Fungi and games: ’Shrooms are the new avocado latte
Mushroom coffee is the latest millennial food fad
People have been drinking coffee in various guises since at least the 15th century. For centuries, we have been content with the simple coffee beans, hot water, sugar and milk combination, but the past few years have seen a proliferation of novelty brews.
Chai latte was a huge hit until news of its astronomical sugar content emerged; turmeric latte was named the breakout star in Google’s Food Trends report of 2016; and we reached peak avocado with the hideous avolatte. But in the past 12 months a new trend has been brewing, one that proves millennials’ insatiable appetite for faddish food and drinks knows no bounds.
The latest concoction to delight and rile in equal measure is mushroom coffee. The drink is purportedly an anti-inflammatory and is supposed to regulate blood sugar levels and boost metabolism. According to data collected by Hitwise, there has been a 471% year-on-year spike in searches for “mushroom coffee”, with the bulk from those aged 25 to 34.A typical example doesn’t feature commonly eaten mushrooms such as portobellos or chanterelles, but fungi like the chaga mushroom, a parasitic fungus from birch trees; reishi, used medicinally in traditional Chinese medicine; and cordyceps, which grow on insects. All three have long been used in skincare, and now they’re being made into coffee.
Mushroom coffee tends to be a blend of regular ground coffee mixed with a powdered fungus, which provides an earthy taste to the drink. To make it more palatable, it’s often sold with milk or a milk variant and a sweetener.
“Shroom latte” can be too earthy for some, both in taste and smell, which overpowered what was probably very good coffee. The colour and texture are like a regular latte but there are fungal overtones which strengthen as the drink cools.“It’s really interesting how we are finally discovering how truly magical mushrooms are. The usual types we eat for supper are all packed with nutrients, but the real super ’shrooms are the medicinal kind that have been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
“These mushrooms have a range of benefits, from anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting to memory-enhancing. They can be taken in a variety of ways, from tea to tonics, but are especially amazing in your morning coffee as they're able to help counter effects like the awful caffeine crash or an upset stomach,” says Sasha Sabapathy, founder of Glow Bar in London.
For every proponent, however, there remains a cynic. Novelty coffees are ten-a-penny these days, and though fungus-infused coffee (and tea) is causing a stir with health-conscious 20-somethings, Andrew Knight, founder of coffee roasters Andronicas, predicts the fashion will soon fade.Studies on the health benefits of the fungi used in mushroom coffee are promising. Chaga is thought to be rich in several vitamins, minerals and nutrients, including Vitamin D, potassium and B-complex vitamins. According to studies at the University of Malaya in Malaysia, anti-inflammatory compounds in mushrooms could help combat dementia.
© The Daily Telegraph