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Introducing Mushroom Coffee: A Unique Brew with Ancient Roots

Aug 23, 2023 | Coffee

Something new is growing at Orinoco…

Our team recently partnered with Rockville’s Ahara Mushrooms to produce our very first mushroom coffee.

Ahara was launched in 2022 by the father and son team of Ajay and Dr. Subhas Malghan. In short order, it not only achieved a USDA organic certification but has also provided its goods to multiple Michelin-rated restaurants throughout the DC area.

While the roots of mushroom coffee can be traced back centuries to regions like Asia and Europe, the trend has had a resurgence in recent years, catching the attention of 21st-century enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers alike.

Thanks to the combined familiarity and comfort of America’s favorite beverage with the added benefits of medicinal mushrooms, mushroom coffee is back – and bigger than ever.

Coffee enthusiasts can now enjoy their favorite brew while reaping the advantages of mushrooms like lion’s mane, Chaga, and reishi, each offering its distinct advantages.

About Ahara and Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Ahara specializes in Lion’s mane mushrooms, the medicinal properties of which have been shown to reduce the effects of inflammation, anxiety, depression, and so much more.

“The technical name for Lion’s mane is Hericium erinaceus,” Ajay Malghan explains, adding that both the fruiting body – the big, white poofy pom-pom lion’s mane is known for – and the mycelium, or root-like structure, are required to get all of the mushroom’s most beneficial compounds.

“It’s called the entourage effect,” Ajay says. “That’s where you get your anti-inflammatory properties, your nerve growth factor. It can repair synapses and damage that has occurred through different ordeals in life.”

Ajay speaks from experience. He first discovered Lion’s mane years after a battle with leukemia, while searching for a way to counteract the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.

“I had intense brain damage from chemotherapy many years ago. They had to give me seven spinal taps to go in and kill every brain cell. Good or bad, you can’t make that choice.”

Still, Ajay was determined not to let fallout from the disease get the better of him.

“I couldn’t just sit there and say, ‘Well, that’s life and I’m just going to slowly deteriorate.’ I needed something more proactive than that. I almost think the lion’s mane found me rather than the other way around.”

After making his recovery, Ajay had a strong desire to engage with his community, and after years of remote work during COVID – an idea began to blossom.

“I felt like I was just going to watch time pass by from my office, and it wasn’t something that I could see being sustainable, long-term. I wanted to do something that I could invest myself in, physically, mentally, and spiritually – and I love mushrooms. This was one of the few things that the first time I did it, it clicked. I’d only experienced that feeling with photography and painting. This was the perfect melding of art and science. You can eat them, they’re medicinal, there were so many upsides – it was just something I had to follow through on. It was undeniable.”

The Health Benefits of Mushroom Coffee

Some of the most ardent coffee lovers remain on the fence about trying the mushroom coffee trend, due to the air of mystery that surrounds the admittedly odd-sounding brew.

For his part, Ajay cops to getting strange looks from people when he tells them he’s growing mushrooms.

“They immediately think ‘psychedelic,’” he says.

But once consumers connect with the rejuvenating aspects of this beverage, they’re often quick to tell others about it.

Ajay stresses that Lion’s mane – and all medicinal mushrooms – are not a cure-all. Still, their role in helping him recover from the long-term effects of chemotherapy contributed to his well-being – AND the foundation of Ahara.

“I’m not going to say you just take a drop of lion’s mane and your life comes together,” he says. “I meditate and exercise every day and watch my diet. I’ve been sober for four years. There are all of these different components, and I feel like Lion’s mane was that thing that glued it all together. It’s kind of a privilege to be around them for that reason.”

Indeed, many of today’s enthusiasts bang the drum for this brew due to the following boosts it is said to provide, including:

  • Enhanced Brain Function: As mentioned, the compounds found in lion’s mane mushrooms have been linked to improved cognitive function, memory, and focus. They are said to stimulate the growth and regeneration of brain cells, promoting mental clarity and alertness.
  • Immune System Support: Certain mushrooms, such as chaga and reishi, are also believed to possess powerful immune-boosting properties. They are rich in antioxidants and beta-glucans, which help strengthen the immune system, protect against oxidative stress, and support overall well-being.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Inflammation is a natural response of the body, but excessive or chronic inflammation can lead to various health concerns. Some mushrooms found in mushroom coffee, like chaga and reishi, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, potentially aiding in reducing inflammation and supporting a healthy inflammatory response.
  • Increased Energy and Stamina: Coffee is already renowned for its ability to provide an energy boost, and mushroom coffee takes things a step further. The combination of coffee’s natural caffeine content with the adaptogenic properties of mushrooms can offer sustained energy throughout the day without getting the jitters.
  • Gut Health Support: Mushroom coffee made with reishi may help support a healthy gut microbiome. They contain prebiotic fibers that can nourish beneficial gut bacteria, promoting a balanced digestive system and overall gut health.
  • Natural Stress Relief: Reishi is also said to possess adaptogenic properties that may help the body adapt to stress and promote a sense of calm and relaxation. Incorporating mushroom coffee into your routine may provide a soothing effect and support overall well-being.

How is Mushroom Coffee Made (and What Does it Taste Like)?

The process begins with carefully selected premium coffee beans. These beans are then blended or infused with powdered mushrooms. The result is a well-balanced and flavorful cup of coffee with subtle earthy undertones that complement the robust coffee profile. The art of combining these ingredients ensures a harmonious brew that delights the senses.

In fact, despite the inclusion of mushrooms, the flavor of mushroom coffee does not mimic the distinct flavor of the food itself. Instead, the mushrooms lend a subtle, harmonious, and slightly earthy note to the overall coffee experience.

Ajay strongly believes consumers should be more connected to the things they put in their bodies. “I wanted to be a source for that,” he says. “I bought every brand of mushroom coffee on Amazon to see what was out there. And it was wild, what you would get back. I don’t know that there was very much mushroom in any of them. Most were just sawdust coming from abroad. There was no quality control.”

Sourcing the finest ingredients possible was the key, he says. And that was Orinoco.

“Orinoco stands out,” he continues. “Any display I’ve ever seen. As an artist, I’m a huge fan of brilliant design and drawn to anything beautiful. Orinoco’s product is matched by its design, and it’s an incredible thing to witness when it all just clicks. I loved their coffee to begin with, and adding the lion’s mane to it just made it that much better.”

There are so many mushroom coffees available on the market today, and varying degrees of quality.

“You often don’t know what you’re getting,” Ajay says. “Maybe the company didn’t grow the lion’s mane, or the chaga, or the reishi… they just sourced it from someplace. They never actually touched the product. With Orinoco, you’re getting something that’s one degree removed from the farmer – which, to me, is the best possible way to get your medicine or your food.”

With mushroom coffee from Ahara and Orinoco, the proof is in the lion’s mane pom-pom, so to speak.

“Here, we’ve put a specific amount of fruiting body in there, so everyone is getting the most value for their buck. We’ve put everything we have into this. And I think it shows. It shows.”

* As always, it is important to discuss any diet or lifestyle changes with your doctor, as mushroom coffees – and medicinal mushrooms, in general – may not be a good fit for everyone.