Mushroom coffee vs regular coffee

I am admittedly a coffee addict.  I love everything about it…the smell, the taste, and especially the boost of energy I get from it.  With this love for coffee, I am always looking to try new, unique coffee creations. So when I stumbled upon Mushroom Coffee Mix by Four Sigmatic® at my local grocery store, I jumped at the opportunity to try it for myself and see how it compared to the real stuff.  Could these products taste just like coffee as their websiteclaims, while also providing me with the health benefits of mushrooms?  I was excited to find out, but first a bit more about the history behind this perplexing product. 

photo of Chaga mushroom by Charles de Mille-Isles via Flickr

What is it?

Mushroom coffee is exactly what it sounds like: coffee which has distilled mushrooms in it.  These mushrooms, however, aren’t the typical portabella or shitake mushrooms which you often see at your local grocery store.  Rather these are adaptogenic mushrooms, like Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps or Chaga, which have been marketed to have a variety of health benefits.

  • Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) are white mushrooms with long, shaggy hairs which grows on trees and are commonly found in the Northeastern United States.  Research suggests Lion’s Mane can have a variety of different neurological benefits including:
    • Cognitive Enhancement
    • Neuroprotective Effect
    • Regeneration of damaged nerves
  • Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) are a one of the most expensive fungi in the world and are rarely found in the wild. The Cordyceps typically used in products, rather, are a supplement form of the mushroom known as Cordycep sinesis (Cs-4) which research suggests can have a variety of energy related benefits including:
    • Improved oxygen intake
    • Increased ATP production
    • Decreased fatigue
  • Chaga (Inonotus obliquss) are often referred to as the “king of all mushrooms” and are typically found growing on birch trees throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Research suggests Chaga mushrooms can have a variety of different healing benefits including: 
    • Antioxidant capabilities
    • Anti-inflammatory effects
    • Immune-system stimulation
photo of Lions Mane mushroom by Katja Schulz via Flickr

While this research of potential health benefits is promising, it is important to note that these results are from in vitro studies rather than human studies.  Therefore, the actual benefits, especially long-term, in humans remains unclear until larger clinical trials are done. 

Who makes it?

The main company producing mushroom coffee is the Finnish company Four Sigmatic®. Founded in 2012, their mushroom coffee combines organic instant Arabica Coffee with distilled mushrooms.  So whether you want to Create with Lion’s Mane & Chaga or Achieve with Cordyceps & Chaga, Four Sigmatic® offers a variety of different mushroom coffee mixes depending on your health goals.  If coffee is not for you, don’t worry Four Sigmatic® incorporates distilled mushrooms into a variety of products.  These include: Mushroom Hot Cacao, Latte, and Matcha Mixes; Mushroom Elixirs which can be used to make tea, mixed into a smoothie or used in cooking/baking; and skincare with Mushroom Face Masks and Superfood Serums. 

If you’re not a fan of instant coffee, then Huron River Coffee Company makes a mushroom coffee which you can brew using your preferred method.  Their product combines “medium-dark ground roast coffee from Guatemala with 100% pure organic Chaga and Lion’s Mane mushrooms.” For all the Keurig® users out there, they also have Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Cordycep or Reishi Mushroom Coffee Pods. In addition, Huron River Coffee offers a variety of mushroom extract powders, similar to Four Sigmatic®, which can be mixed into smoothies, soups, or used in cooking/baking.  

How Does It Taste?

With a better understanding of Mushroom Coffee and the history and science behind it, it was time to try it out.  So I went back to my store and picked up a box of their Achieve with Cordyceps & Chaga Mushroom Coffee Mix by Four Sigmatic®  to try it for myself…

Ingredients:

  • Instant Organic Arabic Coffee (1,900mg)
  • Dual-Extracted Cordyceps Mushroom (150mg)
  • Dual-Extracted Wildcrafted Siberian Chaga Mushroom (350mg)
  • Organic Eleuthero (100mg)

*Each Serving contains 50mg of caffeine

Supplies:

  • Packet of Mushroom Mix Coffee
  • 7oz of hot water
  • Coffee cup
  • Stirrer

Instructions:

  1. Pour 7oz of hot water into coffee cup
  2. Add Mushroom Mix Powder
  3. Stir till dissolved
  4. Enjoy 🙂

As I mixed my packet of Mushroom Coffee into my cup of hot water, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it looked no different than my typical morning coffee.  However, while my eyes were fooled, my nose was not.  The smell of smooth, rich, roasted coffee beans which I was accustomed had been replaced with an odd, earthy smell emanating from the cup.  I did not let this peculiar smell deter me and I slowly began to drink my Mushroom Coffee.  What I found was that this mushroom infused coffee tasted surprisingly very similar to my traditional brewed coffee.  This excitement, however, soon faded as I noticed a distinct, unpleasant, earthy aftertaste the more I drank it.  I tried adding a small amount of creamer in hopes of off-setting this aftertaste, but with no luck.  Nevertheless, I continued to drink my Cordycep and Chaga infused coffee till it was all gone to see if it could help me to “achieve” more.  Unexpectedly, not long after finishing my cup of mushroom infused coffee I did find myself feeling more alert than usual.  With this burst of energy, I was able to mark many of the tasks off on my never-ending to-do list and thought I was able to “achieve” more throughout the morning.  

Despite this added burst of energy from the Mushroom Coffee, the taste was not for me.  Having never tried instant coffee before though, I am not sure if this less than pleasant aftertaste is from the distilled mushrooms or the instant coffee in the product.  So while in the future I am eager to try Huron River Coffee Company’s freshly brewed mushroom coffee, for now this this this coffee lover will be sticking with the traditional, mushroom-free brewed coffee.  

Copyright: All content © 2010-2019 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.