In Europe, we’ve been drinking coffee in various guises since at least the 15th century; the first coffee shop in Britain popped up in 1650 in Oxford. For centuries, we were content with the simple coffee beans, hot water, sugar and milk combination, but the past few years have seen a proliferation of novelty brews.
Chai latte was a huge hit until news of its astronomical sugar content emerged; turmeric latte was named the ‘breakout star’ in Google’s Food Trends report of 2016; and we reached peak avocado with the hideous ‘avolatte’. But in the past 12 months a new trend has been brewing, one that proves millennials’ insatiable appetite for faddish food and drinks knows no bounds.
The latest concoction to delight and rile in equal measure is mushroom coffee. On supermarket shelves and in cafes, we’re increasingly being exposed to the drink, which is purportedly an anti-inflammatory, and is supposed to regulate blood sugar levels and boost metabolism. According to data collected by Hitwise, there has been a 471pc year-on-year spike in searches for “mushroom coffee”, with the bulk from those aged 25 to 34.
Mushroom coffee has been consumed in Northern Europe since at least the 1940s. But it’s only now that there is “enough demand and appetite” for the unlikely pairing in the UK, according to Spence-Ishaq.
Sasha Sabapathy, founder of Glow Bar, highlights the nutritional benefits. “It’s really interesting how we are finally discovering how truly magical mushrooms are. The usual types we eat for supper are all packed with nutrients, but the real super ‘shrooms are the medicinal kind that have been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
“These mushrooms have a range of benefits, from anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting to memory-enhancing. They can be taken in a variety of ways, from tea to tonics, but are especially amazing in your morning coffee as they’re able to help counter effects like the awful caffeine crash or an upset stomach. I love taking our super ‘shroom cordyceps ‘bulletproof’ style, which makes it really creamy and delicious without the heaviness of a latte.”
Like Sabapathy, Philip Inzani, owner of Polo Bar in London, is planning on selling mushroom coffee at his 24-hour cafe. “Wellness is huge at the moment and we’ve noticed a huge gap in the cafe and 24-hour market for coffee and tea with health benefits. It’s usually city workers and young millennials after something with a nutritional benefit attached. We’ve had quite a few requests for mushroom coffee and we are certainly considering it.”
For every proponent, however, there remains a cynic. Novelty coffees are ten-a-penny these days, and though fungus-infused coffee (and tea) is causing a stir with health-conscious 20-somethings, Andrew Knight, founder of coffee roasters Andronicas, predicts the fashion will soon fade.
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