Mushroom Coffee: How It Works, Potential Health Benefits and Things to Consider

Mushroom coffee has become a trendy beverage popular with health-conscious influencers and other wellness-minded folks. So, what is mushroom coffee, and what benefits does it offer?

In short, mushroom coffee is a combination of coffee and ground mushrooms. It’s touted as a healthier alternative to coffee, mainly due to the nutritional benefits of mushrooms, which people have used as medicine for thousands of years. However, the benefits of this beverage aren’t fully established yet, so there are a few things to keep in mind before incorporating it into your lifestyle. Let’s take a look.

What is mushroom coffee?

When you hear the term “mushroom coffee,” do you picture a cup of coffee with pieces of mushroom swirling through it? It’s not exactly an appetizing thought. Fortunately, that’s not how mushroom coffee works. 

In reality, mushroom coffee looks like a typical cup of joe — but instead of being made from just coffee beans, it also contains dried and ground mushrooms. But what does mushroom coffee taste like? Surprisingly, most mushroom coffee blends don’t taste like mushrooms at all, which is great if you want to enjoy the potential perks of this trendy beverage but don’t want the fungi flavor.

Dried mushrooms and fresh brewed cup of hot drink on wooden background.

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Manufacturers typically use medicinal mushrooms (like reishi, lion’s mane, chaga and turkey tail) for their mental and physical health benefits when making mushroom coffee. These mushrooms are rich in healthy components known as adaptogens, which have been used in Eastern medicine to treat various ailments. You might also find shiitake mushrooms in some mushroom coffee products.

Many mushroom coffee products are available on the market today, including mushroom powder, coffee pods, instant coffee, ground coffee and latte blends. Some popular brands include Four Sigmatic, Clevr Blends and RYZE mushroom coffee.

How does mushroom coffee work?

Medicinal mushrooms have several bioactive compounds, including carotenoids and polyphenols, which may benefit your health when consumed in mushroom coffee. Here’s how: 

  • Carotenoids: Known for their antioxidant properties, these compounds can improve immunity, eye health, and cardiovascular health.
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  • Polyphenols: Medicinal mushrooms (especially chaga) contain polyphenols, which also act as antioxidants. According to a 2023 review, “mushroom polyphenols exhibit multidirectional beneficial effects on the human body: anticancer, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, slowing down the aging process, and preventing the degenerative diseases of the nervous system and cardiovascular diseases.” 
  • Vitamins and minerals: Mushrooms also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, which benefit your health in many ways. For example, lion’s mane mushrooms are rich in B vitamins (including riboflavin and niacin), as well as essential minerals like zinc and potassium.

Drinking mushroom coffee may allow you to enjoy the benefits offered by these compounds (we’ll dive into the specific benefits in just a minute). However, it’s important to note that while the health benefits of mushrooms themselves are well-established, the research on mushroom coffee is still limited.

For example, research shows that eating reishi mushrooms can boost your immune system and potentially prevent or treat cancer, but it remains somewhat unclear if you’ll receive the same benefits from consuming mushroom coffee.

Potential benefits of mushroom coffee

While more research is needed to back up their claims, proponents of mushroom coffee say that it offers several health benefits, including: 

Increased focus and energy levels with fewer jitters

Even though it contains mushrooms, mushroom coffee is still coffee – and because of the caffeine content, drinking it may help improve focus and concentration. However, since mushroom coffee is usually equal parts mushrooms and coffee, it typically contains less caffeine than a standard cup of joe, which might be helpful if you tend to feel anxious or jittery from regular coffee. Alternatively, mushroom coffee might be a good compromise if you’re trying to reduce your caffeine intake (but still want to feel alert and focused during the day).

Immune system support and antioxidant properties

Thanks to their bioactive compounds, mushrooms have immune-boosting and antioxidant properties. Specifically, research has found that turkey tail mushrooms — which are often used in mushroom coffee — have a compound that may help improve immunity in cancer patients. But, again, more research is needed to determine whether the mushrooms retain these benefits when they’re dried and mixed with coffee beans to create mushroom coffee.

Oyster mushroom on a blue background.

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Stress relief and potential adaptogenic effects

When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, a stress hormone that increases your energy and helps you power through the turmoil you’re experiencing. Consuming adaptogenic mushrooms, including the ones used in mushroom coffee, may help regulate your cortisol and reduce stress.

Potential drawbacks and side effects of mushroom coffee

At the same time, mushroom coffee may also have certain downsides, such as: 

Possible allergic reactions to mushrooms

It’s best to steer clear of mushroom coffee if you’re allergic or intolerant to mushrooms. However, even if you don’t have a known fungi allergy, it’s possible that you could have an adverse reaction to mushroom coffee since it often contains medicinal mushrooms that you might not have tried before. For example, an allergic reaction to reishi mushrooms can cause a dry mouth, dizziness, rash, or headache.

Interaction with medications 

There may be risks involved in mixing certain medications with mushroom coffee. Reishi mushrooms, for instance, may lower your blood sugar or blood pressure. If you’re on medication for diabetes or high blood pressure, make sure to speak with your doctor before you incorporate mushroom coffee into your diet.

Digestive or kidney issues

For some people, drinking mushroom coffee may lead to digestive discomfort caused by either the coffee, the mushrooms or both. Additionally, some types of medicinal mushrooms (including chaga) are high in oxalates. If you have a history of kidney problems, overconsumption of oxalates may increase your risk of developing kidney stones.

Mushroom coffee vs. regular coffee

While mushroom coffee might look like regular coffee, the two beverages have some key differences.

Caffeine content and energy levels

Since mushroom coffee is usually half coffee and half mushrooms, it’s naturally lower in caffeine than regular coffee. As a result, it probably won’t give you as much energy as your typical morning brew.

Dried mushrooms and fresh brewed cup of hot drink on wooden background.

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Taste and flavor profile

Many mushroom coffee products are available on the market, each with its own flavor profile. However, many taste similar to traditional coffee, sometimes with a slightly nuttier or earthier flavor.

Nutritional differences

Similarly, there’s a clear difference in the nutritional makeup between the two drinks, with mushroom coffee containing mushrooms (which regular coffee doesn’t). As we’ve covered, adding mushrooms may offer several potential health benefits, including improved immunity and stress relief.

Cost comparison and availability

Price is another major difference between these two types of coffee. Generally speaking, mushroom coffee is far more expensive, often costing twice that of regular coffee. For example, a 12-ounce bag of mushroom coffee from Four Sigmatic costs around $20, while a bag of coffee typically costs less than $10. Also, mushroom coffee isn’t as widely available as regular coffee, making it pricier and harder to find.

Things to consider before buying mushroom coffee

Not sure if mushroom coffee is right for you? Before you try it, there are a few things to consider, including your personal health and the costs of switching to mushroom coffee.

From a health perspective, many people should be able to drink mushroom coffee safely. However, if you’re currently taking medication or have an ongoing health condition, speak with your healthcare professional before adding mushroom coffee to your routine. You can also ask about dosage recommendations to ensure you’re not overconsuming.

You’ll also want to consider your budget. If funds are tight, you’re probably better off incorporating whole mushrooms into your diet (which have well-established health benefits) rather than shelling out for mushroom coffee (which is double the cost of regular coffee and doesn’t have proven health benefits).

Finally, since mushroom coffee is relatively new to the market, you might need to become more familiar with the brands that produce it. Because of this, it’s wise to research any companies you’re considering buying from and thoroughly review all ingredient lists.