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A brick building painted black with a black awning that says BeShroomed Farms Mushroom Coffee. Rukiya Colvin

Detroit Gets Its First Taste of Mushroom-Infused Coffee at This Eastside Cafe

Folks looking for an alternative to caffeinated beverages can find a boost in this brew

On a fall day in October, an emerging trend made official landfall in Detroit. Located at 16555 Harper, west of Whittier at the border of the East English Village neighborhood, BeShroomed Farms offers coffee drinkers an alternative in the form of mushroom coffee. Though it’s the first of its kind in the area, mushroom coffee is a growing market and the product has gained popularity in recent years across the country for the fungi’s purported restorative qualities.

“It’s not only a fresh cup of coffee, but it has the [medicinal] benefits of mushrooms,” says founder Osotrari Washington, “so you’re actually getting something with your coffee in the morning as opposed to just caffeine.”

The space is presented as an on-the-go destination with a self-serve area and checkout window for daily commuters. An adjacent display features light snacks, merchandise, and bagged ground coffee for those who’d want more than a cup once visiting. A separate area houses the indoor mushroom farm where turkey tail, reishi, and lion’s mane mushrooms are grown in fruit bags that hold the mycelium that produces the mushroom fruiting body.

“Have you had mushroom coffee before?” asked owner Osotrari Washington upon a customer entering BeShroomed Farms for the first time after learning of its opening.

Upon entering, customers are welcomed with the typical smells of coffee, though the blends aren’t quite what people are used to. Four different coffee blends are available — each is said to offer unique benefits: Turkey Tail, Lions Mane, Reishi, and the Trinity, which combines the three mushrooms. The self-serve counter allows customers to take their pick after being informed of the blend differences based on their purported health benefits.

“Most people drink coffee every day. So I wanted to get those three [mushrooms] inside of them every day,” Washington says. Mushroom enthusiasts like Washington claim that reishi boosts the immune system and promotes relaxation, turkey tail fights cancer and promotes good health, and lion’s mane is good for brain function.

The blends are similar in taste to the average cup of coffee, yet include a distinct earthy flavor that bounces back after the first few sips and made more pronounced by the aroma. Like traditional coffee, drinkers can add whatever kind of milk product or sweetener they prefer.

The growth in curiosity in the restorative qualities contained in mushrooms in recent years can be attributed to social media platforms such as TikTok and has been driven by a growing demand for alternatives to caffeine. Experts say that the market for mushroom products will only continue to grow in the coming years, with some predicting that the market could become a $4.3 billion industry by 2032.

Capitalism aside, the medicinal use and consumption of mushrooms have existed in Asia since ancient history and has prevailed worldwide ever since.

A smaller presence of the mushroom community growing in Detroit means debunking myths of what it means to consume the fungi — whether psychedelically, medicinally, or of the culinary essence. It means providing education for people to become better educated on how to move forward with them rather than move in fear or within assumption. It means thinking differently of how we move through our daily routines, starting with what we have in our cups during our days of mundaneness.

A longtime devotee of mushrooms, Washington began experimenting with B+, a psychedelic strain, more than 25 years ago to gain heightened spiritual awareness toward his strive within the ancient martial arts practice. “A lot of the fighting becomes easy,” he said. “But once you engage in the entheogenic aspect of martial arts, there’s a lot of spiritual connection and ancestral connections.”

From there, his exploration led to studying the mushroom kingdom more broadly for a sense of whether non-psychedelics were just as beneficial. “They were as amazing as psilocybin mushrooms,” said Washington. Fast forward to 2023, his studies and personal experience had led to a palatable ingestion created through most people’s daily essentials.

Back at the cafe, reishi mushrooms are on display across from the self-serve counter to entertain the curiosity customers may present when entering. If you’re unaccustomed to what mushrooms look like before sprouting their spore-releasing caps, the mycelium and substrate resembles a styrofoam figure for a kid’s science project. Finger-like spawn sprouts out of a block that serves as a fruit bag — where the roots of mushroom mycelium reside, according to Washington. Once matured, the mushroom fruiting bodies are dried and crushed into a grainy substance to be blended into the ground Arabica coffee beans.

“We start with a specific roast — ultra fresh — which helps [the taste] but then the ratio of mushrooms that we pair it with doesn’t take away from the flavor.” BeShroomed Farms partners with a manufacturer for fresh beans. Within 1-2 days, the mushroom-infused coffee beans are ready for customers.

During a recent visit a curious customer left with a cup of the Trinity blend, assuring Washington they’d be back. Washington explained the rhythm of how customers engage with BeShroomed: “They come back for their next, then come back and get bags of coffee to brew at home,” he said.

Washington shared his plans of offering identification classes, grow classes, and opportunities for community development within the mushroom community. BeShroomed also has plans for psychedelic educational classes for those wishing to explore further.

“We believe mushrooms can save the world. Not just the state of the actual physical world... they are great decomposers and actually clean up the environment and clean up our mess, but we believe they can actually save the mindset of the people,” Washington says.

In addition to coffee, they now offer mushroom hot chocolate which is also safe for children, with plans to soon offer supplements in gummy and capsule forms.

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