Cafe Sessions with Steve: December 2022

Christmas has now officially come and gone, and we are in that odd week that occurs at the end of every year, where we wait for the new year to arrive, avoid work if we can, (can anything really be accomplished in the last week of the year anyway?), and spend time relaxing and recuperating from the festivities of the past few days. That said, even though Rise Café itself is temporarily closed through January 2nd (time off is important everyone!), I couldn’t leave you all hanging – I know you all wait with bated breath for these Café Sessions… So, I decided I’d go ahead and answer some questions, with the idea of getting back to basics, as we finish up this year and enter the new one, (still having a hard time believing we are heading into 2023). Without further ado, let's dive in!

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what's the deal with the whole mushrooms and coffee thing?

Haven't you heard? Denver decriminalized, and has taken the steps to legalize, psilocybin mushrooms for medicinal purposes! Granted those are not the mushrooms I’m talking about in this month's Cafe Session, but this is still really great news on the medical front, so I thought it was worth mentioning!

The mushrooms I’m discussing (e.g., the mushrooms in the coffee world) include Chaga, Lion's Mane, Rishi, and more! For these sorts of mushrooms, studies have been done which show they boost your cognitive function, relieve stress, support the immune system, and even have some anti-aging qualities. Often used as an addition to a coffee drink, or even as a substitute to coffee altogether, these mushrooms have become an increasingly popular part of the caffeinated beverage repertoire.

Legend has it however, this is not a new trend. Apparently, mushrooms were initially used in Finland during World War II as a substitute to coffee beans. The Finish Army, being unable to source any coffee, found grinding up mushrooms to brew had a similar taste to their beloved coffee, and now we know, they even produce similar "wake me up" properties exhibited from drinking coffee.

There are so many coffee beverages and coffee replacements that come from mushrooms. For example, there are mixtures like Mudwater – mushroom coffee alternatives – which you are supposed to drink in place of coffee daily. Or here at Rise, we use the Renude Chagaccino powder which we add into your coffee, (and which also happens to be insanely delicious). Somehow in their creating, Renude developed a cinnamon/chocolate taste that comes about after adding their mushroom powder to your coffee drink, and which is simultaneously incredibly beneficial for you, while tasting nothing like mushrooms! Take it from me, mushrooms are gross to me and one of the few foods that I will not eat - like I used to hunt them out of the beef stew my mom would make even if it created that nice thick stew texture. But this Chagaccino almost tastes like you are drinking chocolate milk. It is so good! So be sure to stop by Rise Café to try this healthy and delicious mushroom/coffee trend for yourself! I’ll be happy to whip you up a cup!

There are so many coffee drinks out there. is there an actual difference between all of them?

Let's start with the basics here...espresso. This is your straight to the punch, quickly extracted, coffee that is not necessarily stronger than your regular cup of Joe, just quicker based on its finely ground attributes and using pressure to push boiling water through at a rapid pace. This is where most coffee beverages start and then we add milk to a varying degree depending how much coffee flavor you would like to taste.

After the espresso comes the steamed milk, or plain old water if you want and Americano (check out our blog on “The History Of The Americano” HERE). Let's start with a macchiato, or traditional macchiato, and not what Starbucks calls a macchiato. You get a macchiato when espresso is topped with just a dash of milk and a dab of foam - a little topper to your espresso is all it is. Next up is a cortado, where there are equal parts of espresso to steamed milk, topped with some good microfoam. Further along down the milk line is your cappuccino where the cup is filled roughly halfway with steamed milk and the other half heavy dense foam that is actually sweeter and more coffee forward than the steamed milk because the fat is caramelized into sugar. Lastly, we have a latté where your entire cup is filled with steamed milk and topped with just a little bit of foam, roughly half an inch.

Regardless of your choice of coffee beverage, remember to utilize your local barista’s coffee knowledge if you’re ever at all confused or unsure of what you want. All of us barista's want you to leave happy, with a beverage you’ll enjoy, there's nothing worse than asking for a macchiato thinking you will get a delicious latté when you really just ordered an intense, coffee forward, drink that might be a little bitter for your liking, however still delicious and worth a try at some point!


If you have a topic or question you’d like me to tackle next month, don’t hesitate to ask! Submit an anonymous question or problem here. No name or email required.