Medicinal, or functional, mushrooms have long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine because of the healing and health benefits they hold. Fast-forward a few centuries, and mushrooms are still being used—but these days, it’s not uncommon to find them in coffee and other beverages.
Mushrooms may not immediately come to mind when you think of coffee, but it’s actually not a new concept. In Finland, mushrooms were commonly used as a coffee substitute during World War II when there was a shortage of beans. And now, more and more brands are combining the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms with the energy boost of coffee.
What is mushroom coffee?
“Mushroom coffee is simply ground coffee that is blended with adaptogenic mushroom extracts,” explains Erica Huss, cofounder of Earth & Star: a functional mushroom brand offering beverages, chocolates, and tinctures. These aren’t your regular run-of-the-mill chanterelles, either. Mushrooms such as cordyceps, lion’s mane, chaga, and reishi are adaptogenic, which means they help your body adapt to change and stressful situations.
What are the benefits of mushroom coffee?
The most prolific benefit of functional mushrooms is that they support the immune system. “Mushrooms provide some of the most powerful immune support that exists in nature, so a regular cup of coffee becomes a powerful defender against illness and fatigue,” notes Huss. “And beyond that, a potent blend of adaptogens also promotes better sleep, improved gut health, and even a boost for the libido.”
Adaptogenic mushrooms are also anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. Plus, they are rich in antioxidants and nutrients, and also support liver function and cholesterol levels. Research has shown that adaptogenic mushrooms help our bodies adapt to stress by supporting our adrenal glands, which are responsible for balancing hormones and regulating metabolism, energy levels, emotions, and brain function.
Huss describes the combination of coffee and functional mushrooms as providing “mental focus and balanced energy, thanks to the adaptogen blend. Coffee infused with adaptogenic mushroom extracts delivers the same boost as your regular morning brew, plus cognitive support without the typical crash or jitters associated with coffee.”
How to drink mushroom coffee
There’s no right way to consume mushroom coffee; the beauty of it is that you can have it any way you like. “It can be served morning or afternoon, hot or cold, with or without milk, and with any flavors or sweeteners preferred,” says Huss. “Whether you prepare a hot mocha or iced oat milk latte, you will still reap the amazing benefits and have a delicious cup of coffee.”
What does mushroom coffee taste like?
If you don’t find the taste of mushrooms palatable, you’re in luck. With mushroom coffee, you get all the benefits of those hard-working plants without the earthy flavor. “Earth & Star’s coffee simply tastes like a delicious cup of morning joe,” Huss says. “No shroomy taste whatsoever.”
How is mushroom coffee made?
Huss explains that “in high-quality mushroom coffee like Earth & Star, the fruiting bodies—the actual mushroom, not the root structure known as mycelium—of adaptogenic mushrooms are dual-extracted and ground into a powder, and then mixed with ground coffee.”
Brands like Earth & Star and Taika offer convenient ready-to-drink options, but if you prefer to brew it yourself, the prep is no different than how you would make your regular cup of joe. If you want to opt for ground coffee, Four Sigmatic offers a variety of options.
What other types of mushroom drinks are there?
If coffee’s not your preference, there are also other beverages that incorporate adaptogenic mushrooms. Taika offers alternatives like a matcha latte, while Mud/Wtr offers teas like masala and rooibos.
No matter the beverage, they all have one thing in common: they contain some form of ground adaptogenic mushrooms or extracts that give your daily pick-me-up an extra health boost.