Lion’s mane coffee–a therapeutic beverage made from a rare nootropic mushroom–is gaining traction thanks to purported benefits, like enhanced focus, increased energy, and neuroprotective properties.
If you’re new to the medicinal mushroom game and want all the mushroom coffee details, you’re in the right place. Here’s what you need to know about lion’s mane coffee benefits, how to use it, and more:
Table of Contents
Lion’s mane coffee is a unique way to reap lion’s mane’s cognition and energy enhancing benefits.
The quality of the lion’s mane formula heavily affects the benefits you will experience.
Lion’s mane coffee may have immediate benefits, but its greatest benefits happen over time with daily use.
What is Lion’s Mane Coffee?
Lion’s mane coffee is what you’d think–a beverage made from lion’s mane mushroom and coffee. This mushroomy blend is gaining traction thanks to lion’s mane’s purported health benefits, and because the side effects associated with increased coffee consumption has sent some people looking for a worthy alternative.
Lion’s mane is a white, delicate mushroom that grows on hardwood trees in temperate regions across the globe. It’s characterized by its white, full, hair-like appearance that resembles a lion’s mane. The mushroom itself can be eaten, but it’s hard to find fresh varieties of the mushroom because it spoils quickly, so most people use it in supplement form.
Luckily, a high-quality lion’s mane extract delivers more therapeutic benefits than other forms of the mushroom, which explains why so many people are turning to products like lion’s mane coffee. In fact, it's currently considered one of the best combination nootropics for focus, hence why many people use it to support studying, work, and creative endeavors.
You have to be wary, though. There’s a lot of variation in how a lion’s mane coffee beverage can be made, including different ratios, extraction techniques, flavors, and more. All of these differences affect everything from the taste to the experience (and even the safety) of the mushroom coffee preparation.
First let’s dig into why you may want to give lion’s mane coffee a shot (the benefits) and then we’ll talk about how to choose a high-quality mushroom coffee.
Lion’s Mane Coffee Benefits (Research)
Lion’s mane is the centerpoint of most lion’s mane coffee recipes, but it's true to say that the coffee is responsible for some of the cognition and energy enhancing benefits associated with this type of product. Unfortunately, research has yet to evaluate the combination of caffeine and lion’s mane, but we do know a bit about the benefits that lion’s mane mushroom may have on its own.
Most significantly, research suggests that lion’s mane may stimulate the growth of nerve cells within the brain, spinal cord, and retina. Another study verifies this claim, suggesting that Lion’s Mane extract may speed nervous system recovery by 23-41% in animal subjects.
According to a 2012 study, Lion’s Mane’s antioxidant activity is “moderate to high,” leading many researchers to believe that it may help to prevent age-related cognitive decline by reducing free radical damage. Its brain-boosting benefits don’t stop there–it may also help to improve memory and boost cognition in older adults, though no research has evaluated its effects on young, healthy brains.
Lion’s Mane may also boost the activity of gut bacteria that functions as part of the immune system, strengthening the immune response. Some animal research suggests that lion’s mane may help reduce anxiety and depression and could potentially be used as a treatment for depressive disorders.
Ultimately, the effects of lion’s mane coffee will have a lot to do with the quality of the mushroom extract and the quality and amount of coffee (caffeine) consumed. So, to get the most out of your lion’s mane coffee, you need to choose a great product.
What Does Lion’s Mane Coffee Taste Like?
Lion’s mane is consumed around the world, but is often thought of as a sort of delicacy. The raw mushroom has a short window of freshness, so it needs to be cooked and consumed soon after harvest. People claim that it tastes like a sweet, delicate seafood meat, similar to crab.
Lion’s Mane coffee, however, can take on many different flavors depending on the formula used. If you choose a good product, it will be made with lion’s mane extract, which doesn’t necessarily taste the same as the fresh mushroom. Instead, it has a mild, slightly earthy flavor that pairs well with a high quality coffee.
Check the product you choose to determine the taste–the type of coffee and additional flavor additives will have everything to do with the overall flavor of your lion’s mane coffee.
How is Lion’s Mane Coffee Made?
We mentioned that lion’s mane 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 of these methods are useful for producing a therapeutically significant lion’s mane coffee.
First, the lion’s mane mushroom can be processed two ways–into a lion’s mane extract or into whole mushroom powder.
Whole lion’s mane powder is simply a ground up version of the dried mushroom. It contains all the vitamins, minerals, and the 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.
Lion’s mane 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 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 mushroom extract from Lion’s Mane, Tremella, Maitake, and Cordyceps, 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:
Mushroom Coffee Quality
Keep in mind that lion’s mane 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 Lion’s Mane Coffee
How you should drink your lion’s mane coffee also depends on the variety. For instance, some contain ground coffee that needs to be steeped, so you may make it in a coffee pot or a french press. Most come in the form of an instant beverage, though, so you simply combine it with hot water and dress it up with your favorite creams and sweeteners.
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 lion’s mane coffee?
Most people take lion’s mane early in the day to enjoy its benefits for boosting cognition and energy. If you want to reap the benefits of enhanced neurogenesis (healing of the nervous system) you should take your lion’s mane dose every day.
How much lion's mane coffee should I drink?
The amount of lion's mane you need will vary. You may find that you need smaller doses of lion's mane when taking it alongside other mushroom supplements. This is because they have synergistic effects that can boost each other's benefits.
In research efforts, doses between 500 mg and 3,0000 mg have been used successfully. Of course, the dosage will also vary based on the formula, and the doses needed when using lion's mane extract may be much lower.
Does lion's mane coffee have any side effects?
Lion’s mane research involves both human and animal trials in which the supplement is generally well tolerated. The mushroom was not found to produce any adverse effects in rodents, even when used in high doses. Keep in mind that everyone’s response to lion’s mane coffee will vary. In many cases, side effects are caused by poor product quality and not the Lion’s Mane itself. It’s also important to discuss changes to your wellness routine with your doctor, especially if you already take other medications.
Read "Mushroom Coffee Side Effects" to learn more.
Conclusion: Should You Try Lion's Mane Coffee?
With lion’s mane coffee products beginning to reach so many audiences, you may be wondering if this shroomy blend could benefit you. The answer is yes, probably so! Lion's manes' benefits should work for most healthy people, and the mushroom itself has very few side effects outside of potential allergic reaction in people who are allergic to mushrooms.
So long as you grab a high quality lion's mane coffee product you're in the clear. You may want to look at a mushroom blend, or formulas that contain lion’s mane and other nootropics that combine harmoniously with the mushroom to enhance its effects.
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 lion’s mane, cordyceps, 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:
- Lion's Mane, Hericium erinaceus and Tiger Milk, Lignosus rhinocerotis (Higher Basidiomycetes) Medicinal Mushrooms Stimulate Neurite Outgrowth in Dissociated Cells of Brain, Spinal Cord, and Retina: An In Vitro Study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26853959/
- “Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae)” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21941586/
- “Evaluation of Selected Culinary-Medicinal Mushrooms for Antioxidant and ACE Inhibitory Activities” https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/464238/
- “The Neuroprotective Properties of Hericium erinaceus in Glutamate-Damaged Differentiated PC12 Cells and an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133811/
- “Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237458/
- “Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844328/
- “Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28266682/
- “Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26150007/
- “Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855563/