You may have heard a bit of buzz recently about mushroom coffee. You probably heard about it on a podcast, or read about it on a health and wellness website. You may even have seen it for sale locally. But what is mushroom coffee? Should you drink it? And how do you make it?
What is Mushroom Coffee?
Mushroom coffee, very simply, is ground coffee with mushroom powders added. It’s a way to add the nutritional benefits of medicinal mushrooms to your diet, combining it with a daily habit that a lot of us already have; your morning cup of coffee. Different brands of mushroom coffee will contain different mushrooms and different ratios of mushroom to coffee, and they may make a variety of health claims.
Benefits of Mushroom Coffee
There are a few benefits to drinking mushroom coffee.
Perhaps the most straightforward benefit is that it reduces the overall amount of caffeine in your morning cup. The bulk of the mushroom powders contains no caffeine, so your cup of mushroom coffee may have as much as half the amount of caffeine found in regular coffee. A cup or two of regular coffee in the morning doesn’t have enough caffeine to be a problem for most of us, but for those who are sensitive to caffeine or who are limiting their intake for other reasons, this may mean that they can enjoy their coffee in the morning worry-free!
But the primary reason for adding mushroom powders to your coffee is to get the nutritional benefits of these mushrooms! Mushrooms contain vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, carotenoids, and polysaccharides that can be beneficial to your health. The vitamins and minerals may seem pretty straightforward, but what are these other compounds?
Polyphenols and carotenoids are antioxidant compounds that are thought to promote health. Polyphenols can help reduce inflammation and support immune function. Carotenoids also can help prevent Vitamin A deficiency when included in your diet. Both of these types of compounds are only available in plant-based (or fungus-based!) foods.
Polysaccharides are the complex carbohydrates that your doctor or nutritionist wants you to eat more of! They provide food for beneficial gut flora, and those flora break down these complex carbohydrates so that you can get the nutritional benefits as well!
It’s important to note that while these medicinal mushrooms have been used by humans for centuries, often in teas, there’s very little scientific study on their effects in the human body. We don’t always know, for example, whether they’re appropriate for use by pregnant people or whether they interact with certain medications. Always consult your doctor before trying a new health supplement.
Types of Mushrooms used in Mushroom Coffee
From left to right: Chaga, Reishi, Shiitake, and Lion's Mane mushroom powders
Many different kinds of mushrooms and fungi can be used in coffee, but there are a few that are used for specific nutritional benefits.
Reishi is a medicinal mushroom that has been used by humans for thousands of years. There are a lot of health claims made regarding the noble reishi, but one of the most well-supported is its use in reducing depression and anxiety.
In addition to being rich in polysaccharides, which on their own are health-promoting, the lion’s mane mushroom may also have neuroprotective elements. It may protect against forms of dementia, and improve memory and cognition. However, most studies have been performed on animals or in a lab setting, and more research is needed.
Chaga appears as a black mass on trees, and may be mistaken for a burnt area. The chaga mushroom has been used medicinally in eastern Europe for centuries. Studies in mice demonstrate a correlation between chaga consumption and lower blood sugar and reduced insulin resistance. However, because chaga is high in oxalates, you may want to limit usage. Consumption of oxalates is linked to kidney stone formation.
Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom that contains a wealth of antioxidants, such as flavonoids and phenols. Antioxidants are an important part of a healthy diet. Additionally studies in mice and in a lab setting demonstrate possible immune boosting effects, but more research is needed to confirm those findings.
Allergic reactions are possible with any of these mushrooms. Discontinue use immediately if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction or any other adverse health effects.
Why Make Your Own?
One of the simplest reasons to make your own mushroom coffee is because buying it is expensive. Mushroom coffees can cost twice as much as a 12 ounce bag of regular coffee.
You can also control the quality of the ingredients. Some commercially produced mushroom coffees use ground myceliated grain, the grain that the mushrooms were grown on, rather than the ground fruiting bodies of the mushroom. The fruiting bodies contain more of the bioactive compounds than the mycelium. You can even buy (or grow!) some of these mushrooms on your own to make sure they’re the highest quality possible! We offer kits for growing both reishi and lion’s mane mushrooms, as well as organic reishi antlers.
You can also choose which mushrooms you want to include in your coffee. If you want to avoid the oxalates present in chaga, you can exclude that from your brew.
How to Make It
The first part of making your mushroom coffee is to get your mushrooms! You can buy them as mushroom powder, the dehydrated fruiting bodies ground into a powder, or you can get some of these mushrooms and dehydrate and grind them yourself. We have instructions on drying reishi mushrooms on our blog.
Mushroom coffee blends are typically half mushroom powder and half ground coffee. If you make your own, you can brew it with your favorite kind of coffee. If using whole bean coffee, store your beans and your mushroom powder separately and mix when you grind your coffee for brewing. Mushroom powders should be stored away from light, in an airtight container.
How to Brew It
You can brew mushroom coffee just as you brew your morning coffee! You can use a percolator, a pour over setup, even a french press. You use the same amount of ground coffee (mixed with your mushroom powder) as you would with normal coffee, the same filters, everything! The only extra step is adding the mushroom powder.
Some of these medicinal mushrooms have a bitter taste that complements coffee, and some have a subtle, earthy flavor. You can adjust your mix of mushrooms to get the flavor you want, and add cream and sugar if you want.
So take a moment in the morning to drink your mushrooms! Regardless of any extraordinary health claims, you are still getting the nutritional benefits of all those vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polysaccharides. And you’re doing it so easily you won’t even notice that it’s a health promoting habit!