What is mushroom coffee?

Mushroom coffee is regular coffee with the addition of mushrooms. Mushroom coffee is good for you because it supplies nutrients and it is an adaptogen, but possible side effects include nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
Mushroom coffee is regular coffee with the addition of mushrooms. Mushroom coffee is good for you because it supplies nutrients and it is an adaptogen, but possible side effects include nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

You may have noticed mushroom coffee on an increasing number of store shelves and cafe menus. But is the trendy beverage worth the hype? It may not seem like the most appetizing concept, but there’s much more to mushroom coffee than throwing creminis into a coffee cup.

This caffeinated beverage has spiked in popularity due to its supposed benefits. Fans of mushroom coffee claim that it can contribute to more energy, sounder sleep, reduced inflammation, boosted immunity, and improved memory. Science actually backs many of these claims, meaning the health benefits of mushroom coffee may make it worth a sip.

Mushroom coffee is regular coffee with the addition of mushrooms. Exactly how the mushrooms are added to the coffee varies. Some options include:

  • Pre-made coffee drinks infused with mushroom extract and other flavors
  • Whole coffee beans with ground mushrooms
  • Ground coffee mixed with powdered mushrooms

Most often, the mushrooms are dried and their most beneficial compounds are extracted, ground into a powder, and then added to the coffee.

So, what does mushroom coffee taste like? That depends on the brand and type, but most mushroom coffee tastes similar or nearly exactly like coffee, often with nutty notes. The preparation process ensures that there’s little “ umami” (the rich taste found in things like bouillon and mushrooms) in the flavor profile of mushroom coffee.

If you’re not a fan of the taste or texture of mushrooms but would still like to enjoy their health benefits, you may want to try mushroom coffee.

Is mushroom coffee healthy?

Plain coffee has many health benefits of its own and has been linked to longer life, lowered cancer risk, and decreased instances of chronic disease. Presumably, mushroom coffee has even more health benefits than regular coffee due to the nutritional value and inherent medicinal properties of mushrooms.

What nutrients are in mushroom coffee?

For thousands of years, mushrooms have been eaten as part of a healthy diet and used by medical practitioners to treat diseases. Mushrooms are low in calories and packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin B. Mushrooms contain vitamins B2, B3, B5, and folate (also known as folic acid). Folate is used to treat anemia and promote healthy nutrient absorption. Vitamin B can boost your mood, focus, and immunity.
  • Selenium. Selenium is a mineral used to promote a healthy heart and blood vessels and to treat conditions like hepatitis C, diabetes, and eczema
  • Phosphorus. Phosphorus contributes to kidney health, proper muscle contraction, and strong teeth.
  • Copper. This mineral is commonly used to promote wound healing. It can also treat arthritis, osteoporosis (brittle bones), and memory deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s.
  • Potassium. Healthy levels of potassium can prevent strokes and treat high blood pressure. Potassium plays a role in transmitting nerve signals and maintaining a proper fluid balance in the body.
  • Vitamin D. This vitamin helps you maintain healthy bone structure. Your skin naturally produces it when exposed to the sun, but vitamin D deficiency is still common. While mushrooms can be a source of vitamin D, those you find in stores often contain only trace amounts of vitamin D, unless manufacturers expose them to UV light for a sufficient period of time.

Mushrooms also boast a unique array of other substances that contribute to healthy immune functioning, decreased oxidative stress, and overall wellbeing, including:

  • Polysaccharides. Polysaccharides act as prebiotics that provide food for probiotics, resulting in fewer infections and better gut health.
  • Carotenoids. Carotenoid compounds act as antioxidants that can protect your circulatory system and nervous system from disease.
  • Indoles. Like carotenoids, indoles display antioxidant activity. One example of an indole in mushrooms is melatonin, which decreases stress levels and induces relaxation.
  • Polyphenols. Polyphenols have been shown to have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting properties.

As if all that wasn’t enough to prove their merit, the mushrooms commonly used to make mushroom coffee are also adaptogenic.

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are active ingredients found in certain mushrooms and plants. When you eat them, they can positively impact the way your body handles stress. In order to fit the adaptogen criteria, a mushroom must do each of the following things:

  • Help you deal with stress
  • Be nontoxic in normal doses 
  • Help your body find a state of balance

Adaptogens reduce stress and increase energy by adjusting the levels of cortisol (a hormone) in your system. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels are heightened and adaptogens will reduce them. If you’re experiencing fatigue due to low cortisol levels, adaptogens will increase them.

Mushroom coffee could help you start the day with lower stress levels — as well as provide that coveted caffeine fix.

Is there caffeine in mushroom coffee?

Mushroom coffee may contain less caffeine than ordinary coffee, mainly because the mushroom additive leaves less room for coffee. It varies, but most regular mushroom coffee contains between 45 and 90 milligrams of caffeine. Decaffeinated and caffeine-free mushroom coffee alternatives are also available. By contrast, one 8-ounce cup of black coffee contains 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine.

Most people can consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine each day without issues, but the lower caffeine content in mushroom coffee can be a plus for those who are pregnant or people with a sensitivity to caffeine.

If you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, mushroom coffee can help ease the transition. While mushroom coffee has less caffeine than black coffee, it’s still more caffeinated than decaffeinated coffee.

Types of mushroom coffee

There are nearly 2,000 species of mushrooms that perform more than 100 medicinal functions. Of these species, 25 have been cultivated for human consumption.

Due to the current popularity of mushroom coffee and the wide array of mushrooms available, there are many varieties to choose from. You can find many types of mushroom coffee featuring different fungi with varying health benefits. Mushroom coffee may contain:

  • Reishi. This mushroom can benefit the immune system and is often used for its anti-aging properties, treating lung conditions like asthma, and fighting viral infections like the flu.
  • Lion’s mane. This type of mushroom may reduce memory loss, increase brain functioning, and kill cancer cells. Lion's mane may also benefit your mental health by preventing disorders like depression.
  • Chaga. This mushroom can work as an antioxidant and is often taken orally for heart disease, stomach pain, and diabetes.
  • Maitake. This mushroom regulates blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, and boosts your immune system. It may promote weight loss and is used to treat cancer and reduce side effects of chemotherapy.
  • Cordyceps. This mushroom can treat coughs, respiratory illnesses, and irregular heartbeats. Cordyceps is commonly used as an adaptogen to increase energy and stamina.

Whichever kind of mushroom coffee you try, you’ll experience the health benefits of mushrooms. However, it is possible that some people will experience negative side effects.

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Side effects of mushroom coffee

Caffeine tolerance is personal, and some people experience negative side effects after drinking coffee. If you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, even the lower doses in mushroom coffee might trigger an upset stomach, rapid heart rate, or anxiety.

Mushrooms can also cause issues in people who have kidney problems or a history of difficulty digesting grains. Chaga mushrooms, in particular, can increase the risk of kidney stones due to high levels of oxalates. Oxalates are a natural substance found in many foods that can stick to calcium and form crystals as your body is making urine. This is unlikely to happen unless you're consuming high levels of oxalates and too little liquid.

In rare cases, people have negative reactions to the adaptogens in mushrooms, including nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and other allergic reactions. If you have any health concerns after incorporating mushroom coffee into your diet, the first step is to stop drinking it. If that doesn’t help, consider consulting your doctor or dietitian.

Should you drink mushroom coffee?

Drinking mushroom coffee is good for you, but no better than consuming mushrooms or coffee individually. If you’re looking to save money, you might be better off drinking regular coffee and incorporating mushrooms into your diet the old-fashioned way.

 Mushroom coffee is generally more expensive than standard coffee, and many people find the cost unsustainable — especially if they usually drink a few cups per day.

However, if you’re interested in the health benefits of mushroom coffee, there’s no harm in giving it a sip. You never know — your morning cup of mushroom coffee could become a new favorite ritual.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2022
References
SOURCES:

American Botanical Council: "Adaptogens: A Review of their History, Biological Activity, and Clinical Benefits."

Cleveland Clinic: "Mushroom Coffee: Should You Be Drinking It?"

Consumer Reports: "Smarter: How Much Coffee Is Too Much?"

European Food Research and Technology: "Culinary–medicinal mushrooms: a review of organic compounds and bioelements with antioxidant activity."

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Mushrooms."

International Journal of Microbiology: "Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life."

JAMA Internal Medicine: "Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism: Findings From the UK Biobank."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "9 Reasons Why (the Right Amount of) Coffee Is Good for You."

Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: "The Role of Polyphenols, ß-Carotene, and Lycopene in the Antioxidative Action of the Extracts of Dried, Edible Mushrooms."

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Pharmaceuticals (Basel): "Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity."

UCLA Health: "What are adaptogens and should you be taking them?"

U.S. Food & Drug Administration: "Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?"