Coffee is the world’s most beloved and popular psychoactive drug. According to one recent account, 64% of adults consume coffee every day, and it doesn’t seem to be decreasing in our modern, hyper-productive culture. What better way to consume it than adding nutrient-dense, functional mushrooms to the brew?
One of the rising stars in the functional beverage world, mushroom coffee is a great tasting and nutritious way to consume your morning cup of joe. In this article, we will explore many of the health benefits mushroom coffee, its advantages compared to regular coffee, and some of the most highly recommended mushroom coffee brands.
Mushroom coffee is regular coffee with an infusion of powerful and healthy medicinal mushrooms. Mushroom coffee balances out the worst aspects of normal coffee while providing even more nutrition and health-promoting bioactives not found in a regular cup of coffee. The concoction provides all the health benefits of coffee plus much more!
The mushrooms found in mushroom coffee are classified as adaptogens. Adaptogenic mushrooms have long been consumed in human history and, as the name implies, help us adapt by providing us non-specific resistance to stress. The effects of the bioactive ingredients found in the medicinal mushrooms used in mushroom coffee are wide-ranging and unique to each individual, helping to renormalize many bodily processes that may be out of balance.
Adaptogens work by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympatho-adrenergic system. When these go haywire, you can suffer from adrenal fatigue, chronic stress, autoimmune conditions or affective disorders like anxiety. Adaptogenic mushrooms help to normalize hormones and physiological responses to stress by supporting the optimal functioning of the immune system, digestive system, nervous system, liver, and kidneys. Therefore, on top of the many benefits coffee provides, the mushroom extracts found in the blend can support healthy immune function, nervous system health, digestion, and boost energy levels
Another great feature of the adaptogenic properties of mushroom coffee is that it can help to eliminate the jittery side effects and over-stimulation that regular coffee can sometimes create. The “smoother” energy of mushroom coffee can last you well into the day and help to reduce the negative sympathetic effects of regular coffee, including nervousness, restlessness, increased heart rate, and heightened blood pressure.
Caffeine increases adrenaline levels and blocks adenosine, a chemical in the brain that makes us feel sleepy when it builds up over the day. As a result, we feel more alert and, when consumed later in the day, this may affect sleep quality and quantity. Since caffeine has a long half-life of 5-6 hours (the time it takes for half of the amount of the drug to be excreted from the body), it can disrupt our circadian rhythms and make it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. Mushroom coffee commonly contains reishi, a widely studied adaptogenic mushroom well-known in China as a food of longevity and spirituality. It helps to reduce stress and support restful sleep by supporting healthy sleep cycles. As an added bonus, many mushroom coffee suppliers also include Rhodiola Rosea, an adaptogenic herb that has anti-anxiety and sleep-promoting properties.
Mushroom coffee contains many polysaccharides and prebiotic fiber that can aid help to prevent a lot of the negative GI distress that normal coffee can sometimes induce or exacerbate, such as indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux. Coffee is also known to be acidic, with a pH somewhere between 4.5-6. Mushroom coffee helps to alkalize the coffee, which can help reduce gastric secretions and alleviate gastritis, reflux, and gastrointestinal lining inflammation.
Additionally, mushroom coffee helps the beneficial gut bacteria flourish due to the prebiotic fibers found in the powdered mushroom extracts. This helps to balance the gut microbial community which plays an important role in mood, immune function, and digestive health.
Coffee, on average, has about 95mg of caffeine per eight-ounce cup. Mushroom coffee contains approximately half the amount of caffeine, similar to the caffeine content found in green tea. This is a big reason why the brew helps alleviate some of the negative side effects of coffee, such as overstimulation and its sleep-reduction potential.
However, it still quite packs an energetic punch. The synergism between the coffee compounds, caffeine, and the energy-enhancing bioactives found in the mushrooms can get your energy levels soaring throughout the day, without the hard crash or other negatives of regular coffee. This is especially true in mushroom coffee blends that contain Cordyceps, a high altitude-growing mushroom that is widely used for increasing athletic performance, enhancing endurance, and supporting high energy levels. It is probably best to consume Cordyceps-containing mushroom coffee early in the day to spare any potential insomnia or restlessness at night.
Four Sigmatic is one of the most popular mushroom coffee brands (in fact, the originator), with high reputability among its customers and very well-sourced mushrooms. It consistently holds the top spot on instant coffees on Amazon and is increasingly being introduced into natural grocery stores across America, such as Whole Foods. Four Sigmatic was established in 2012 and its products are vegan, paleo, keto-friendly, 100% organic, with little added sugar.
Four Sigmatic sells mushroom coffee in the form of instant coffee packets. The coffee packets are very simple to make (just add hot water) and lend themselves well to take on the road, on hikes, or anywhere you might need a quick pick-me-up. It contains organic Mexican-grown instant coffee with several mushroom powders, depending on the variety chosen.
The energy-supporting instant packets contain either Lion’s Mane and Chaga or Cordyceps and Chaga. Lion’s Mane works very well to boost up the effects of coffee. It is well-known for its ability to support cognitive function, by supporting and stimulating the growth of neurons. It also has well-supported antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties, as well as enhanced focus and concentration. Chaga, on the other hand, is nutrient-dense and contains very high antioxidant levels. It helps support healthy immune function, healthy blood sugar, and even has some evidence for fighting cancer.
For the ultimate calming, immune-supporting chai latte, Four Sigmatic offers a Turkey Tail and Reishi Chai Latte powder. Both mushrooms are well-known for their immune-strengthening and gut health-promoting effects. This grounding blend goes especially well with coconut or almond milk. Golden Latte with Shiitake and turmeric packets are also a highly recommended coffee alternative. It flaunts strong features of coconut and can help support healthy skin and digestion.
The company more recently started selling mushroom coffee grounds with Lion’s Mane and Chaga powdered extracts. The coffee grounds are from premium 100% Arabica coffee beans. It works great for coffeemakers and pour-overs and tastes like a bold, earthy version of regular dark roasts. All in all, Four Sigmatic pushed the frontier in the coffee world and their products are a great way to liven up any morning routine.
Organo Gold sells premium black coffee enhanced with organic Ganoderma lucidum, otherwise known as Reishi. This product is perfect for anyone with a sensitive stomach and wants to enjoy the health benefits of Reishi. Known in Traditional Chinese Medicine Reishi as the “divine mushroom” or “mushroom of immortality”, it is known for many health benefits, including, but not limited to:
- Enhancing the immune system
- Preventing or slowing cancer growth
- Lowering blood pressure
- Ameliorating allergies
- Decreasing inflammation
- Detoxifying the body
- Supporting digestive health
Additionally, it is loaded with antioxidants, which help to prevent oxidative stress in our cells and supports longevity. This coffee has a robust, earthy, and silky flavor especially when you add your favorite creamer.
The company also sells Cafe Latte coffee with organic Reishi. This one is also well-reviewed and has a mellow, smooth, and creamy flavor. Both flavors come in instant packets that can be easily added to hot water or regular coffee for an added boost.
Buying mushroom coffee mixes can get pricy, but thankfully mushroom coffee can be made easily at home and offers the added advantage of flexibility over what’s in the coffee. Since mushroom extracts are the most bioavailability means to attain all the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms, the best way to go about making mushroom coffee at home is to buy the mushroom powder extracts from reputable vendors.
Real Mushrooms sells all the major mushroom powders, including Reishi, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Chaga. The products are clearly labeled with the exact polysaccharide and active beta-glucan content, being high-quality hot-water extracts. Simply add ½-1 teaspoon to a cup of coffee with your favorite creamer and/or sweeteners. The powders go great in smoothies and teas too!
Mushroom tea is another great way to get a lot of the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms. This is the preferred way of ingestion in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both methods give you access to the benefits of the mushrooms because the heat in the coffee-brewing or tea-steeping process breaks down the tough cell walls of the mushrooms (called chitin) which unlocks the bioactive components. Overall, the best way of ingestion comes down to your unique needs and preferences.
Mushroom coffee is a good way to go if you’re looking for an energy boost in the morning or throughout the day. On the other hand, Reishi tea is a great way to wind down the evening and can be combined with many sleep-promoting herbs such as Passionflower, Chamomile, or Lemon Balm. Mushroom tea can be made with 3-5g of dried mushroom, in tea-bags, or as a powder like Four Sigmatic’s Reishi Elixir, which contains Reishi alongside adaptogenic Tulsi, rose hips, and mint.
Overall, mushroom coffee is a deliciously innovative way to boost a regular cup of Joe. Medicinal mushroom extracts in the coffee can effectively buffer the downsides of regular coffee while providing a whole host of health benefits. Perhaps the best part, the mushroom coffee tastes like a smooth, earthy version of regular coffee without any of the metallic mushroomy taste that you may expect from such an exotic brew. If you’re someone that is caffeine-sensitive, mushroom coffee is a fantastic way to get the energy levels of regular coffee without the classic coffee jitters.