There’s been a new craze in the coffee world lately, and it’s not the type of mushroom you normally eat.
Mushroom coffee is a new high—no, not that type of high—in the coffee industry that’s been driving hipsters and coffee connoisseurs around the block. What is mushroom coffee? Is it safe to drink? Does it have any benefits?
We’ll answer all your questions, and more, in the article below.
What is Coffee?
Alright, before you skim this section, we’re going to have to establish what coffee is. While that might seem obvious to some of you, the basics of coffee is not common knowledge.
For one, a coffee bean is actually not a bean. What? Yeah, talk about marketing.
Coffee beans are the seeds of coffee cherries. These seeds are found when you remove the outer layers of the cherry, revealing two seeds inside. It takes a coffee tree three to four years before bearing fruit for the first time. Once it starts to bear fruit, a major harvest is typically done once a year.
The seeds from the coffee cherries are dried and roasted, which becomes the coffee beans you all know and love.
What is Mushroom Coffee?
So, what is mushroom coffee and why is it a craze?
Here’s the short answer: it’s healthier.
Coffee by itself together with caffeine has a lot of side effects. Those of you who drink coffee daily may not feel most of these side effects as much, but in a couple of years it will begin to take its toll on your body.
Negative side effects can range from:
- Increase in blood pressure
- Muscle tremors
- Heightened anxiety
Just to name a few. These negative effects become much more apparent in your late thirties to early forties. However, it’s not all black. Coffee is also known to reduce stroke, improve cognitive ability, and is the most commonly used antioxidant in American households.
That being said, here are a few things that mushroom coffee does better than regular coffee.
Mushroom Coffee Benefits
Mushroom coffee is an excellent way to drink the same amount of coffee every day without all the negative side effects. Not only does it taste good, but mushrooms itself have a lot of vitamins and healthy properties.
Here’s a short list of the general benefits of mushroom coffee:
- Better sleep
- Boosts your immune system
- Supports your memory
- Relaxes sore muscles and reduces inflammation
- Better bowel movement
Now, some articles out there might claim that mushroom coffee reduces anxiety, strengthens your memory, and even reduces stress. The reduction of anxiety most likely comes from the lack of caffeine (mushroom powder replaces half the caffeine in normal coffee), making you less nervous and anxious. However, in terms of strengthening your memory, you’ll want to take that health benefit with a grain of salt.
The research behind mushroom coffee is very scarce, so there’s not a lot to back up this comment and the other health claims that are supposedly linked to mushrooms.
The Debacle Behind Mushroom Coffee
Like all trends out in 2021, there’s always a debacle to be made against the newest thing.
Thankfully for mushroom coffee, there’s not a lot against the trend.
Eating your Mushrooms
The most glaring alternative opinion to mushroom coffee is the general consensus that you can get the same benefits from mushroom coffee, just by eating mushrooms on a regular basis.
That way, not only do you save on calories by biting on a mushroom instead of just sipping it, but it also adds variety to your meals. Likewise however, the general consensus against that argument is also “what if I don’t like eating mushrooms?”
Well, in that case, at least you’re getting the same benefits by chugging it down your throat in the form of coffee.
Controversial Lab Tests
The research behind mushroom benefits is very much entirely pioneered by the companies behind mushroom coffee. With that in mind, almost every study should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when selling a “healthy alternative” is a brand’s slogan.
Of course, not all results are bad. Some mushrooms have been tested for decades, even before the coffee craze, and are generally healthy for you. But, some companies do overstate and exaggerate the benefits of mushroom coffee—so keep that in mind.
Mushroom Coffee: Manufacturing
How do you make mushroom coffee? While the process itself is not that complicated, the entire flow from mushroom to mushroom powder is very fascinating.
First, the mushrooms go through a drying process where every liquid is extracted from the fungus, making it drier than most Tinder conversations. After that, the mushrooms are generally dry enough to just blend—turning into a fine powder.
Other homemade alternatives include making tea with the mushroom and mixing that mushroom-water with the coffee instead.
The Different Types of Mushroom Coffee
Before we go into other scientific details about mushroom coffee, let’s take a creative break and look through the different varieties of this new trend. First off, there’s a ton of mushrooms in the market, so which one makes a suitable coffee blend?
The Right Type of Mushroom
While we would have loved to tell you about all the types of mushrooms that you can pick from the supermarket for mushroom coffee, it’s unfortunately not that simple. Although there are a lot of nuances to mushroom coffee, it seems like only four main types of mushrooms make the list to international popularity.
Reish mushrooms, otherwise known as lingzhi mushrooms, are centuries old when it comes to Eastern medicine. It’s been used for over 2,000 years at least and is ubiquitous around Asian countries.
When it comes to coffee, reishi’s benefits typically involve the heart. It decreases blood pressure and elevates the activity of white blood cells, thereby making your immune system healthier.
As for scientific claims, reishi mushrooms have the advantage of going through multiple case studies by scientists over decades of research. Even before it became an additive to coffee, reishi mushrooms were tested on rats—with results pointing to decreased blood pressure.
There’s definitely a lot of evidence for the health benefits of reishi mushrooms. Without getting too scientific, you can pick up a bag of reishi-infused coffee or hot chocolate powder on almost any supermarket store.
Still on the topic of famous mushrooms, we’ve got the chaga. This type of mushroom is parasitic and grows on trees across the Northern Hemisphere, particularly on birch. If you’re thinking of taking a hike out to look for some yourself, chaga mushrooms look more like dirt than fungi.
They don’t taste as bad as they look though! Chaga mushrooms offer a lot of vitamins and antioxidants for the human body. These mushrooms have been known to reduce cholesterol, combat arthritis, and notably to decrease inflammation.
According to laboratory tests, chaga mushrooms may help slow the growth of some cancer cells—also, making tumour cells self-destruct. Feel free to take this with a grain of salt, but the antioxidant properties of these mushrooms help clean the body, so the science doesn’t seem too far off.
Chaga mushrooms are better off as drinks rather than food or supplements. Due to the fact that the chaga mushroom is easier to absorb by your intestines as a drink, chaga teas and coffees are easily one of the most famous mushroom beverages on the market.
Next up, we’ve got the lion’s mane mushroom. You’ll find these hairy fungi native to Europe, North America, and Asia. So, basically almost everywhere around the world.
Although it’s widely available for everyone, it’s more commonly utilized as an eaten dish rather than a drink—especially in Asian cultures. However, for those of you who find themselves more irritable and nervous these days, here’s the good news.
Lion’s mane is usually the mushroom that everyone points to when they mention anxiety and tension reduction. As far as we’ve searched though, these claims are almost purely anecdotal and are not backed by concrete scientific evidence.
But that doesn’t take away the magic of how this mushroom has improved the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Lion’s mane has a fish-like taste, but it’s usually overpowered and completely unnoticeable when brewed together with coffee.
Last but not the least. You’re probably familiar with cordyceps if you’re the type to get into the zombie genre of movies. Well, cordyceps are a very common theme when it comes to zombie infection, but adding this to your coffee will ironically make you feel much more alive.
First off, there are over 400 different types of cordyceps in the wild. Although they’re an incredibly diverse family of fungi, cordyceps are hard to find—making wild cordyceps quite pricey.
This is another one of those mushrooms that have been used for centuries to treat illnesses in Eastern communities. Though for a much more modern update, cordyceps are used for health issues like diabetes and heart health.
More than just an additive for coffee, you can use cordyceps powder together with protein shakes and smoothies. But, let’s be honest, if you’re reading about mushroom coffee, then caffeine is probably the only thing on your mind.
Joe Rogan Mushroom Coffee
Coincidentally, you and Joe Rogan have the same thoughts!
The famous mixed martial arts and podcast host has been privy to mushroom coffee and has tried a couple of brands off the shelf. A notable mushroom-related experience on Joe’s portfolio is when he interviewed Paul Stamets.
Paul is an American mycologist and proud owner of Fungi.com, an avid advocate for mushrooms. Medicinal fungi is nothing new for the Eastern audience, but the Western Hemisphere has much to be educated on about.
In the podcast, you’ll find a 2-hour conversation between Joe and Paul about all types of mushrooms and their health benefits. One that was mentioned in this article is the lion’s mane mushroom, which Paul explains is beneficial against muscular dystrophy.
Tim Ferriss Mushroom Coffee
The author of the 4-hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss, is also an avid consumer of lion’s mane mushroom coffee. In an episode for his YouTube channel nearly five years ago, Tim mentions lion’s mane as part of his “smart drugs”.
He recommends half the dose of mushroom coffee for new drinkers, and he himself only takes it twice a week—whenever he feels like he needs to focus or have that extra cognitive advantage.
Here’s the full video of Tim talking about all the supplements he takes to improve his lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mushroom Coffee
Is mushroom coffee healthy?
Mushroom coffee is healthy, especially compared to normal coffee. The added benefit of vitamins and antioxidants that come from mushrooms add a lot of value to your immune system. Furthermore, some mushrooms also provide extra health benefits against autoimmune diseases like muscle dystrophia.
What is mushroom coffee made of?
Mushroom coffee is simply mushroom powder and dried, grounded, and powdered mushrooms. The mushroom powder is extracted from natural mushrooms that have been dehydrated and blended into a powder.
Is mushroom coffee legit?
The mushroom coffee craze has been subject to numerous promises. This includes a lot of laboratory tests, which have not been recreated enough times to produce concrete evidence for the health benefits it claims to have. Considering that most of these laboratory studies are made by the companies that sell mushroom coffee, we suggest taking these with a grain of salt.
A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
All in all, mushrooms have a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. That much is certain. However, all the added health benefits, like fighting off alzheimer’s, cancer cells, and other health claims have little credibility when it comes to a scientific consensus. It’s a healthy alternative to coffee, but it’s not the cure-all for every disease.