You might think of yourself as a bit of a coffee aficionado - and by the way, we would thoroughly recommend our Magic Coffee - but there’s one variety you might not have tried yet: mushroom coffee. Yes, that’s right, mushroom coffee really is a thing. Increasingly popular with health food devotees and taste trendsetters alike, mushroom coffee tastes great (seriously!) and is said to come with a host of potential health benefits making it a great alternative for people on a strict vegan bodybuilding diet.
You probably have a certain idea of how mushrooms look, smell and taste. It might be a little difficult to get past this at first! Some people initially find the whole idea of mushroom coffee a bit difficult to get to grips with. However, more and more people are making mushroom coffee a regular part of an ethical, healthy, plant-based diet. So, put all your preconceptions out of your mind - because the earthy, rich and mellow taste of mushroom coffee is sure to win you over.
What, then, is mushroom coffee, and what explains its rapid rise to popularity? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out more.
What is Mushroom Coffee?
Mushroom coffee is essentially a blend of powdered mushrooms and ground coffee. Although mushrooms typically have a powerful and distinctive flavour (which some people find a bit overpowering), mushroom coffee is in fact much mellower. This is because the mushrooms used to make mushroom coffee have a robust, yet far more muted taste than the kind of mushrooms people typically eat.
Although mushroom coffee has only risen to prominence in the last few years, fungi have been used in traditional Chinese remedies for many centuries. It also has roots in Finland. In the 1940s, Finnish people started to make mushroom coffee using Chaga mushrooms as supplies of ordinary coffee ran low due to the ongoing war. As Chaga mushrooms are native to Scandinavia, they made a convenient substitute. It’s only in the last decade that mushroom coffee has enjoyed a renaissance as a health food favourite, however.
Are Mushrooms Good for You?
The health benefits of eating mushrooms are well documented (although some of them are poisonous, so be sure to avoid those ones!). Mushrooms can provide all sorts of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The exact health benefits, though, vary depending on the type of mushroom. They are generally recognised as a good source of various health supporting elements, however, including antioxidants, potassium, copper and beta glucan. The latter is a dietary fibre which studies have suggested can enhance the health of your heart.
Although more research is needed, some studies have suggested that mushrooms can have even more health benefits. For example, they may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and good heart function by preventing plaque build-up. Some mushroom varieties may offer a degree of protection against cancer, in addition to slowing the progress of neurodegenerative conditions like dementia. We will explore these issues in more detail later in this guide.
Just like vegan bodybuilding supplements, different types of mushroom contain different nutrients, so research them before consumption. The method of consumption may also affect the nutrients your body gets from them. You should always take care to ensure that any mushrooms you consume won’t interfere with any medication you might be taking. Please speak to your doctor if there’s anything you aren’t sure about.
How Much Mushroom Coffee Should You Drink?
Mushroom coffee contains less caffeine than regular coffee (about half, to be exact). This means that it could provide you with the benefits of caffeine - such as improved productivity, energy and focus - without the potential downsides that can come with consuming excessive amounts. Consuming too much caffeine can exacerbate jitteriness and disrupt sleep cycles. Drinking mushroom coffee, therefore, could help you get the best of both worlds.
If you typically find yourself chugging coffee like there’s no tomorrow, you might have thought to yourself that you should moderate your intake. As we’ve already noted, consuming too much caffeine can have some potential downsides for your everyday health. One of the great things about mushroom coffee is that because it contains less caffeine, you can actually drink more coffee while reducing your overall caffeine intake.
Mushroom coffee still contains some caffeine, so you can get an energy boost as and when you need one, but you won’t run the risk of feeling quite so jittery and on edge. It’s a mellower drink, but one that also helps you stay focused and on top of your game.
A cup of mushroom coffee is a great way to start your day with a healthy energy boost. Why not make it a part of your morning routine? Because its caffeine content is moderate compared to regular coffee, you can drink mushroom coffee at regular intervals throughout the day, too. That’s without having to worry about overloading yourself with too much caffeine.
Our Mushroom Coffee Recipe
Mushroom coffee is a doddle to make. If you want to keep it really simple, all you have to do is add either half a teaspoon or a full teaspoon (depending on your preference) to ordinary coffee. Alternatively, you can make your own. First, you need to make a mushroom decoction. For this, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Dried ground chaga (1 teaspoon)
- Dried ground lion’s mane (1 teaspoon)
- 1.5 litres of water
You can use greater amounts than those suggested here and store what you don’t use for later. Mix the ingredients together until it comes to the boil. Then, leave it to simmer on a reduced heat for a couple of hours (one hour would probably suffice, but the longer you leave it, the better the results should be). Then, when you’re ready to drink, take a teaspoon of ground coffee beans and put in a French press. Boil the decoction and pour it over your ground beans. Leave it to steep for about five minutes.
Be sure to check out our dedicated recipe section for more simple, healthy and practical ideas.
Types of Mushroom & What You Need to Know About Them
Our above recipe suggested you use Lion’s Mane and Chaga mushrooms for your mushroom coffee. Why did we pick those particular varieties? Read on, and you’ll find out. We’re going to talk about a range of different mushrooms - including those two - and why adding them to your morning Joe could benefit your health.
Reishi mushrooms (also known as lingzhi mushrooms) have been used in Eastern traditional remedies for more than 2,000 years. They can be found growing at the base of deciduous trees, and their natural habitat encompasses a range of Asian countries. They can commonly be found, in particular, in coastal areas of China.
There are different types of reishi mushroom, with several dozen individual species. The one most commonly consumed by people is the red variety of reishi that grows on hemlock trees. However, reishi mushrooms come in a huge range of different colours, from white to purple. They can grow for many years, although they are typically eaten by the time they are about one year old.
Reishi mushrooms are commonly used to make a range of supplements and other products. They are sometimes sold as food, though when consumed in this way they can be tough and a little bitter. As a result, they’re more commonly ground down and consumed in other ways. These methods of consumption include capsules, powders, or in liquidised form. Their advocates claim a range of health benefits for them, and they have been used in the treatment of infections and a variety of other health conditions.
Reishi Mushroom Benefits
Advocates claim a number of purported health benefits for reishi mushrooms. They argue that the mushrooms can enhance the performance of the immune system. According to those proponents, the mushrooms can increase the activity of some white blood cells and better enable the body to fight off some infections and other diseases.
Some people consume reishi mushrooms to help with a range of health conditions, including high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and respiratory ailments. Advocates also claim that reishi mushrooms can help to improve sleep, as well as building overall strength and stamina.
Test-tube studies have indicated that reishi may alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells, which play a vital role in helping your body to fight off disease. This could help to enhance your immune system. Reishi may also have some benefits for cancer patients. According to research, some of the molecules contained in reishi mushrooms can make natural killer cells more active. These cells help the body fight infections and some cancers.
Alternative practitioners argue that reishi has a number of other health benefits. It has been suggested that consuming reishi mushrooms could help to keep blood pressure under control. A study conducted on rats offered some evidence for this. Advocates also say that reishi has antihistamine effects that could help people who are susceptible to allergies. Some researchers found evidence to suggest that it could enhance the body’s supply of oxygen, which may be good news for those suffering from asthma.
However, people with conditions such as low blood pressure or some immune system disorders should consult a medical expert before taking reishi mushrooms. People with low blood platelet counts may be more susceptible to bleeding, so if you’re taking anticoagulant drugs, speak to your doctor about whether reishi mushrooms might be suitable for you.
Reishi Mushroom Dosage
The optimum dosage of reishi mushroom will vary depending on the form in which it is consumed. You should always check the product label prior to consumption in order to get a clear idea of how much you should be taking.
Again, it is always advisable to consult a doctor, particularly if you have existing health conditions and take other medications. That’s how best to reduce the risk of suffering any adverse effects. Your doctor will provide you with expert advice about whether or not consuming reishi mushrooms might interfere with any other medication you happen to be taking.
Reishi Mushrooms and Sleep
Reishi mushrooms are commonly claimed to help sleep. Advocates say that reishi mushrooms can enhance and support the body’s natural sleep cycles, without making you drowsy (reishi is a non-sedative).
Reishi mushrooms are said to serve as very effective adaptogens; a purpose for which they are commonly used in herbal and traditional remedies. This means that they are said to help your body adapt more effectively to stress. Consuming reishi mushrooms in small doses over an extended period, it is said, can help to lower your stress levels and thereby enhance your ability to sleep soundly.
Some preliminary studies have also suggested that reishi mushrooms can help to alleviate fatigue. Particularly in people suffering with conditions such as neurasthenia. There’s also some evidence that the mushrooms could potentially help those who experience mental health issues including anxiety and depression.
How to Use Reishi Mushrooms
As we’ve noted, reishi mushrooms are sometimes sold and eaten as foods, but their texture can be tough and their taste somewhat bitter for most people’s tastes. This is why it’s generally consumed in other forms, such as being used in mushroom coffee or hot chocolate.
Adding Reishi to beverages in this way helps you get the health benefits of taking the mushrooms while taking the sting out of the taste. Decaffeinated coffee and hot chocolate already have a somewhat bitter flavour to begin with, which makes them a good complement for reishi.
Our Reishi Mushroom Hot Chocolate Recipe
For a change from mushroom coffee, you can also use mushrooms in other hot drinks. Reishi mushroom hot chocolate is really easy to make, and it tastes delicious. It should only take you about five minutes to make. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- MAGIC Raw Hot Chocolate (2 tablespoons)
- Almond or coconut milk (1 cup)
- Honey or maple syrup
First, put your milk into a saucepan on medium heat and wait for it to start frothing up. Then add your other ingredients, stirring them for about three minutes. When everything’s blended together smoothly, it should be ready to drink. Pour it into your mug, and savour the flavour!
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s mane mushroom is an edible and medicinal mushroom, and one which goes by a variety of names. These include the bearded tooth mushroom, bearded hedgehog mushroom, monkey head mushroom, and satyr’s beard.
It has a very distinctive appearance from which it derives its various names. It has long spines which are clustered together to form a large, shaggy-looking clump vaguely resembling a lion’s mane. It is native to Europe, North America and Asia, and can commonly be found growing on hardwood.
It is popular for a variety of culinary and medicinal uses. Lion’s mane mushroom is commonly eaten across a range of Asian countries, including China, Korea and Japan. It is said to have a somewhat seafood-like flavour, reminiscent of crab or lobster. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, whether cooked or raw, steeped or dried. It can also be commonly found in health food shops as a supplement, and many argue that it offers a range of health benefits.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits
Advocates claim a variety of health benefits for lion’s mane mushroom. One purported benefit is that it may help to slow the progress of dementia. This is because lion’s mane mushrooms contain hericenones and erinacines. Those are compounds that can help stimulate brain cell growth. Studies in animals have indicated that lion’s mane mushrooms may potentially offer some protection against dementia by reducing symptoms of memory loss and preventing neuronal damage.
Some preliminary studies have also indicated that lion’s mane mushroom can boost brain health by promoting nerve growth. Daily consumption over the course of several months, therefore, may have some beneficial effects for mental functioning. However, more research is needed to back up and confirm these findings.
Other studies on animals have suggested that consuming lion’s mane mushroom may help to ameliorate the effects of anxiety and depression. Again, more human research is required in this area. A study of women experiencing menopause, however, indicated that consumption of lion’s mane mushroom could reduce feelings of tension and irritability.
As lion’s mane mushroom contains antioxidants, it could potentially help to fight inflammation and oxidation. Inflammation can affect a variety of health conditions, such as heart disease, some autoimmune conditions, and diabetes. Lion’s mane mushroom may also help to boost the functioning of the immune system by reducing inflammation and oxidation.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Dosage
As we’ve discussed, lion’s mane mushroom is widely consumed in a range of different medicinal and culinary ways. But because there are relatively few medical studies on the subject, the recommended dosage is unclear. More research is required. However, it is again advisable to talk to your doctor before you start consuming lion’s mane mushroom. They’ll be able to give you some idea about how much you should be consuming, and whether or not there might be any issues relating to other treatments you’re taking. Always check the product label for instructions.
How to Use Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
The fish-like taste of lion’s mane mushrooms makes them quite popular for culinary use. They can be used to make a variety of dishes. If eating them, make sure you cook them until the outer layer is crispy or else you might find the taste bitter.
Lion’s mane mushroom is also available in a number of other forms. It can be consumed as a tablet, capsule, liquid or powder. Lion’s mane supplements are easily obtained online and from health food shops. Follow the instructions on the label carefully and contact your doctor for specialist advice.
Our Lion’s Mane Mushroom Latte Recipe
Mushroom lattes are nutritious and delicious in equal measure. Lion’s mane mushroom latte is very easy to make, and it should only take just over five minutes. You’ll need the following ingredients:
- MAGIC Golden Turmeric Latte (one tablespoon)
- Unsweetened nut or seed milk (2 tablespoons)
- MCT oil (1 tsp)
- Filtered water (1 cup)
Put all of these ingredients into a saucepan and warm them on medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring gently to make sure everything blends together. Once you’re satisfied with the smoothness, put into a blender and blend it on a high setting for about 30 seconds. And that’s all it takes to make a lion’s mane mushroom latte. Enjoy!
Cordyceps is a type of mushroom covering more than 400 different varieties of fungi. They grow abundantly in humid climates and tropical forests, and most cordyceps are native to Asia (including China, Japan, Nepal, Bhutan, Korea and Vietnam).
They are easily recognisable for their thin and tubular shape, and are quite hard to source in the wild. This tends to make wild cordyceps very expensive, although more affordable varieties can also be grown in laboratories.
Most cordyceps mushrooms are endoparasitoids. That means that they grow parasitically on insects and arthropods. They’re commonly used in traditional Chinese remedies and they are said to offer numerous potential health benefits.
Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits
For centuries, cordyceps mushrooms have been used in traditional Eastern remedies to treat a host of health conditions. Those include varied ailments such as kidney disease, fatigue, and sickness. Purported health benefits of cordyceps mushrooms include enhanced exercise performance, anti-ageing effects and improved heart health. There are two types of cordyceps which have been the primary focus of medical studies: cordyceps sinensis and cordyceps militaris (the latter of which is pictured above and below).
Studies on animals have indicated that cordyceps can help to treat a number of health problems. For example, they contain a type of sugar which may be effective in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It’s claimed that the sugar can effectively mimic the role of insulin and keep blood sugar levels in a normal, healthy range.
We’ve already noted that cordyceps have been used for centuries to treat kidney disease, and more recent studies do indeed suggest that it might help to improve kidney function. It is worth noting also that kidney complaints are a common complication of diabetes.
Cordyceps may also be effective in alleviating fatigue and improving sex drive. Animal studies have suggested that they could help to improve memory by increasing antioxidants. Antioxidants can reduce cell damage by neutralising the free radicals that can contribute to it.
Another study discovered that mice fed with cordyceps lived longer than those given placebos, by several months. However, the usual caveat also applies here - more human studies are needed to give us a clear idea of whether they can do the same for people.
With regard to heart health, cordyceps may also have beneficial effects. Already used in China as a treatment for arrhythmia, cordyceps has also been found to reduce heart injuries in rats suffering from chronic kidney disease. As chronic kidney disease is itself understood to be a risk factor in heart failure, it may also help to alleviate this risk. Cordyceps, too, may be effective at helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. That’s by decreasing the level of LDL cholesterol which can lead to a build-up in the arteries.
Cordyceps Mushroom Dosage
A cordyceps dosage of between 1,000-3,000mg is most commonly used in research. Again, however, a lack of concrete information makes it difficult to determine the optimal dosage exactly. Relatively few studies have been carried out on humans to prove how much to take at any given time.
As with any other type of health supplement or remedy, it’s always advisable to check the label first. This should give you some idea of how much cordyceps you should be taking. Dosages matter, however, and factors such as age and pre-existing health conditions can have an effect. If you’re already taking medications, you should speak to your doctor to see whether cordyceps would be suitable for you and how much of it you should be taking. However, in our mushroom coffee and MAGIC line of products, we always make sure to use a safe amount for human consumption based on research.
How to Use Cordyceps Mushrooms
A wide range of cordyceps supplements is available on the market. They most commonly come in the form of capsules, tablets and powders. They are widely available both online and in specialist health food shops. Powdered cordyceps are often blended into protein shakes and smoothies as well as being added to tea or mushroom coffee. Dried whole cordyceps, meanwhile, are used to make extracts and tinctures.
Our Cordyceps Mushroom Latte Recipe
Cordyceps mushroom latte is a delicious, mellow hot beverage. Even better, it can be ready in only five minutes. Here’s what you’ll need:
- MAGIC Matcha Coconut Latte (one tablespoon)
- Maple syrup (1 tsp)
- Almond, cashew or coconut milk (1 cup)
- A pinch of sea salt
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
Put your ingredients into a blender. Once you’ve steamed or heated your milk, add that to the mix and blend for 30 seconds to a minute. You can add extra cinnamon depending on your personal taste - cinnamon will add more spice to your lovely cordyceps latte!
A fungus parasitic on birch and other trees, chaga mushroom is common across much of the Northern Hemisphere. It has long been used in traditional folk medicines. At first sight, it looks more like a cluster of dirt than a mushroom as we would normally think of one. This is because it contains large amounts of melanin, which gives it its black pigmentation.
For many years, chaga has been used to brew beverages such as mushroom coffee and tea. It is commonly dried and powdered so that it can be used in hot drinks. Powders and capsule chaga supplements are also widely available.
Chaga mushrooms are referred to by a variety of names in different parts of the world. These include birch canker polypore, sterile conk trunk rot, clinker polypore, and black mass. It grows parasitically on trees and tends to do best in cooler climates. That’s why it’s found so commonly throughout much of northern Europe, as well as northern parts of North America.
Chaga Mushroom Benefits
Chaga mushroom is said to offer many potential health benefits. It’s rich in nutrients and vitamins, including potassium, vitamin D, amino acids, fibre, calcium, manganese, iron and zinc. Alternative health practitioners also argue that it can help combat a variety of health problems, such as high blood pressure, low blood sugar, arthritis and inflammation. Some research has indicated that there may well be some truth to these claims.
High cholesterol is known to be a major risk factor in heart disease. As chaga mushrooms contain numerous antioxidants, it has been suggested that they could help reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. In addition, studies have indicated that chaga mushrooms may help to reduce inflammation - a natural response of the body’s immune system which can lead, in the long term, to conditions like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Another known risk factor for heart attacks - as well as related conditions such as strokes and cardiovascular disease - is high blood pressure. Advocates claim that chaga mushrooms can help to reduce blood pressure and thereby lower the danger of cardiovascular problems.
Laboratory and animal tests have suggested that chaga mushrooms may help to slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells, as well as making tumour cells self-destruct. This is also due to their richness in antioxidants, which boost the body’s ability to fight off free radicals and oxidants. These can cause cell damage and lead to serious illnesses. However, the findings about chaga mushrooms’ purported anti-cancer properties are only provisional and would need to be backed up by more research.
Alternative practitioners also argue that chaga mushrooms can boost the functioning of the immune system by assisting the production of cytokines. Cytokines help to stimulate white blood cells, which enable the body to fight off infection. Research on mice has indicated that there may be some truth in this. One study suggested that chaga mushrooms might help cells communicate with one another, thereby helping the immune system fight disease.
Chaga Mushroom Dosage
There are no strict scientific guidelines about chaga mushroom dosage. The appropriate level will vary according to a number of factors, including age and pre-existing health conditions. Again, check the label and consult your doctor for advice on whether consuming chaga mushrooms might interfere with any medications you’re taking.
For example, chaga may result in lower blood pressure, potentially affecting people taking anticoagulants. Monitor your own intake carefully and listen to what your body is telling you. That way, you should be able to adjust your consumption levels accordingly where you need to.
How to Use Chaga Mushroom
Chaga mushroom is easily obtainable in a variety of different forms. Bottled tinctures and extracts are widely available, but chaga supplements are rarer. Dried chaga mushroom chunks, tea bags and powders can be found online and in health food stores.
Chaga drinks are much more common than supplements. This is because the fungus is more readily absorbed into the intestines when dispersed in a fermented extract, hot water or alcohol.
Perhaps the most popular way of consuming chaga is by grinding it into a powder which can then be used to make chaga tea. Chunks of chaga mushroom can also be used to make a beverage, but this is quite a time-consuming process for the uninitiated. Leftover chaga tea can be stored in a mason jar, and should be fine to consume for up to three days thereafter. It can also be used to brew mushroom coffee, flavoured with other teas or even used as a base for smoothies, oatmeal and some soups.
Hopefully this guide has given you plenty of food (or drink?) for thought. Maybe you’ve never given mushroom coffee much thought before. There’s a reason, though, why it’s risen so rapidly to popularity. Tasty, nutritious and energising, mushroom coffee is packed with natural, healthy wholesomeness and a mellow flavour. Give it a go and see what you think. You’ll never look at ordinary coffee the same way again!