In a world where fads come and go faster than you can say “matcha latte”, a new contender has emerged – mushroom coffee.

Yes, you heard that right. Gone are the days when coffee was just a simple cup of Joe. A new fungi is stirring up the industry, a supposedly healthier and more sustainable drink, but does mushroom coffee live up to the hype?

“I have honestly never looked back.”

Sarah Hunter

Sarah Hunter is a self-proclaimed caffeine addict who has recently turned into a shroom supporter. “I have honestly never looked back”, she says. “I used to rely on coffee to give me energy throughout the day, but I experienced crashes, headaches, anxiety and jitters that were undeniable side effects of the caffeine. 

“I knew I needed to find an alternative. At first, when I read about the idea of adding mushrooms to my coffee I was sceptical but I was also really intrigued by the potential health benefits. 

“Since switching to mushroom coffee, I have not experienced any of that. I also noticed that it did not upset my stomach in the same way coffee did and I was able to drink it first thing in the morning without any problems.”

So, what exactly is mushroom coffee?

Mushroom coffee is a unique blend that combines the traditional taste of coffee with the addition of medicinal mushrooms. Most commonly these blends include varieties like Changa, Lion’s Mane and Reishi, which are all known for their immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and stress-reducing properties.

Hannah Clark, a Nutritional Health Expert, says “Lion’s mane mushrooms have been shown to stimulate the growth of new brain cells which can improve cognitive function of the brain and help improve memory. Also, Changa mushrooms are rich in antioxidants which help protect the body against stress and inflammation.” 

Here the proof may be in the pudding. The most surprising benefit I felt after drinking mushroom coffee for a couple of weeks was the effect on my mental clarity and focus”, says Sarah. “I found that when I was studying I was able to concentrate much better and stay alert throughout the day.”

Did you Know?

Mushrooms have been used for their medicinal properties for centuries, since Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine recognises mushrooms for their unique healing properties. Reishi, Shiitake, and Cordyceps were used to promote vitality, balance the body’s energy, and support overall well-being. Practitioners incorporated them into herbal tonics and teas to heal health concerns, ranging from respiratory ailments to immune system support.

What does mushroom coffee taste like? 

“I convinced myself it would taste really strongly of mushrooms, but I was surprised.”

sarah hunter

Regular coffee is renowned for its rich, bitter taste and aromatic notes. Sarah says, “One thing I really prepared myself for was the taste. I convinced myself that it would taste really strongly of mushrooms, but I was surprised.

“It does taste really similar to coffee, just with more earthy undertones and aftertaste. It is so easy to make as well. It is exactly like instant coffee, so you just mix it with hot water and then add milk if you would like.”

Are mushrooms a more sustainable option than coffee beans? 

The short answer is: it depends. 

Coffee is primarily grown in tropical regions, which often have fragile ecosystems that are vulnerable to deforestation and other environmental damage. 

Tom Bather, an Agricultural specialist, says, “Traditional coffee production methods can be water-intensive and require large amounts of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which can have a negative impact on soil health and water quality.”

On the other hand, mushrooms can be grown using a variety of sustainable methods. “Many mushroom species can be grown using waste materials like straw or sawdust, which can help reduce waste and lower production costs”, Tom continues. “Mushroom cultivation can also be done without the use of harmful chemicals, making it a more eco-friendly option.

“Another factor to consider is the transportation of coffee and mushroom products. Coffee is typically grown in countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Ethiopia, and then shipped long distances to consumers around the world.

“This can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts associated with transportation. Mushrooms can offer a lower carbon footprint to coffee beans due to them being made in the US or Europe.”

Of course, it is important to note that all mushroom coffee products are created equally when it comes to sustainability. As with any product, it is important to do your research and choose brands that prioritise sustainability and ethical practices. 

Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference. If you are a coffee aficionado who appreciates the classic taste and aroma of regular coffee, you may want to stick with it. However, if you are intrigued by the earthy flavour and potential health benefits of mushroom coffee, it could be worth exploring like Sarah. 

Mushrooms coffee makes me feel physically and mentally better and it actually tastes really good! I am thrilled with my decision to switch and I definitely will carry on drinking it in the future.”

Sarah hunter