Mushroom Coffee Craze: Brewing Up Health Benefits or Hype?

Mushroom Coffee

Have you heard of mushroom coffee? It’s a trendy beverage people are drinking as an alternative to regular coffee. So, what is it and what makes it special? Mushroom coffee is a blend of coffee beans and medicinal mushroom extracts. You get a caffeine boost when you drink it, but it also has potential health benefits due to the antioxidants and adaptogens it contains.

As you know, mushrooms contain a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. The drink promises to deliver the pick-me-up of traditional coffee, while also nourishing the body with the beneficial compounds found in these fungi.

But is mushroom coffee all it’s cracked up to be or is it just another health fad that will fall by the wayside when the next beverage fad comes along? Let’s look at the potential upsides and downsides of adding this fungi-infused brew to your morning routine.

The Potential Benefits of Mushroom Coffee

Before jumping on board the trend, let’s explore what science says about mushroom coffee. The mushrooms in mushroom coffee are medicinal mushrooms including:

  • Lion’s mane: Some studies suggest lion’s mane benefits brain health.
  • Chaga: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
  • Reishi: May be beneficial for managing stress.
  • Cordyceps: This may support athletic performance due to its effect on energy level and metabolism.
  • Turkey tail: Some sources say turkey tail is beneficial for gut health, possibley due to prebiotic properties.

Impact on Immune Health

Functional mushrooms like chaga, cordyceps, and reishi are rich in polysaccharides and beta-glucans. These are types of carbohydrates that modulate inflammatory pathways. There’s also evidence they support and balance the cells that make up your immune system. Although regular coffee contains antioxidants, combining coffee with mushroom extracts takes the antioxidant content to a new level.

Studies show that mushrooms of all types have immunomodulatory properties, meaning they help balance the activity of immune cells that fight infection and reduce inflammation. This could come in handy during the winter months when you’re bombarded with coughing and sneezing people carrying respiratory viruses. Research shows mushrooms have documented anti-viral activity.

Less Caffeine for Sensitive Drinkers

Does coffee give you the jitters? Switching to mushroom coffee could help you feel calmer. When manufacturers make mushroom coffee, they replace some of the coffee beans with decaf coffee beans and mushroom extracts. So, you’re getting less caffeine in every cup. There’s also evidence that the amino acids and adaptogenic compounds in the mushrooms blunt the stimulating effects of caffeine.

Cognitive Support

Early studies find that compounds like cordycepin, ergothioneine, hericenones, and beta glucans in mushroom varieties like lion’s mane, cordyceps, and reishi support nerve and brain function. While this is encouraging, drinking mushroom coffee isn’t the same as taking targeted mushroom supplements that have a high concentration of the active compounds in mushrooms. That’s usually what they use in studies. Still, you could get a modest cognitive boost if these studies hold true.

Potential Anti-Cancer Effects

Mushrooms won’t cure cancer. However, they contain compounds with anti-cancer activity in laboratory tests. These include glucans, triterpenoids, and other compounds with antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-tumor effects, based on early research. These bioactive compounds alter tumor growth through various pathways and mechanisms. Scientists are still looking at the role these compounds play in tumor growth, so we need more research. Could they play a role in preventing cancer? Only time (and further studies) will tell.

Potential Downsides of Mushroom Coffee

As with any food or beverage, mushroom coffee has drawbacks and potential downsides. Let’s take a closer look at those.

Limited Evidence on Specific Benefits

Some foods and food components can have benefits in a laboratory setting but not in the human body. So, don’t be too quick to jump on the mushroom coffee bandwagon. We need more research on mushrooms and whether drinking mushroom coffee offers a high enough concentration of these compounds to offer health benefits.

Digestive Issues

Most people can tolerate mushrooms, but individual responses to foods vary. Some people experience digestive discomfort like gas, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming mushroom powder or mushroom coffee. Mushrooms contain chitin, a type of fiber, in their cell walls. Chitin can be hard to digest. If you have digestive issues, proceed with caution when you drink mushroom coffee. See how you respond to small quantities before making it your go-to drink.

Higher Cost

As with most trendy beverages, mushroom coffee is harder on the wallet. You might pay up to three times more for mushroom coffee than you would for regular coffee. So, it’s not as budget friendly. And don’t forget, you can also get nutritional and potential health benefits by eating whole mushrooms.

Loss of Nutrients During Processing

Since medicinal mushrooms are dried, powdered and undergo extraction and heating to make mushroom coffee, they lose some nutritional value compared to freshly prepared mushrooms. This could limit potential immune and cognitive benefits.

Allergic Reactions

Unlike common allergens, like peanuts, seafood, and soy, allergies to mushrooms aren’t common. Still, they can occur. If you’re allergic to mushrooms, you could also experience an allergic reaction when you drink mushroom coffee. If you have a known allergy to mushrooms, choose another beverage.

The Verdict: Proceed With Caution

Mushroom coffee shows an early promise for combining the lift of coffee with inflammation-fighting, immunomodulatory and neuroprotective mushrooms, but we need more research into its health benefits and potential downsides. With higher cost and potential digestive side effects, mushroom coffee may put a strain on your wallet. And don’t forget – whole mushrooms offer higher concentrations of bioactive compounds, as they’re unprocessed. So, look for them in the produce aisle.

Until we know more about the health benefits of mushroom coffee, drink it if you enjoy it, but don’t sip it exclusively for its health benefits. We need more information about this trendy beverage. Also, check with your doctor if you have any medical condition or take medications before trying this fungal brew.


  • Should you switch to mushroom coffee? Uclahealth.org. Published 2023. Accessed January 18, 2024. uclahealth.org/news/should-you-switch-mushroom-coffee
  • Is Mushroom Coffee Worth the Hype? An Expert’s Take. Healthline. Published May 12, 2021. Accessed January 18, 2024. healthline.com/nutrition/mushroom-coffee
  • “Medicinal mushrooms: Clinical perspective and challenges.” 01 Feb. 2022, sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1359644621004980.
  • Venturella G, Ferraro V, Cirlincione F, Gargano ML. Medicinal Mushrooms: Bioactive Compounds, Use, and Clinical Trials. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 10;22(2):634. doi: 10.3390/ijms22020634. PMID: 33435246; PMCID: PMC7826851.
  • Yu S, Weaver V, Martin K, Cantorna MT. The effects of whole mushrooms during inflammation. BMC Immunology. 2009;10(1). doi:://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2172-10-12.
  • Arunachalam, Karuppusamy, Sreeja Puthanpura Sasidharan, and Xuefei Yang. “A Concise Review of Mushrooms Antiviral and Immunomodulatory Properties That May Combat against COVID-19.” Food Chemistry Advances 1 (October 1, 2022): 100023–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.focha.2022.100023.

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