I Switched to Mushroom Coffee for a Week. Here’s How It Went.
As a heavy coffee drinker, I was worried about the change to mushroom coffee, but the fungi surprised me.
For years, I’ve started every day with coffee. From Keurig cups to pour-over to espresso shots, I’ve upgraded my coffee game and perfected my morning iced latte with oat milk. But I’d be lying if I said my coffee consumption made me feel perfect. It’s the classic coffee curse: My energy spikes in the morning then drops in the afternoon, leading me to yet another cup of coffee and strengthening my caffeine dependence. But there is another option: mushroom coffee.
Mushroom coffee is a blend of medicinal mushroom extracts, including fungi varieties such as chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps. While many blends also include coffee, mushroom coffee has far less caffeine than the regular cup of joe, but still promises to support energy and focus.
Chula Vista, California-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Naria Le Mire, MPH, says mushrooms have a host of benefits, such as improving immune health and supporting cognitive function. “As a dietitian, I’m always preaching fiber, and mushrooms are foods that not only have fiber, but also have a positive effect on the gut microbiome,” she says.
Many of the fungi varieties found in mushroom coffee are adaptogens, foods that help us manage stress. “Stress can trigger chronic inflammation,” Le Mire says. “One of the properties of adaptogens is it helps adapt to those stressors.”
These health benefits are one reason why the “shroom boom” has been a growing trend for a few years, with mushroom coffee becoming pretty mainstream. The $2 billion market for mushroom coffee is expected to nearly double by 2030, and searches for mushroom coffee grew by 207% in the last year.
With all the buzz about mushroom coffee, I decided to finally give it a try. For one week, I swapped my morning latte for a mushroom coffee drink using MUD/WTR, a Venice, California brand with coffee-free blends. Each day, I tried a different MUD/WTR recipe and put the health promises of mushroom coffee to the test.
I started my mushroom coffee journey with the Iced Mud, an iced latte with MUD/WTR’s original :rise Cacao blend. I also added a shot of espresso to my first drink. MUD/WTR recommends that heavy coffee drinkers don’t go cold turkey and instead wean off caffeine to avoid the negative symptoms of withdrawal, including headaches, anxiety, fatigue, decreased alertness, and depressed mood. MUD/WTR even has a Coffee Detox Program with resources to help.
My first drink was pretty tasty! The blend has a similar taste to coffee, but a spiced, earthy aroma replaces the sharp bitterness of java. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The flavor is subtle, but still masked the taste of the extra espresso shot. I felt focused and energized the whole day, which can be unique for a Monday. I never felt the need to go for a second drink.
This morning, I made the Simple Mud Latte, a hot version of the Iced Mud. I added steamed oat milk and a shot of espresso to continue weaning off caffeine. I enjoyed the hot version, which naturally has a similar flavor to the Iced Mud, but I prefer the iced drink. This was also my first time trying MUD/WTR’s vegan, powdered :creamer which I had left out of the first recipe. Made of coconut milk and MCT oil, the :creamer is a wonderful pairing for the earth tones in the :rise Cacao, and I’ll definitely be adding it to all my mushroom coffee drinks going forward.
My one complaint is the powdery texture of the drink. I noticed it on Monday and tried to whisk it out of the hot drink on Tuesday, but the silty consistency persisted. Turns out, that’s just the nature of mushroom coffee.
“We keep our ingredients natural and simple, which means less water solubility. Cacao, in particular, is not especially water-soluble, which means it suspends in the liquid rather than dissolves and eventually settles to the bottom,” says Elizabeth Limbach, director of communications at MUD/WTR. “We embrace this because the alternative is processing our ingredients so they’re further from their natural state or adding emulsifiers, gums, or other additives—all things we’re committed to never doing.”
Limbach says customers embrace the thick texture of the drink and sediment at the bottom of the glass. In fact, Limbach says they call this sediment “bonus mud” and top it with more water for an extra drink. I’m not the biggest fan of the graininess, but it’s not very noticeable. I can get past it for the natural ingredients and the lasting energy, which I enjoyed again for the entire day.
Today, I truly put the mushroom coffee to the test. I left out the espresso shot for the first time all week. I was nervous I would be hit with headaches and fatigue, but I really felt great! I maintained the energy and focus I’d been enjoying all week without any major dips in the afternoon and evening. The mushroom coffee truly impressed me.
I made the Iced Butter Mud which follows the same recipe as the Iced Mud plus a tablespoon of butter. This might sound a little funky, but I thought the butter would add richness to the drink, and Limbach says any creamer with fat will help smooth the texture. We were both right. The savory butter enhanced the earthy flavor of the mushrooms and created a creamier consistency.
I changed things up today and tried the MUD/WTR :rise Matcha—wow. It was absolutely delicious! If you’re a matcha fan, you have to give this a try. I made the Matcha Iced Latte and instantly fell in love. The earthy mushrooms pair beautifully with the umami flavor in the green tea. It’s subtly sweet and incredibly refreshing.
The best part: The matcha still has all the health benefits of the mushroom coffee. Going on day two with no caffeine, I worried I was pushing things too fast with the matcha switch. But with all the same mushroom varieties found in the :rise Cacao, the :rise Matcha still supplied energy and focus for the entire day. For a matcha blend, this is really a no-brainer.
For my final day of the mushroom coffee experiment, I went back to the classic Iced Mud and added honey this time. The amber sweetness made this mushroom coffee recipe my favorite yet. Going forward, I’ll be making the Iced Mud with only the :creamer and honey, topped with oat milk. Yet again, I made it the whole day coffee-free with plenty of energy and focus.
I have to give MUD/WTR their flowers. I savored each recipe this week, and their products have turned me into a mushroom coffee fan. I can’t say I’m ready to fully give up regular coffee. I’ll always have an affinity for the distinct flavor and familiarity of java. But I will be cutting down on my coffee consumption and adding the Iced Mud and Matcha Iced Latte to my weekly lineup.
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