Lonely Planet Writer

Mushroom Coffee is the medicinal brew of the moment - here’s where to find it in NYC and LA

Mushroom coffee is getting more and more buzz. But before you grimace at the thought of grilled portobellos floating in your latte – hear us out. While countries like India and China have been incorporating medicinal mushrooms in tea, tinctures, and soups for thousands of years to harness their myriad of benefits, the idea of drinking them is only now slowly becoming more mainstream for the health-conscious population as a whole.

Mushroom coffee is gaining popularity. Image by Four Sigmatic

The most prominent medicinal mushrooms are reishi, Lion’s Mane, Chaga, and Cordyceps. Not only do they have potent superfood qualities, they are also adaptogens. An adaptogen essentially helps the body metabolise stress as an energy source, while simultaneously boosting everything from mood to libido. For Tero Isokauppila, founder of leading mushroom powder brand Four Sigmatic, adding one of the aforementioned powdered ‘shrooms’ into his morning kickstart was a no brainer. Afterall, caffeine can cause jitters and energy spikes, so the addition of a balancing mushroom can help counteract the strain that coffee can have on the body.

Aficionados say there are health benefits to the drink. Image by Four Sigmatic

The Finland-born health guru grew up foraging for mushrooms on his family farm, and has long been aware of their anti-inflammatory, wellness enhancing, and immune-boosting benefits. “When people first heard the words “mushroom” and “coffee” put together, it was met with a healthy dose of skepticism,” Four Sigmatic Brand Manager Brittany Seymour told Lonely Planet. “Once people realized our products didn’t actually taste like mushrooms, they fully embraced the concept and we now have a passionate community spreading the ‘shroom love. Our whole mission is to make the world’s most potent superfoods easily accessible and discoverable to the general public – what’s more accessible than a cup of coffee or mug of hot cacao,” she added.

Noticing the massive rise of interest, Four Sigmatic dubbed 2018 “The Year of the ‘Shroom” and opened up Shroom Room on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California. The bright, whimsical space is a place for both passionate “funguys” and those new to the trend; a coffeehouse where Chaga chais, Cordyceps lattes, and Lion’s Mane matcha teas are all on the menu. In Venice and Los Angeles, those interested in elevating their day-to-day smoothie can head to one of Amanda Chantal Bacon’s Moon Juice shops. Opt for the Vanilla Fig Fix, a “supermushroom stamina shake” which incorporates dried Turkish figs, coconut nectar, Cordyceps, Chaga, vanilla, pink salt, and activated almonds; a cosmic-inspired blend that might just propel you into a mystic state of mind.

The coffee doesn’t actually taste like mushrooms. Image by Four Sigmatic

On the East Coast, thanks to powders from brands like Four Sigmatic and Chantal’s Moon Dust, more cafés, eateries, and apothecaries are able to offer adaptogenic coffees, cocoas, and blends. At Manhattan’s Lower East Side wholesome haven the Alchemist’s Kitchen, many of the tonics, elixirs, and smoothies on offer are incorporating medicinal mushrooms. Case in point: the Elderberry Immune Boosting Shot, a mix of elderberry, ginger, astragalus, Lion’s Mane, maitake, vanilla, and – for good measure – a dash of brandy.

Because, you know, balance.