Mushroom Coffee: Whats All The Fuss About?
A new coffee trend is taking over the world - people are now going wild about mushroom in coffee. The earthy, musky flavour of mushrooms is usually associated with stroganoffs and stir-fries, not coffee, so who came up with this strange concoction and why is it supposed to be a good idea?
The Benefits of Mushroom Coffee
The main reason people are raving about mushroom in coffee is its positive impact on health. In contrast with regular coffee (which also has health benefits), made from the beloved Coffea plant, mushroom-blend-coffee isn’t, strictly speaking, coffee at all.
Rather, it is a “medicinal preparation”, as put by Andrea Beaman. In her article, Beaman claims that coffee has an essentially draining, not nutritious, quality, which is why drinking it only worsened her stress and exhaustion. Like many others, she has converted to enjoying a cup of mushroom brew on the daily, saying it nourishes her and replenishes her energy levels.
Mushy coffee could be the answer for those who want to enjoy a refreshing mug of hot coffee but get shaky and nervous afterwards.
It can also enhance focus and productivity, as the biocomponents in some mushrooms can enhance cognitive functioning.
4 Superfood Mushrooms You Should Add To Your Coffee
Different types of mushroom will produce different flavours and nutritional profiles. The benefits of different mushrooms are often overlapping but subtly different. You can try brews made from various mushroom blends.
Below is a look at 4 of the most common and powerful medicinal mushrooms.
Mushrooms that you should put in your coffee today.
#1 - Chaga Mushroom
Chaga mushroom is a strange-looking mushroom that thrives in cold climates. It grows on trees, especially birches, looking like a charred black tumor formation.
Chaga is not celebrated for its beauty, but rather its ample health benefits. Its name is a direct transliteration of its Russian name чага (tsaga), and in Russia, it has been used to brew tea and folk remedies for centuries.
In other Northern and Eastern European countries, it has also been used for medicinal purposes and as a replacement for tea or coffee in times of deprivation.
In Finland, the home of Four Sigmatic, chaga brew was widely used as a wartime coffee replacement.
Although the chaga has a history of being a peasant remedy and a second-class coffee substitute, there are good reasons to continue its use in times of prosperity. The folk who began brewing it into medicine many centuries ago were actually onto something.
In Norwegian, chaga is called kreftkjuke, which literally means “cancer polypore” - this is fitting, because the chaga contains plenty of Beta-D-Gluca, which has been found to boost immune system and inhibit the growth of tumor cells.
One study has even found that Chaga extract induces selective apoptosis in humans, meaning that it targets and kills tumor cells while having no negative effect on normal cells. It can be used to complement cancer treatments and may have a cancer-preventing effect. Chaga has also been found to have antiviral properties, protecting cells from certain illnesses.
It seems you can do your body a lot of good by having your coffee the Siberian way!
#2 - Lion’s Mane
This funky looking mushroom falls like a cascade of white beard from branches of hardwood, and it has many amusing nicknames including pom pom mushroom and satyr’s beard.
Lion’s mane is found in many regions of the world, but has most widely been used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is used for its cognitive-enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties.
The cascading mushroom is rich in nutrition, containing vitamins and minerals but also many other bioactive compounds that promote wellbeing. These compounds have been found to help prevent or treat cognitive and neurological diseases.
Lion’s mane is believed to promote cognitive functioning, and science supports this as well. It’s been documented to capability to regenerate peripheral nerves that have been deteriorated by a disease.
The “pom pom mushroom” has also been found to improve the memory of mice with Alzheimer’s - a finding that likely applies to humans as well, based on all the other health-promoting properties of the mushroom.
To sum all these findings up, science definitely agrees with traditional Chinese medicine that Lion’s mane is good stuff.
#3 - Cordyceps
Cordyceps is a genus that includes about 400 types of mushrooms. They are probably the weirdest creatures on this list.
Cordyceps are actually parasites, which means they invade the bodies of insects or other fungi, using them as their growth base.
The most well-known species is the Ophiocordyceps sinensis, whose Tibetan name is much more evocative: Yartsa Gunbu or “Winter worm, summer grass”.
The cordyceps invade ghost moth eggs and eat the caterpillars from the inside, then growing into elongated mushrooms. It sounds rather gruesome, but the resulting fungi are prized for their health-promoting qualities.
The Yartsa Gunbu cordyceps are mainly found on the Tibetan plateau. Their use for medicinal purposes in Tibet was first documented in the 15th century, when they were used as an aphrodisiac.
Cordyceps have been found to promote kidney health. One study found they can be used to treat kidney disease and prevent renal fibrosis.
The parasite mushrooms have also been found to balance the levels of stress hormones, therefore increasing performance and relieving anxiety. One study concluded cordyceps have antidepressant-like qualities.
As for their aphrodisiac qualities, cordyceps have been found to boost steroidogenesis and therefore increase the levels of sex hormones, explaining where this folk belief originates from.
Among all the strange mushrooms in the world, the ghost moth-conquering cordyceps must be one of the strangest, but don’t let that put you off!
#4 - Reishi Or Lingzhi Mushroom
Reishi are the queen of medicinal mushrooms, having been used in traditional East Asian medicine for millenia - mainly by royals and other elites, because they are extremely rare in nature. These mushrooms are called reishi in Japanese and lingzhi in Chinese - something to keep in mind when you go poking around in a Chinese health store.
The Chinese characters in the name mean “sacred, divine or spiritual” (靈) and mushroom or, more poetically, “plant of longevity” (芝). The name explains why these shrooms are sometimes called the “God of Fungi”, although they have also earned this moniker with their many benefits.
Reishi has been called the mushroom of immortality since ancient times, which might be a slight exaggeration, but modern science has confirmed that the fungus does possess an insanely wide range of different health-promoting qualities.
In healthy people, they strengthen immunity cells and boosts the immune system overall.
If you haven’t been sold on this whole mushroom thing yet, it’s hard to dispute that reishi have earned their reputation as a superfungus.
There are also many others mushrooms with well-documented health benefits, such as maitake and astragalus. Maitake boosts the immune system, while astragalus promotes anti-aging activity, among other things - both are widely used in powdered form to make mushroomed coffee.
Where Can I Get Some Mushroom Coffee?
Now, most of us aren’t able to head to the nearest wilderness to gather a basket of mushrooms for a brew, and besides, making your own can be downright dangerous.
Dietitian and nutrition editor Cynthia Sass points out that it is important to be aware of the type of fungi you are ingesting: “It's important to know that anything medicinal, even plants and natural substances, can have potential side effects and interactions,” she says.
If you plan to go out foraging for wild mushrooms in order to make a DIY brew, just make sure you know exactly what kind of mushroom you’re looking for.
People have been brewing wild mushrooms like chaga for centuries, and if you can find it in your area, you can try it yourself. However, there’s a fair amount of work involved: after finding the mushrooms, you’ll need to chop, dry and boil them before brewing your beverage.
Most people can’t or don’t want to go that length, but fortunately there’s no real need to - there are professionally made mushroom powders available, and at least one company is producing ready made mushroom and coffee mixes for maximum ease of consumption.
Four Sigmatic Has Pioneered The Mushroom + Coffee Combo
The pioneer of this niche if Four Sigmatic, whose blend of mushroom extracts and coffee is the most widely available. I couldn’t find any other companies that would produce this stuff - if this coverage seems unbalanced, it’s just because nobody has started seriously challenging Four Sigmatic yet. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.
However, dried or powdered mushrooms are readily available in food shops, and you could try making your own blend mixing them with coffee grounds - recipes below.
Four Sigmatic, founded in 2012, has in many ways spearheaded the modern superfood-mushroom coffee craze. They process wild mushrooms into super-concentrated extracts which are then blended with regular coffee.
The Four Sigmatic mushroom blend contains Cordyceps and Chaga. Their Chaga comes wildcrafted from Siberian forests, while the Cordyceps are farmed in logs. The blend comes in instant sachets for easy use, and produces a smooth drink with no floating fungi. Christopher Null of Drinkhacker says it has a strong mushroomy flavour, “going head to head with the coffee character to create a pungent, earthy, and sultry spin on coffee”.
Reviewers on Brainwiz found it was energizing but mild, and tasted better when mixed with other beverages like cold brew coffee or a protein shake.
The bottom line was that the Four Sigma mushroom mixed coffee worked “basically as advertised, promoting an even wave of energy with no crash and no jitteriness”.
Four Sigma coffee is praised by many users for its productivity-enhancing qualities - this mushroom blend can help you sustain focus without suffering the nasty caffeine crash. If you're based in the UK and looking for some discounted coffee deals (including on Four Sigmatic pages), visit Thrivo.co.uk.
Ready To Try It? Start With These Recipes!
Now that you know WHY you should try drinking mushroom infused coffee, you need to know HOW.
The following recipes are simple and effective. Give them a try
#1 - Mushroom Bulletproof Coffee Recipe
This simple bulletproof coffee X Chaga mushroom combination serves one, and can be whipped up in minutes (but it will keep you going for hours)
- 8-10 ounces of boiling water
- 1 Tablespoon of Chaga mushroom powder
- 1 tablespoon Bulletproof Brain Octane oil, or just regular coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed, unsalted butter
# 2 - Immune-Boosting Mushroom Infused Coffee Recipe
This recipe by Andrea Beaman uses a mix of dried mushrooms instead of the easy-mode sachets. I suggest using her mushroom brew as a base for a supercharged coffee beverage.
It might seem daunting to get so many different kinds of fungi, but you can find these easily from a supplement store or online.
And if you develop a mushroom dependency, using pure dried mushrooms instead of ready-made sachets will prove more economical in the long run!
The following makes one big batch of this superfood goodness:
- 1 gallon of water
- 2-3 tablespoons of ground chaga
- 1 ounce of dried reishi
- Half an ounce of dried astragalus root
- 2 ounces of dried maitake
- Half an ounce of dried ginger (optional)
- Plus coffee, made the way you like it
- Add all the dried mushrooms and ginger, if using, to a gallon of water in a large pot.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer for 3 hours.
- Strain the liquid to get rid of any mushroom residue.
This big batch can be kept in the fridge for up to 6 days. To turn it into a coffee beverage, you can just mix it with coffee. You can do either half-and-half or any other ratio you like.
If you’re feeling experimental, you can also try brewing your coffee with the reheated mushroom base instead of water, or use it to make a mushroomy cold brew coffee.
#3 - Homemade Chaga Coffee Recipe
This traditional Finnish recipe - chaga (“pakurikääpä”) - has often been used as a replacement for coffee or tea. In my version, a chaga brew is mixed with coffee to produce a stronger cup.
If you live north enough, you could try foraging your own chaga. Alternatively, you can just buy it in ready-dried form.
If you do want to harvest your own chaga, it’s not hard to find in a forest, as chaga is a very unique-looking mushroom. It grows on birches looking like charred lumps of coal.
Maybe you could combine some chaga foraging with a weekend out camping - with our campfire brewing guide, you never need to be without a nice cup of coffee!
Once you’ve located one, hack a whole chaga into small pieces using a saw, axe or other tool. Dry the pieces in the sun or in the oven for 24-48 hours. Make sure the chaga is dry from the inside as well. You can then store it in a jar pretty much indefinitely.
Most people are going to just get their chaga from a shop. In any case, once you’ve got your hands on some dried chaga, here is how to turn it into coffee:
- Add one tablespoon of chaga grounds for a litre of water. You can recycle the chaga grounds about 4-5 times, as long as they keep turning the water into a deep, coffee-like colour. Don’t throw them away too early. You can also consume the mushroomy residue if you like, but most people filter it out.
- Depending on how dark you want your chaga brew to be, you can try a brew time varying from 15 minutes to several hours. The darker the brew, the more flavour and nutrients it has.
You can use the chaga brew to replace water as a base for coffee. You can also just make your coffee with water and add some chaga brew to your cup for a less intense mushroom flavour.
Unlock Your Mushroom Powers!
Maybe we could all achieve more if we were powered by mushrooms.
There’s a reason people have been using fungi as folk remedies for centuries, and modern science actually provides evidence for many of the old beliefs about their health benefits.
Enjoying powdered mushroom in coffee is a convenient way to enjoy the health benefits of fungi. Some of the recipes might seem a bit daunting to try at home, but the ready-mix sachets are there for an easier option.
Whichever recipe you try, let me know how it goes! I hope you’ll be feeling superpowered.