tea, mixing the powder with hot water. There are even mushroom coffees in K-cup form.

Volpe explains that some mushroom coffees are a combination of traditional coffee and mushrooms while others are just mushrooms. As you can imagine, in both cases, adding mushrooms to the mix affects the taste. Much like the mushrooms you’re used to buying from the produce section, adaptogenic mushrooms have an earthy taste, which may be off-putting to some. Some brands add chocolate, vanilla, or other flavors to their mushroom coffees to sweeten the taste.

Besides the taste, another difference between mushroom coffee and traditional coffee is the amount of caffeine. “Since coffee beans are the only source of caffeine in mushroom coffee, cutting ground coffee with adaptogenic mushrooms will reduce the caffeine content,” Volpe says.

She explains that the exact amount of caffeine in mushroom coffee varies depending on the ratio of mushrooms to coffee beans in the product. According to her, what’s most common is for brands to brew mushroom coffee with 50% less caffeine than a traditional cup of coffee. “Other types of mushroom coffee on the market are made with 100% herbs, serving as a caffeine-free alternative to coffee,” Volpe explains.

The reduced amount of caffeine in mushroom coffee is one of the reasons many people seek it out. The other reason is the specific health benefits of the mushrooms themselves.

What are the health benefits of mushroom coffee?

  1. It contains less caffeine, if at all. As mentioned earlier, mushroom coffee contains less caffeine – and some do not. This means that if traditional coffee makes you nervous or interferes with your sleep, mushroom coffee can be a good substitute. Also, if you’re trying to cut ties with coffee but can’t make a cold turkey, it can be used as a transition drink.
  2. Mushroom coffee can help the body deal with stress. By definition, adaptogenic mushrooms are known to help the body deal with stress. (There are other adaptogenic herbs besides mushrooms that also work in the same way, including ashwagandha and schizandra berry.) Adaptogenic herbs balance the body by increasing or decreasing chemical reactions in the body.
  3. It supports the immune system. “Mushroom coffee is well known for its ability to help improve immunity,” says Volpe. This is because the biocompounds in mushrooms help reduce inflammation and high levels of inflammation can lead to disease.
  4. Mushroom coffee may help protect against chronic disease. The anti-inflammatory properties of the mushrooms in mushroom coffee aren’t just beneficial for keeping immune health in tip-top shape. Volpe says they may also help protect against chronic diseases, as these conditions are caused by chronically high levels of inflammation. “Adaptogenic mushrooms are being studied in integrative oncology for their potential role in cancer treatment,” she says. More research needs to be done to see exactly how the adaptogenic mushrooms in mushroom coffee can be used in this way.
  5. Mushroom coffee can help you focus. One of the reasons traditional coffee is loved is that it helps with focus and concentration. If your mushroom coffee contains lion’s mane – or if lion’s mane is used instead of coffee beans – you will also get this benefit. In fact, this particular mushroom is currently being studied as a means of protection against cognitive diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

    Are there any risks or side effects to be aware of?

    While mushroom coffee is widely known to be safe, Volpe says if you have a medical condition or are taking medication, it’s best to speak with your doctor before trying it. Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is best to avoid mushroom coffee, as adaptogenic herbs have not been declared safe for these people.

    As with any food, there is always a risk of sensitivity or allergic reaction. For this reason, if you’ve never tried mushroom coffee before, start with a very small amount — a quarter of the recommended serving size — to ensure you don’t get a bad reaction.

    If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, Volpe says this might not be the right drink for you. “All types of mushrooms are considered high in FODMAPs, so if someone with IBS or a known mushroom intolerance consumes a coffee alternative that contains powdered mushrooms, they may be prone to a flare-up,” says -she. Overall, mushroom coffee is loaded with health benefits and may even help you cut down on your caffeine intake (if you’re looking to do so).

    Ready to try? Here are four mushroom coffee brands on Amazon that are worth checking out:

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and uploaded to this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content on piano.io

    Comments are closed.