Superfood trends have become so ubiquitous that even your morning coffee isn’t immune. Maybe you’re already putting oat milk in your lattes, and you’ve been over those butter-y Bulletproof coffees for some time now. This all means perhaps you’re ready for the next new coffee trend — that’s right, mushroom-fortified coffee.
Mushrooms are definitely having a moment, so it’s no surprise they’ve made their way into coffee. Not too dissimilar from mushroom tea, mushroom coffee is thought to help relieve stress, support immunity and aid productivity. Before you start chopping up shiitakes and dropping them in your morning cup, know those aren’t exactly the mushrooms garnering all the hype. “While you can get the benefits from white, cremini or portobello mushrooms commonly found in your produce department, the wild varieties of mushrooms often have a more concentrated amount of antioxidants,” said Katie Goldberg, RDN, of Katie Goldberg Nutrition. “Many people are choosing to turn to mushroom powders and supplements to incorporate the health benefits of wild mushrooms.”
Studies have suggested medicinal mushrooms could help lower anxiety, reduce stress and even fight cancer. Lion’s mane mushrooms are said to boost concentration and memory; cordyceps to increase energy and enhance athletic performance; maitake mushrooms regulate blood sugar levels and chaga mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and may lower inflammation.
While medicinal mushrooms have been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for thousands of years — and these recent claims certainly seem appealing, unfortunately, there isn’t much modern research that’s been done on humans. One study supports the claim that maitake mushrooms may lower blood glucose in patients with Type 2 diabetes, but if you’re already taking medication to control glucose levels, ingesting these mushrooms can actually interfere with the medicine. While chaga may keep you from getting the common cold, it can also act as a blood thinner and shouldn’t be consumed before surgery or by those taking certain medications.
Most of the research thus far has been done on animals and is still preliminary, so if you’re currently taking any supplements or medications, it’s best to consult your doctor before getting into the funghi game.
Most mushroom coffee incorporates wild mushrooms that aren’t easily found in your grocery store — usually a combination of reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane and chaga mushrooms. All claim to have different associated benefits, which is why they typically undergo a spray-dried extraction to produce a concentrated, optimal blend.
Even with a few different mushrooms blended into the coffee, the brew doesn’t taste like mushrooms. Finnish company Four Sigmatic uses arabica beans from Central America blended with a mushroom extract to produce a milder, less acidic brew. The coffee contains about half the amount of caffeine as is found in a regular cup and has less acidity, which is easier on the stomach and is less likely to produce that jittery feeling often associated with your morning ritual.
“Functional mushrooms like reishi, chaga, Lion’s Mane, cordyceps or turkey tail need to be properly extracted to get any benefit from them, which is why you’ll see them in tinctures, pills, and powders,” said Brittany Seymour, head of brand at Four Sigmatic. “They are similar to bone broth in a way that you need extended heat (and lipids) to unlock their power.”
Beware that these mushroom blends often come with a hefty price tag and may not be the magic fix for your health goals.
“Remember that mushrooms have many great health-promoting properties, but they aren’t magic, and a mushroom powder in your coffee can’t undo other diet and lifestyle choices,” Goldberg said. “It is your overall eating pattern and daily habits that are most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. ”
In the meantime, there’s reputable research that supports incorporating mushrooms into our diet. The low-calorie, fat-free and cholesterol-free food complements almost any meal plan and has plenty of well-studied associated benefits.