Cordyceps coffee–a brilliant concoction of coffee and one of the world’s most renowned medicinal mushrooms–is rising in popularity thanks to its purported physical and cognitive benefits. According to some sources, the combination can boost physical endurance, improve focus, protect against free radical damage that causes aging, and much more.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here are the cordyceps mushroom coffee details you need, including the research behind its benefits, how to use it, and more:
Table of Contents
- Cordyceps coffee is a powerful concoction of caffeine and medicinal mushrooms designed to enhance energy and endurance.
- The quality of the cordyceps formula heavily affects the benefits you will experience.
- Cordyceps coffee may have immediate benefits, but its greatest benefits happen over time with daily use.
What is Cordyceps Coffee?
Cordyceps coffee is a beverage made from the medicinal mushroom cordyceps and coffee. Corcyeps was initially discovered by Tibetan herdsmen as a solution for reversing the effects of oxygen deprivation caused by working at such high altitudes.
Cordyceps is actually a mushroom genus, not a single mushroom, though Cordyceps Militaris is the form most often used for supplements and food and beverage products because it can be sustainably produced.
You can learn more about cordyceps by reading “What is Cordyceps?”
It’s important to understand that different cordyceps coffee products use different forms of the mushroom, and these distinct differences greatly impact the quality of the final product. When it comes to medicinal mushroom products, the methods and source materials are everything.
We’ll cover these variations in quality down below (and dig further into how to choose a high-quality mushroom coffee), but first, let’s get a better idea of why cordyceps coffee has become so popular by looking at its potential benefits:
Cordyceps Coffee Benefits (Based on Research)
We mentioned that Cordyceps was originally used in Tibetan medicine to help combat the impact of high altitudes on oxygen levels. Like many traditional uses for Cordyceps, this use centered around the mushroom's potential for enhancing blood flow throughout the body. Still today these circulation-boosting effects are thought to be the primary mechanism behind Cordyceps physical and cognitive benefits.
Additionally, Cordyceps contains a bioactive compound that's unique to its genus–cordycepin. Cordycepin has been linked to various health benefits in preliminary research. A review published in 2020 stated:
“Cordycepin is known for various nutraceutical and therapeutic potential, such as anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemia, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anti-aging, anticancer, antiviral, hepato-protective, hypo-sexuality, cardiovascular diseases, antimalarial, anti-osteoporotic, anti-arthritic, cosmeceutical etc. which makes it a most valuable medicinal mushroom for helping in maintaining good health.”
Cordyceps also contains a variety of beta-glucans and terpenoids, two of the primary bioactive compounds that have been credited for many of the benefits behind medicinal mushrooms.
Let's dig into the research to get an idea of how these compounds may benefit the body:
Boosting Physical Performance and Endurance
Some evidence suggests that Cordyceps may help to increase the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the body, which researchers believe may help to improve physical performance by improving oxygen flow in the body during physical activity.
A 2004 study, for instance, tested the effects of a strain of Cordyceps called Cs-4, or cordyceps Sinensis, on exercise capacity in 30 healthy older adults. 7% of the Cordyceps group experienced increased fitness levels over just 6 weeks, while the placebo group experienced no change.
Some evidence also suggests that it may increase endurance, though more human trials are needed. In a 2016 study, mice were able to continue swimming significantly longer after taking cordyceps. A placebo-controlled study from 2006 confirmed similar results in humans while doing exhaustive running exercises.
Antioxidant (and Anti-Aging) Effects
In Chinese medicine, Cordyceps has been used for centuries to improve endurance and performance (including sexual performance) in elderly people. A 2016 study suggests that these popular anti-aging effects may be due to Cordyceps’ antioxidant properties. Various studies (2009, 2010, 2012) have found that Cordyceps helps to boost antioxidant levels in aged mice, leading to various benefits, like improved sexual function and improved memory.
Balancing Blood Sugar
Various animal studies (2004, 2015, 2016) found Cordyceps capable of decreasing blood sugar levels by mimicking the actions of insulin. This is potentially due to a special carbohydrate found in the mushroom, though more trials are needed to fully understand Cordyceps potential for managing diabetes.
Decreasing Diabetic Risk of Kidney Disease
In a 2014 review of 22 studies, researchers concluded that subjects who took cordyceps often experienced improved kidney function. However, the authors of this review pointed out that many of these studies used were flawed, so more conclusive evidence is needed to understand how effectively Cordyceps could be used in this aspect.
Improving Heart Health
Cordyceps is an approved treatment for heart arrhythmia in China, a condition characterized by an irregular heartbeat, likely because it may increase adenosine, a naturally occurring compound that is also used in medications designed to treat arrhythmia. One animal study found that Cordyceps supplementation may also help to reduce the risk of heart damage caused by kidney disease, subsequently reducing the risk of heart failure.
Lowering Bad Cholesterol
Some evidence suggests that it could also benefit heart health in a less direct way–by helping to manage cholesterol. Some evidence suggests that Cordyceps may help to decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower triglyceride levels, both of which could also have a beneficial impact on heart health.
In addition to having antioxidant properties that can help relieve inflammation, various studies (1996, 2002, 2003, 2015) have pointed out that Cordyceps may help to increase the production of proteins that help to regulate inflammation in the body, therefore helping to decrease inflammation levels.
To learn more about these benefits, read “Cordyceps Benefits"
What Does Cordyceps Coffee Taste Like?
Cordyceps mushrooms are edible and are consumed in different parts of the world as part of a normal diet. The mushroom has an earthy, umami flavor with a soft, buttery texture (when cooked).
Of course, the mushroom is becoming more rare in the wild, so it's more common that you'll find these mushrooms in a processed form, like as a powder or extract. These forms of Cordyceps are most often used in Cordyceps coffee, and they have less flavor than raw or cooked mushrooms.
In other words, the flavor of Cordyceps coffee has more to do with the additional ingredients, like the coffee, sweeteners, additional mushrooms, and more. If you're concerned with flavor, look for an unsweetened Cordyceps coffee without flavor additives. Then, you can add your own creamer, sweeteners, or spices to adjust the flavor to your liking.
How is Cordyceps Coffee Made?
We mentioned that cordyceps coffee can be made in a variety of ways. We will break down some of the techniques used, but be sure to check out the section below on mushroom coffee quality. Not all these methods are useful for producing a therapeutically significant mushroom coffee.
First, the cordyceps can be processed two ways–into an extract or into whole mushroom powder.
Cordyceps powder is simply a ground-up version of the dried mushroom. It contains all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber from the fresh mushroom, but its beta-glucan content is still locked away in the chitin layers that make up the mushroom tissue. Chitin is hard for the body to break down, so the beta-glucans are unavailable to the body.
Cordyceps extract, on the other hand, is a concentrated version of the mushroom’s beta-glucan profile. The extract is made by exposing the mushroom to hot water. This process melts away the chitin and removes the beta-glucans, turning them into an active form that the body can absorb. So, ultimately, extract is more therapeutically significant, and it allows you to get more benefits from smaller doses.
Sometimes companies will use a second extraction technique in addition to the hot water extraction. The second phase is an alcohol extraction, and it's usually poised as “more effective” because the alcohol “removes any compounds that get left behind during the hot water extraction phase.”
What these companies won’t tell you, though, is that alcohol actually kills the bulk of the beta-glucan content, creating an extract material that’s nearly worthless. So, opt for a single hot water extract instead.
Finally, the extract is paired with coffee or other additives that give flavor. In some cases, it may be paired with other mushrooms or supplements to create a more well-rounded product.
Our Mushroom+Nootropic Coffee, for instance, contains a mushroom extract from Cordyceps, Tremella, Maitake, and Lion's Mane, as well as BCAA’s, Alpha-GPC, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, and Ginkgo Biloba. We stack these brain and body-boosting therapeutics on top of real Colombian Coffee with no other additives so you can dress up your coffee just how you like it.
Lucid is designed to bring your brain and body into harmony so you can get to know the real you. Check out our three flavor varieties:
Cordyceps Mushroom Coffee Quality
Keep in mind that cordyceps coffee is considered a food product and a supplement in the U.S., so it is not regulated as strictly as pharmaceutical medications. That means you need to make sure that the product you choose checks some boxes before purchasing, including that it is:
- made from mushroom extract with a verified beta-glucan content, the bioactive compounds behind the health benefits
- Is made from mushroom fruiting bodies, the part of the mushroom with the highest concentration of beta-glucans
- Is made via hot water extraction, which activates and preserves the beta-glucans
- is organically sourced to avoid pesticides and contaminants
You can learn more about mushroom coffee quality by reading this Health-Conscious Consumer’s Guide to Mushroom Coffee.
How to Drink Cordyceps Coffee
Incorporating Cordyceps coffee is easy, although the actual method for preparing your product will depend on the unique formulation. For instance, some Cordyceps coffee products are made with coffee grounds and dried mushrooms that need to be steeped. This type of product may be best made in a French press or similar coffee pot.
Some Cordyceps coffee products are water-soluble, meaning they can be mixed into hot water to create an instant beverage. Then, you dress it up with your favorite creamers or flavor additives.
Lucid is an instant coffee beverage that mixes with hot water. It’s sugar-free and mildly flavored on its own, so it works well with all of your favorite coffee add-ins.
When’s the Best Time to Take Cordyceps Coffee?
Cordyceps coffee may be best consumed in the morning because of its energizing effects. To enjoy its long term benefits, like potential cognition and immune-regulating effects, you'll want to drink Cordyceps coffee every day.
How Much Cordyceps Coffee Should I Drink?
Cordyceps doses used in research vary greatly but rest around 1-3 grams of whole mushroom product in human studies. A review of Cordyceps’ therapeutic potential noted that the dosage used in animal studies ranged from 3 grams per day to 10 grams per kilogram (kg) per day.
When using a cordyceps extract, doses may be much smaller. A study from 2006 used 0.5 grams of Cordyceps Sinensis extract. When pairing cordyceps with other medicinal mushrooms, the dosage may be smaller due to synergistic effects between different mushroom species.
Keep in mind that cordyceps coffee usually contains caffeine, so you need to be wary of the caffeine content if you take additional doses. Most sources say that you should not exceed 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, though some people get the coffee jitters after taking much less.
Does Cordyceps Coffee Have Any Side Effects?
There are very few side effects that have been directly linked to cordyceps. Some people have reported headaches, digestive upset, or allergic reactions when using medicinal mushrooms. Coffee has some potential side effects, too, like digestive upset, excessive urination, dehydration, jitters, anxiety, or even dependence, usually only when used in large quantities.
Who Shouldn't Take Cordyceps Coffee?
Because cordyceps can have an effect on circulation and blood pressure and may interact with some medications, some people should not take cordyceps. Talk to your doctor before taking cordyceps if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is no information regarding the impact of cordyceps supplementation while pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You have an auto-immune disease, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions.
- You have a bleeding disorder. Cordyceps may prevent blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding.
- You are expecting surgery. Since Cordyceps may increase the risk of bleeding, it should not be used before or after surgery.
- You have had allergic reactions to mushrooms previously.
- You have a heart condition.
- You take medications, especially those used to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting, and blood sugar.
Conclusion: Should You Try Cordyceps Coffee?
With Cordyceps coffee and other mushroom coffee blends becoming more common, you're probably wondering if Cordyceps coffee could benefit you. The answer is yes, probably so! Cordyceps mushroom benefits are expansive and can be useful for pretty much anyone looking to enhance endurance and performance.
With that said, however, there are some people who shouldn't take cordyceps, so be wary and always talk to your doctor before trying new wellness products.
Be sure that you grab a high quality cordyceps coffee product to reap the full benefits of this functional fungi. You may want to look at a mushroom blend, or formulas that contain cordyceps and other nootropics that combine harmoniously with the mushroom to enhance its effects.
FAQs About Cordyceps Coffee
Is it safe to take cordyceps everyday?
Cordyceps is generally considered safe for daily use, but it's essential to follow recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any health conditions or concerns.
What to avoid when taking cordyceps?
Avoid exceeding the recommended dosage and using cordyceps as a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment.
Can you take cordyceps on an empty stomach?
Yes, you can take cordyceps on an empty stomach, but individual tolerance may vary, so listen to your body's response.
How quickly does cordyceps work?
Cordyceps effects may vary among individuals, but some people notice benefits within days or weeks of consistent use.
How long do cordyceps effects last?
Cordyceps effects may last for several hours to the entire day, depending on the individual and the specific product used.
Lucid is just that–a mastermind combination of medicinal mushrooms + nootropics that’s designed to unlock the full potential of your brain and body. With cordyceps, lion's mane, L-theanine, BCAA’s, and more, the Lucid nootropic stack is carefully crafted to support energy, focus, endurance, and immunity. It’s a single, delicious morning drink that can help you feel and perform your best. Check out our starter kit below:
- “Cordycepin for Health and Wellbeing: A Potent Bioactive Metabolite of an Entomopathogenic Medicinal Fungus Cordyceps with Its Nutraceutical and Therapeutic Potential” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7356751/#__ffn_sectitle
- “Immunomodulatory Effects of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms and Their Bioactive Immunoregulatory Products” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346759543_Immunomodulatory_Effects_of_Edible_and_Medicinal_Mushrooms_and_Their_Bioactive_Immunoregulatory_Products
- “Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial and assessment of fermentation product of Cordyceps sinensis (Cs-4) in enhancing aerobic capacity and respiratory function of the healthy elderly volunteers” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02836405
- “Effect of Polysaccharide from Cordyceps militaris (Ascomycetes) on Physical Fatigue Induced by Forced Swimming” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28094746/
- “Cordyceps sinensis: Genotoxic Potential in Human Peripheral Blood Cells and Antigenotoxic Properties Against Hydrogen Peroxide by Comet Assay”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27433838/
- “Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18803231/
- “Protective effects on mitochondria and anti-aging activity of polysaccharides from cultivated fruiting bodies of Cordyceps militaris” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21061463/
- “Polysaccharides from the Medicinal Mushroom Cordyceps taii Show Antioxidant and Immunoenhancing Activities in a D-Galactose-Induced Aging Mouse Model” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22536281/
- “The anti-hyperglycemic activity of the fruiting body of Cordyceps in diabetic rats induced by nicotinamide and streptozotocin” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15050427/
- “Hypoglycemic Activity through a Novel Combination of Fruiting Body and Mycelia of Cordyceps militaris in High-Fat Diet-Induced Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Mice” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519550/
- “Antidiabetic and Antinephritic Activities of Aqueous Extract of Cordyceps militaris Fruit Body in Diet-Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Sprague Dawley Rats” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27274781/
- “Cordyceps sinensis (a traditional Chinese medicine) for treating chronic kidney disease” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25519252/
- “Chapter 5: Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92758/
- “Cordyceps sinensis protects against liver and heart injuries in a rat model of chronic kidney disease: a metabolomic analysis” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4814030/
- “Lipid-lowering effect of cordycepin (3'-deoxyadenosine) from Cordyceps militaris on hyperlipidemic hamsters and rats” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21882527/
- “Cordyceps sinensis as an immunomodulatory agent” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8874668/
- “Immunomodulatory functions of extracts from the Chinese medicinal fungus Cordyceps cicadae” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12413710/
- “Methanol extract of Cordyceps pruinosa inhibits in vitro and in vivo inflammatory mediators by suppressing NF-kappaB activation” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12831777/
- “Anti-inflammatory effects of Cordyceps mycelium (Paecilomyces hepiali, CBG-CS-2) in Raw264.7 murine macrophages” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4371127/
- “Functional Cordyceps Coffee Containing Cordycepin and β-Glucan” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7333010/#:~:text=%CE%B2%2DGlucan%20contents&text=The%20%CE%B2%2Dglucan%20content%20of,total%20glucan%20content%20of%209.70%25.