Spoiler alert: It’s mushrooms.
Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to drop whole spores in your mug or chop up vegetables to blend in your brew. Companies like Four Sigmatic and Longreen have been making easy-to-use pouches filled with instant coffee powder.
The powder comes already infused with mushroom elixirs — so you don’t have to blend some “superfood potion” to experience all the medicinal properties the fungi have to offer. All you have to do is pour the mix into some hot water, stir, and… enjoy?
In all honesty, you can taste the mushrooms in the blend. Many consumers have reported sensing an “earthy” taste or objected after just one sip reminded them of dirt.
However, do you remember when you first tried black coffee? If you’re anything like us, you were disgusted: How could adults drink such a bitter, strong blend? Over time, though, black coffee seduces you into genuine enjoyment. You may even know which roasts taste more favorable and often make the request “no room for milk” — despite the fact that you once would have gagged at the idea. Somehow though, you find yourself spending paycheck upon paycheck at Starbucks on the gross, bitter, strong brew you once hated.
The same happens to drinkers of mushroom coffee. While they experience some dissatisfaction initially, they eventually warm to the taste, even preferring it to normal coffee.
According to most users, these benefits include:
It boosts energy
The powders still contain caffeine, just like ordinary coffee. But these coffee beans are blended together with certain species of fungi that deliver a myriad of practical and holistic health benefits. Despite the fact that the caffeine content is much lower (by over a half) in the mushroom blend, users of the instant coffee have reported a more significant boost of energy than they experienced from their usual cup of joe.
“I find it energizing,” said one reviewer on Amazon. “And my research showed it may help lower cortisol/stress levels.” Cortisol is a stress-causing hormone that causes indigestion, high blood pressure, and even weight gain.
Parading under various names such as reishi coffee, Ganoderma coffee, or simply mushroom coffee, the drinks apparently deliver intriguing medicinal benefits. According to the book Herbal Medicine: Bimolecular and Clinical Aspects, the mushrooms have been used in Asian countries for centuries to treat cancer and additional benefits have been studied in the modern day that suggest improvements to blood sugar, blood pressure, immunity, and liver health.
“I have been drinking it every day for a couple years and I have seen major improvements in my immune system,” says a customer of Longreen.
It’s good for your gut
Normal black coffee is highly acidic. The pH levels can sometimes have an unfavorable effect on your gut by altering the growth and feeding habits of “good” gut bacteria. It’s likely you’ve experienced this firsthand — the laxative effects of coffee aren’t always such a welcome addition to your morning.
However, mushrooms are natural alkaline-boosters, meaning that they bring the pH of your gut back to its more comfortable, less acidic level. This kind of pH balancing is a common practice of health and digestion experts everywhere — it’s the science behind the use of apple cider vinegar.
Whether you replace your coffee with this mixture or just mix it in to a smoothie or two, the benefits could be worth that initially earthy taste. And if you’re still skeptical, you can always try perking yourself up in the morning without any coffee at all.