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Mushrooms in your coffee? If you’re a confirmed coffee lover, you’re probably shuddering at the thought. Ganoderma, crimini and shitake mushrooms are the latest twist on making healthy coffee for health-conscious coffee lover. According to the word on the street, when you combine these mushrooms – used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine – with rich, flavorful gourmet coffee, you get a tasty beverage that’s good for you. What’s the real scoop on this healthy coffee fad – and more important – how does it taste?
There are a number of brands of healthy coffee made with mushrooms available on the market. These are the big three names and what you can expect.
OrganoGold distributes several different gourmet coffee blends infused with ganoderm lucidum – the spores of the ganoderma mushroom. It claims to use 100% organic coffee and organic ganoderma spore extract. All OrganoGold coffees are marketed more for their healthy coffee qualities than for the flavor – and the reviews on the flavor are mixed. Some people love it. Others note that the instant coffee – which is how all OrganoGold coffee is sold – has a distinct herbal/chemical aftertaste and not a lot of coffee flavor. On the other hand, there’s a lot of positive buzz about the latte and mocha flavors, as well as about the hot chocolate.
Marketed almost exclusively through independent marketers, GanoCafe is made with ganoderma extract and instant coffee. GanoCafe comes in three different flavors – black, 3-in-1 and GanoCafe Mocha. GanoCafe black combines coffee and red mushroom extract. GanoCafe 3-in-1 adds non-dairy creamer and sweeteners to the mix for those that like instant coffees like International Delight, and the GanoCafe Mocha is flavored with Swiss cocoa mix. Like OrganoGold, GanoCafe gets mixed reviews. If you like instant flavored coffee drinks, GanoCafe is pretty tasty – and packs in a lot of healthy nutrients with the addition of ganoderma.
Celebrity chef Ming Tsai got together with Rao’s Coffee Roasters to create a different kind of healthy coffee. Ming’s Maitake coffee combines maitake mushrooms – commonly known as hen-of-the-woods – with the gourmet blend of coffee served at his own Blue Ginger restaurant, and created a real ground coffee that you can brew at home and enjoy just as you do regular coffee. Ming Tsai’s Maitake has been featured on Dr. Oz in a segment on the health-giving benefits of mushrooms, and has garnered positive taste reviews from many in-the-know coffee lovers. Among the many health benefits touted for Maitake mushrooms are cardiovascular benefits and weight loss benefits, as well as lowering cholesterol levels. Ming’s uses all organic coffee and organically grown mushrooms and claims that the natural alkalinity of the maitake mushrooms balances coffee’s natural acidity to create a smooth, low-acid cup of java that’s pure pleasure to drink.
Most makers of Ganoderma coffee tout the health benefits highly, but they all have to include the legalese pointing out that the FDA has not approved any health claims they may make. That doesn’t mean that the health benefits don’t exist – there’s just not enough proof out there to make the claims definitive. If you like instant coffee drinks and want to add an extra punch of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants to the already rich mix of antioxidants that coffee contains, you’ll probably enjoy one of the many Gano coffees on the market.
Ming’s coffee is in a whole other category. The general reviews for flavor are very positive – since the chef’s reputation rides on his recommendation, that’s to be expected. Ming also makes no claims for specific health benefits, but the maitake mushroom’s benefits for cardiovascular health are fairly well documented. If you prefer real brewed coffee to instant flavor packets, Ming’s healthy coffee may be worth a try.