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Should you put ‘magic’ mushrooms in your coffee?

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How effective are these new brain-boosting blends? Sophie Cockerham put five UK brands to the test

For most of us, a steaming cup of coffee is a prerequisite to getting through the morning.

But while everyone knows that a dose of caffeine is a sure-fire way to wake you up, is it the most effective way to keep your energy levels up?

Enter the rise of adaptogenic coffee: your favorite hot beverage infused with herbs and mushrooms, including magic or medicinal mushroom extracts (these types of “magic” mushrooms do not contain the psychoactive components found in illegal ones).

The addition of ingredients like lion’s mane or cordyceps mushroom is said to counteract the cortisol-increasing effects of caffeine.

For people sensitive to caffeine, even the smallest amount of coffee can act as a stressor, causing palpitations, restlessness and anxiety as our heart rate and blood pressure increase.

How effective are these new brain-boosting blends? Sophie Cockerham put five UK brands to the test

How effective are these new brain-boosting blends? Sophie Cockerham put five UK brands to the test

But the theory is that adding an adaptogen (most of these blends offer 1000 mg of mushroom extract) helps increase our resistance to stress. This way you’ll get all the benefits of feeling alert, without the side effects of nervousness.

My brain usually doesn’t activate until mid-morning, but I’m quite sensitive to caffeine and can feel jittery after a white drink. That’s why I’m intrigued by the premise of mushroom coffee.

Research is being done, but so far studies seem to support the idea that taking different adaptogens can have a positive impact on everything from skin health, immunity, mental performance and anxiety, to energy levels, digestive health and sleep quality.

So how effective are these new brain-boosting blends? I put five UK-based brands to the test…

FIND YOUR FOCUS

London Nootropics Flow Blend, £15 for 12 sachets (12 cups, £1.25 per cup, londonnootropics.com)

This coffee, which contains lion’s mane and rhodiola rosea, left a slimy residue at the bottom of the cup, but that didn’t bother me. And the slightly sweet but not overpowering flavor, much like that of a latte, left me happily drinking it every morning.

Going through my accounts to start sorting out my tax return would normally be boring enough to put me to sleep. But I felt able to focus much better after a cup of nootropics, focusing my energy on the task at hand without getting distracted. 4/5

BRAIN SUPPORT

Antioxi Shroom Focus Coffee, £19.99 per 150g bag (38 cups, 53p per cup, antioxi.co.uk)

The blend contains chaga mushroom and turkey tail extracts, as well as 100 percent Arabica coffee, and just a teaspoon mixed with hot water promises to improve brain health.

The coffee has a finely ground texture and I liked the taste. Although I’m not sure how much of my alertness after drinking could be attributed solely to the adaptogens, rather than the caffeine, as I felt more of a traditional high. The after effects didn’t last as long as some of the other blends I tried; Within an hour I was drinking another cup. 3/5

The addition of ingredients like lion's mane or cordyceps mushroom is said to counteract the cortisol-increasing effects of caffeine.

The addition of ingredients like lion's mane or cordyceps mushroom is said to counteract the cortisol-increasing effects of caffeine.

Adding ingredients like lion’s mane or cordyceps mushrooms is said to counteract the cortisol-increasing effects of caffeine.

NO RAINBOW FEVER

Spacegoods Rainbow Dust, £39 for 240g (30 cups, £1.30 per cup, with subscription at spacegoods.com)

Spacegoods promises to provide “focus, productivity and energy”, with ingredients including lion’s mane, chaga mushrooms, maca and ashwagandha roots.

But I didn’t find this cup enjoyable to drink, thanks to its watery hot chocolate flavor, more like a synthetic protein powder. After struggling to finish my drink, I didn’t feel the same “high” as with the other brands. I wouldn’t rush to try this again. 1/5

EXPLORE THE MIX

Merryhill Mushrooms Instant Mushroom Coffee, £7.25 for ten sachets (ten cups, 73p per cup, merryhill-mushrooms.co.uk)

Combining lion’s mane, cordyceps and ashwagandha extracts with instant coffee, Merryhill Mushrooms’ Calibrate Blend sachets were the most similar in flavor to the traditional beverage I normally drank. I loved. I felt very focused, getting through my morning of administration with ease, not once being tempted by other distractions. Since the lift lasted well into the afternoon, I would purchase this one again. 5/5

EXPENSIVE EARTH FLAVOR

Dirtea Super Mushroom Coffee Blend, £39.99 per 150g sachet, (60 cups, 67p per cup, dirteaworld.com

Another all-in-one product that combines lion’s mane, chaga and tremella with ashwagandha and maca. I enjoyed the earthy flavor and felt more awake and productive afterwards. But I felt that the effect was not as long-lasting as others I tried, despite the high price. 3/5

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