Amélie has a dual Bachelor of Biological Sciences and Literature. She wrote a Master's Thesis on the importance of blending scientific knowledge with the arts to create a healthier culture. She also has a Bachelor of Education and has been teaching Biology and Language Arts since 2016. She is happily addicted to coffee and constantly learning.
What is mushroom coffee?
Mushroom coffee is the addition of different medicinal mushrooms such as lion's mane, reishi or chaga with coffee. The mushrooms are dried and ground into a powder before being added to instant coffee or ground coffee beans. The purpose is to offer a health boost to your morning drink. It can be caffeinated, decaffeinated or has up to 80% less caffeine than an average cup of coffee. There are a lot of brands, and it is challenging to choose if you are new to this trend. It can also be expensive. If you get a subscription plan, it costs $1.50 to $2 per serving.
The origins of mushroom coffee
Traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine has used mushrooms for thousands of years. Mushrooms have been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. However, during World War II, when coffee beans were unavailable, the modern mushroom coffee movement is thought to have originated in Finland. “Finnish people used chaga mushroom, native to our country, as a coffee substitute during World War II,” Four Stigmatic's founder, Tero Isokauppila, told Food52 writer. “To our knowledge, our grandparents invented the concept of using chaga as a coffee substitute.” Four Sigmatic is the first widespread mushroom coffee brand, but many more companies are now following their steps.
How do I choose a good quality mushroom coffee?
If you prefer creating your mix or need to control the quantity, you want to avoid blends and make your own by buying mushroom extracts individually. Review our blog article on how to make your cup of mushroom coffee to learn more. Knowing the effect of Dodjivi Mushroom Coffee Blend, Pureshroom Coffee, MUDWTR, or Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee is challenging as they do not provide enough information on their formula.
Boil your mushroom powder in water, or mix with extracts to get the benefits of polysaccharides (medicinal components described below). Our bodies can't digest chitin, which makes up fungal cell walls.
Yet, we enjoyed the taste of all four brands, and most consumers' reviews were positive. If you want to slowly lower caffeine out of your routine, MUDWTR and Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee are great options as they offer low caffeine content to none.
How does mushroom coffee taste?
Mushroom coffee tastes like regular coffee. It is simply coffee with mushroom powder blended in. You can add powdered mushrooms to your smoothies, broth or pasta sauce without affecting much of the taste. Some have a radically different flavour, like MUDWTR, which uses cacao, cinnamon, and turmeric and is too spicy to be compared to a cup of coffee. Some brands which have more mushrooms than coffee can taste earthy and bitter. The Finnish brand Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee has a rich and nutty flavour, but it depends on which flavour pack you purchase. Dodjivi Mushroom Coffee Blend and Pureshroom Coffee taste like coffee, not mushrooms. The smooth, earthy flavour is perfect for enjoying any time.
How to get all the health benefits of mushrooms?
Mushrooms' polysaccharides are responsible for the health benefits it provides. Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates that hold all the mushroom's medicinal benefits. They are inside chitin cell walls which are proteins that are difficult for our bodies to break down. Those walls are why even the purest and most concentrated powdered mushrooms may not deliver all the health benefits. Read more here on how to find quality ingredients.
For quality, you want pure extract that is bioavailable. Mushroom extracts are almost always solvent extracts. The solvent, in this case, is alcohol, as it breaks down the chitin protein wall. A worthwhile mushroom alcohol extract should not contain alcohol, only the alcohol-soluble mushroom ingredients. (*Extract is not "mycelial biomass," "fruit body powder cultured on organic whole oats," or "tincture.") This process extracts mushrooms' polysaccharides. Avoid tinctures as they are not extracts in the case of mushroom supplements. They could be better quality.
Mushroom powder needs to be boiled in water to help release the polysaccharides. Yet keep in mind that the pure extract will have a higher concentration. People cannot digest the chitinous cell walls of mushrooms.
A 2017 study warns consumers about the poor quality of food supplements. The results showed that the measured ingredients of only 26.3% (5 out of 17) of the products tested were by their labels. The quality consistency of Red Reishi dietary supplements in the U.S. market could have been better.
What are the health benefits of mushrooms?
The scientific community has renewed interest in researching mushrooms' potential health benefits. The list is long! Yet one property keeps coming up: its ability to enhance the immune system. they seem to strengthen our immune systems. It has been 30 years since the scientific community sparked its interest in fungi, although it's premature to say with certainty how they work. In the documentary The Kingdom: How Fungi Made Our World, McMaster University biochemistry professor Gerry Wright explains that:
"Fungi produce molecules that humans still can’t reproduce in a lab, and we're only beginning to scrape the surface of what we can learn from them."
The research has only begun but below is a list of 6 mushrooms that have gained much popularity.
Cordyceps - Cordyceps sinensis
Between 1998 and 2008, the price of Cordyceps sinensis increased by 900%, according to this in-depth cordyceps study. The recent discoveries on its properties can explain this. Cordyceps is proven to help the body use oxygen more efficiently and improve blood flow. People who exercise regularly or are athletes can benefit from this. Besides improving exercise, athletic performance and libido, it speeds up muscle recovery after a workout. It also helps metabolize fatty acids and will enhance your immune system. A few cordyceps in your coffee will help you go through flu season as well as help you keep up your new year's resolution if you are trying to get back to the gym.
- Improves Blood Flow
- Enhance your Energy Level and Libido
- Metabolize Fatty Acids
- Enhance the Immune System
Lion's Mane - Hericium erinaceus
Lion's Mane is famous for its ability to help decrease neuroinflammation by controlling microglial activity - which causes neuronal damage. The feathery "pom-pom" mushroom also has antioxidants and strengthens the immune system. It also has significant potential to relieve stress and depressive states. This study states that it produces anti-depressant-like effects.
Recent studies have shown that H. erinaceus has protective effects for diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and cancer, which are related to gut microbiota. Even more evidence and studies support the overall positive impact of Lion's Mane in protecting and maintaining our gut health.
Lion's mane may be able to support people with cognitive decline and digestive disorders. Lion's mane's very low toxicity in chronic consumption, and its demonstrated beneficial effects on the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal system and in digestive oncology make it an exciting candidate for future applications.
- Anti-depressant-like effects
- Decreases neuroinflammation
- Relieves stress
- Strengthens the immune system
- Protects against inflammatory bowel diseases and cancer
- Improves gut health
Shiitake - Lentinula edodes
Asian countries have cultivated shiitake mushrooms for more than 1,000 years, and they are considered much more than just a tasty mushroom. They are well known for being incredibly healthy for your heart. They have one of the highest amounts of natural copper, a mineral that supports healthy blood vessels, bones, and immune support. The compounds in Shiitakes inhibit cholesterol absorption and production in the liver. Packed with phytonutrients, Shiitakes prevent plaque buildup and help maintain healthy blood pressure and circulation. It is also an excellent antioxidant and antimicrobial.
- Promotes cardiovascular health
- Improves immune system
- Increases bone health
- Reduce cholesterol levels
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Excellent source of minerals and vitamins
- Antioxidant and antimicrobial
Chaga - Trypanosoma cruzi
A fungus commonly found in Siberia, it has been used throughout history to boost immunity because of its antioxidant properties. Chaga mushrooms can combat free radicals and inflammation. It reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol, and fights oxidative stress (which causes skin aging). The chaga mushroom, which grows on birch trees in cold climates, has a rock-like appearance. There is no similarity in taste between these mushrooms and traditional mushrooms. They have a bitter taste and a vanilla flavour. They are known for reducing inflammation, and a study found they were instrumental in combating cancer.
You could be getting a mixed bag of potency with each dose, so you should educate yourself on the product you are trying. You could make tea one time and have no side effects. But the next time, you may have something that's higher potency because of how it was grown or processed. And then you could get some unpleasant side effects because it is a blood thinner.
- Reduces harmful cholesterol
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Reduce inflammation
- Fight cancer
Reishi - Ganoderma
There's no doubt Reishi has a lot to offer: weight loss, anti-aging, immune system boost, and even cancer-fighting properties. It contains substances that reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. It also inhibits platelet aggregation or thrombosis (The action of platelets clumping together to form blood clots. Platelets are a type of blood cell. They help form blood clots by sticking together.)
However, what makes reishi so unique is its calming effects - all thanks to the triterpenes. Mood-boosting compounds may ease anxiety, ease depression, and help you sleep better. Plus, Reishi can help you focus and heal your nervous system.
- Helps weight loss
- Boost the immune system
- Cancer-fighting properties
- Reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels
- Improves sleep quality
- Heals the nervous system
- Mood boosting effect: ease anxiety and depression
Turkey Tail - Trametes versicolor
Turkey Tail is the most potent immune system booster on this list. They contain a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK), a prescription drug approved for helping treat cancer in Japan. PSK is an oral medication (often prescribed at 3 grams/day), along with several chemotherapy protocols. The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms wrote:
New clinical trials demonstrate improved quality of life after surgery and in combination with chemotherapy, as well as extended 5 to 10-year survival rates, especially for patients with colorectal and stomach cancers.
Studies show that turkey tail improves survival rates of people with certain cancers, fights leukemia cells, and improves the immune system of people receiving chemotherapy. More studies are underway to complete the safety regulations. It also promotes a healthy inflammation response, protects DNA from damage and supports gut and liver health.
- Strong support for the immune system
- Promotes a healthy inflammation response
- Protects DNA from damage
- Supports gut & liver health
Mushroom coffees can be expensive, but this is the beginning of its journey. Although consumers need help verifying the quality of many brands, scientists evaluate the quality of the products and their effects every year. Increasing knowledge has made us aware of fungi's powerful healing and nutritional properties. One thing that we know for sure is that it is safe to try, and it tastes pretty good. Consumers have relatively positive reviews of these products, and we also enjoyed them!