Coffee is a pretty excellent drink. It’s tasty, it provides a handy jolt of energy and there’s plenty of promising research indicating that it’s good for you in all manner of ways.
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That’s all in the most basic form of black coffee. Generally it only gets more calorific as you ladle in cream, sugar, syrups and whatever else people insert into their morning joe.
And now there’s mushroom coffee. Finnish company Four Sigmatic has created a variety of mushroom coffee blends that, it claims, have numerous health benefits over and above what you get from bog-standard java.
The promise is all the benefits of a normal cup of coffee – increased concentration and energy – minus potential downsides like the caffeine jitters or an upset stomach because of the acidity.
This is achieved by mixing mushrooms such as chaga, lion’s mane and cordyceps in with coffee to create a powder than can be used like instant coffee. This highly concentrated form also ensure there are no bits of mushrooms floating around your mug, which would be off-putting to say the least.
However, when we asked registered dietitian Catherine Collins if there were any particular health benefits to these mushroom coffees, it’s fair to say she was unimpressed.
“In the absence of the company providing more detailed nutritional analysis, no. It’s just another variation on coffee. A mushroom cup-a-soup with a coffee attached. It is lower in caffeine by virtue of it having less coffee per sachet.”
Of course coffee and mushrooms have benefits in and of themselves, but there are easier ways to get them.
“There are caffeic acids, polyphenols, squalenes found in normal mushrooms and in coffee,” says Collins, “but you'd be better off adding a portion of mushrooms to your evening meal. It will cost significantly less, too.”
So there’s no need to head to the woods to find some fancy fungi to drop in your coffee – unless you really want to see what it tastes like. For those who can’t resist the idea of trying Four Sigmatic’s beverages, a pack of ten sachets costs £11.50 on amazon.co.uk.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.