Like most classics, coffee is a beverage that continues to be a firm favourite among many consumers.
As such, roasters will continuously look for innovative ways to make a cup better, tastier, and more appealing to consumers. More so, consumers will continue to serve as inspiration as they experiment with coffee and a variety of additions.
One such innovation that is emerging on the specialty coffee market is mushroom coffee. Essentially, it is the combination of traditional medicinal mushroom extracts with coffee beans, resulting in a beverage that supposedly possesses a wide range of health benefits.
As more mushroom coffee offerings appear on shelves, this may be an interesting opportunity for specialty roasters and coffee shops.
To find out more about the growing popularity of mushroom coffee, I spoke with marketing executive at The Harvest Table, Tamzyn Baker.
What is mushroom coffee?
Since mushroom coffee is the combination of ground mushrooms and coffee beans, the cup tends to be smooth and dark, with nutty or earthy flavours.
Usually, traditional medicinal mushrooms are used for this brew, such as Chaga, Turkey’s tail, Lion’s mane, Reishi, and Cordyceps.
Collectively, these mushrooms are known to help boost energy levels and the immune system, and may support optimal heart health.
The contemporary mushroom coffee market is quite small, limited to North America and Europe. That said, North American is currently the primary market for this offering, with Brain Brands and Four Sigmatic as the leading mushroom coffee brands.
At the moment, there are few statistics regarding the size of the mushroom coffee market, as it is such a niche product and public awareness is relatively low.
However, leading players in the industry are targeting the coffee and superfoods audience through social media and various health food influencers.
More so, international coffee brands, such as Starbucks and Lavazza, may have plans to branch into the mushroom coffee market. This could boost awareness of the coffee, as well as its benefits.
Trend analysts predict consumer interest in mushroom coffee will grow as awareness of the product and production scalability grows.
One of the main avenues for product awareness seems to be social media.
“The mushroom coffee trend is beginning to pick up from just being a niche product with a limited audience primarily because of social media,” explains Tamzyn, who has years of experience in marketing.
“Platforms such as YouTube and Instagram have many videos of vloggers adding different mushrooms to their coffee.”
While mushroom coffee comes with many benefits, it does have some downsides. The price of a 250g to 300g bag of mushroom ground coffee is generally two or three times the cost of regular coffee.
The addition of mushrooms accounts for higher production costs, as high-quality mushroom extracts may cost between $30 and $50 per pound.
Most mushrooms are farmed organically and in small quantities. Therefore, the overall farming methods are more expensive than commercial farming. Additionally, the demand for mushroom coffee is lower than regular coffee, increasing manufacturing, shipping, and marketing costs.
Important to note is consumers on medication or with pre-existing health conditions should consult health practitioners before drinking mushroom coffee, as it contains adaptogens.
How is mushroom coffee made?
Mushroom coffee is made by drying and grinding medicinal mushrooms into a powder.
This powder is then mixed into coffee beans using a ratio of 1:1. It is then packaged as instant or ground coffee, or used in coffee pods.
Consumers can choose to brew mushroom coffee as a latte, mocha, iced, or black coffee as it tends to have a nutty or woody flavour and aroma. To lessen the stronger flavour, consumers can choose to add milk.
“It is obviously the customer’s reference as to the type of milk they use,” Tamzyn says. “However, we’ve found many of our customers like to use our collagen creamer, which is a milk substitute. It gives coffee that great creamy feel with additional health benefits.”
While mushroom coffee tends to be lower in caffeine compared to regular coffee, many consumers may experience longer periods of alertness due to the inclusion of adaptogens.
In herbal medicines, an adaptogen is a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens may also help to balance cortisol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. Therefore, after just one cup, coffee consumers may feel they are better at temporarily handling stress.
Edible mushrooms are rich in fibre and protein. Because of this, mushroom coffee may help consumers feel fuller for longer and contribute to better gut health.
How to roast for mushroom coffee
Roasting coffee beans to add mushroom powder is a technique most roasters will have had to perfect over the years.
This is because many want to avoid adding agents such as adhesives or adherents.
“At Harvest Table, we currently have a rich medium roast house blend,” Tamzyn says. “We add powdered Chaga and Lion’s mane mushroom powders into our ground coffee, and our blends are free of binding agents, flavourants, and additives.”
Different mushrooms will complement certain roast profiles, which requires roasters to experiment with a variety of pairings in order to find the ideal combination.
At Harvest Table, Tamzyn explains a blend of 80% Brazilian and 20% Tanzanian beans works best with the Chaga and Lion’s mane mushroom flavour.
Additionally, the benefits of the selected mushrooms are just as important as their flavour when mixed with ground coffee.
“We chose to add Chaga Mushroom because of its remedy effect on serious health conditions. Plus, it supports a healthy immune and detox response. Lion’s mane is fantastic for neuro health and can help to repair nerve damage.”
For roasters and coffee shops who wish to add mushroom coffee to their offerings, it is essential they choose the right packaging. This is important for food safety and the longevity of the coffee’s shelf life.
When packaging roast coffee, the natural carbon dioxide that is emitted must be able to escape without allowing oxygen to enter the bag. Coffee bags fitted with a degassing valve can help slow down the natural oxidative process that can degrade the flavours of roast coffee.
Many roasters choose to use sustainable packaging materials, such as kraft paper as it is renewable, biodegradable, and compostable. Other popular packaging options include rice paper or multilayered coffee bags made from low density polyethylene (LDPE) or polylactic acid (PLA)
At MTPak Coffee, our kraft paper coffee bags can be made using two or more layers to protect coffee beans from moisture, direct sunlight, oxygen, and humidity.
Our rice paper comes from renewable sources such as Qintan tree bark and bamboo, and can be made with two or more layers to provide additional protection for coffee.
Our LDPE coffee packaging has similar characteristics to traditional plastics, including a long shelf life. Additionally, it can be reused and recycled.
All of our sustainable coffee packaging options can be designed and custom-printed to your specifications using innovative digital printing technology.
We offer a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time, as well as low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile with their packaging options.