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There’s one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. And no, it’s not my 7 a.m. yoga classes or sunrise runs. It’s coffee. Starting my day with a cup of joe puts me in a good mood, wakes me up, and gives me the energy I need to actually make it to through those early morning practices. But that boost tends to be fleeting.
Like clockwork, around 3 p.m., I find my eyes drooping as I read the same sentence over and over again. In the past, I’ve tried a range of solutions: getting fresh air, drinking another cup of coffee, stretching, or meditating. Yet, nothing seems to give me energy without leaving me feeling overstimulated. That is, until I tried mushroom coffee—and experienced its benefits firsthand.
What exactly is mushroom coffee?
If you think that mushroom coffee means your local barista is chopping up shiitake mushrooms and adding them to your soy latte, you’d be mistaken. The four most common mushrooms used in coffee blends are reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, and cordyceps, according to the Cleveland Clinic—all of which are known to have medicinal benefits. Typically, mushroom coffee is made by blending together dried mushrooms with drip or instant coffee, creating a beverage that actually tastes like coffee and contains less caffeine.
The potential healing power of mushrooms is hardly new. People have tapped the health benefits of mushrooms throughout history for their ability to treat allergies, help achieve hormonal balance, improve sleep and immunity, boost your focus and creativity—and even increase the shininess of your hair. With a list like that, I had to try it.
Beverage maker ReNude crafted a mushroom coffee called the “Chagaccino”—a mushroom-infused mocha made with 750 milligrams of chaga, a type of mushroom rich with antioxidants. On its website, ReNude lists the benefits of its mushroom coffee as offering stress relief, boosting immunity, increasing endurance, and improving cognitive function. Before I tried this mocha mushroom drink out for myself, I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical. Was a mushroom-coffee drink really going to make such a difference?
Since I wasn’t ordering the Chagaccino at a coffee shop, I was left to make my own at home. One box comes with 10 single-serve packets, each of which contains chaga, cacao, ceylon cinnamon, and monk fruit. You can opt to make the Chagaccino with espresso or drip coffee. Since drip coffee is my tried-and-true, I decided to use that as my base. I brewed a cup of hot caffeinated coffee, mixed in a Chagaccino packet and stirred in some almond milk. I found myself craving a cold beverage, so I opted to pour my Chagaccino over ice.
Did the benefits of mushroom coffee materialize?
The Chagaccino itself tasted good (one of my roommates compared it to drinking a hot chocolate), but I remained focused on the supposed benefits of the mushroom coffee. While I can’t speak to the anti-aging claims (at 22, my skin is still relatively young), other benefits of the mushroom coffee certainly materialized. I felt more focused, attentive, and energized within about 30 minutes of finishing my Chagaccino. In the past, when I chugged an afternoon espresso, I felt jittery and overstimulated. I wouldn’t be able to be productive and get any actual work done—plus I would struggle to fall asleep that night. This was not the case with the mushroom mocha.
I attribute some of this to its calming benefits. I felt more at ease than I was earlier in the day, was able to get my work done in a timely manner without the increased anxiety that can accompany late-afternoon caffeination. And it wasn’t just me. My roommate, who served as my mushroom-coffee-testing companion, echoed this sentiment—the drink also made her feel less stressed.
To ensure this wasn’t a Monday afternoon fluke, I integrated the mushroom coffee into my daily routine. Throughout the rest of the week, the Chagaccino continued to help me beat my afternoon slump, leaving me more energized, focused—and less stressed. Now, when 3 p.m. rolls around, I enjoy a delicious mushroom mocha and power through the rest of my day. What could be better?
Try it: ReNude’s Chaggaccino, $29.99 for 10 packets