Five years ago I was vaguely aware that brown mushrooms were quite good for you, especially when cooked.
Like most of my knowledge on nutrition and positive health practices, I assumed that my digestive system filed each mineral and nutrient like a semi-retired Australia Post clerk, getting them where they needed to go. Vegetables were good, sugar was bad. A half-remembered food pyramid comes to mind from back in the days of high-school home-economics, where I somehow managed to fail the assessment of making a scrambled egg breakfast bun.
All my life, half-truths and barely explained nutritional facts have made up most of what I eat and drink. Mushrooms and coffee would have sounded about as good as half a potato in my hot chocolate.
I'm no Bio-Hacker (see Dave Asprey), but I've always been interested in what makes healthy and unhealthy intake. As it turns out, just about everything on supermarket shelves is less-than-healthy. And from what seemed like left of field, mushrooms turned out to be some of the healthiest health products we currently know of.
In layman's terms, there are certain mushrooms that have a very positive effect on immunity, cognitive longevity and cellular responsiveness. There are also some mushrooms that will shut down your kidneys, and some mushrooms that will shift your consciousness through inexpressible joy for several hours. The medicinal ones turned out to be the most practical to add to coffee for the time being, a sentiment that I’m sure is shared by numerous cultures in Northern Europe that have drunk mushroom-infused coffee for centuries.
Arctic chaga, reishi and turkey tail for instance all grow as part of a healthy forest ecosystem, and are all fantastic sources of compounds of polysaccharides - complex strings of molecules that are steadily becoming more notable in mainstream health sciences. Researchers Michael Lim and Shun Yu describe the convenient relationship between our bodies and the molecular ingredients endemic to certain medicinal mushroom species: “Picture a lock and key: when we consume beta-glucans, they fit into specific receptor sites in our immune system and activate our immune cells, which hunt for pathogens and cancerous cells in the body. Stimulating them encourages the body’s innate healing and defence responses…This means medicinal mushrooms support nearly all the body’s major systems and allow you to perform at full potential.” Not bad. There’s also an element of mystery to fungi; the kingdom we’ve only really studied since the 1980’s. The mushrooms we see are only the reproductive tool of a vast underground network of thin filament-threads, called mycelium. These networks are so dense in the natural world that scientists identified a mycelial network in Oregon as actually being the world’s largest living organism, knocking the blue whale off the top spot. Colloquially known as ‘The Humongous Fungus’, it’s lived approximately in the same area for 10,000 years. This fascinating underground web feeds on decomposing matter and transfers nutrients between plants - trading chemical resources in a way that Dr. Suzanne Simard famously described as ‘The Wood Wide Web’ in 1997’s Nature Journal. Interestingly, the visual makeup of mycelium mirrors the structure of human neural networks, giving an interesting anecdote on the linkage between human and natural systems. Engineering and waste disposal are key topics that are currently being explored by industry looking to harness the powers of mushrooms for sensible purposes like plastic recycling and sustainable building, but we won’t get into that now. To conclude; we think that mushrooms are sexy, and go well in coffee.
It’s worth mentioning that the humble coffee bean contains some useful compounds that assist in heart and neural disease prevention, just so that mushrooms don’t take all the credit for health benefits.
Anyway - we pride ourselves on delivering a healthier coffee, and although we've probably only scratched the surface on how the mushroom kingdom can link itself to our lives, we're happy to share the knowledge with you.