People the world over love their caffeine. The U.S. may lead in total coffee consumption; however, that is more a function of population than per capita consumption. Countries in northern and western Europe drink the most coffee per person, led by Finland, Norway, and the Netherlands. Germany and Belgium are also in the top ten. Despite early studies of coffee suggesting it could lead to health problems, people enjoy the ritual of their morning cup of coffee and its energizing effect. More recent research provides evidence that coffee is also known for a long list of potential health benefits, including, according to Dan Buettner, longevity expert and author of Blue Zones, a lowered risk of early death.
Buettner has spent his career studying what he refers to as Blue Zones, regions of the world with the highest concentration of the healthiest, longest-lived people on earth. He attributes their longevity to certain characteristics they have in common, such as physical activity, a sense of community, plant-based diets, and consistent consumption of coffee.
How does coffee contribute to health and longevity? How much is too much? What are its potential adverse effects? And why might an alternative such as Ryze or MUD\WTR be even more beneficial? We answer each of these questions in this article and compare Ryze vs. MUD\WTR, providing our assessment of which brand might be best for you.
The Amazing Health Benefits of Coffee
Most of us enjoy coffee for the routine and almost immediate energy boost due to the caffeine content, a central nervous system stimulant. Coffee also contains antioxidant-rich polyphenols that have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Free radical damage, oxidation, and chronic low-level inflammation are major risk factors for cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and other illnesses that may be life-limiting. Coffee has also been linked to a lowered incidence of Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes. The caffeine content in coffee increases the release of norepinephrine and dopamine in your brain, which aids cognition today, and as you age.
Coffee may also be beneficial in physical performance and endurance training as it delays the onset of fatigue and may aid in weight loss as it stimulates metabolism.
How Much Might be Too Much
The experts tell us that up to four cups of coffee daily, about 400 mg is safe. Yet Buettner refers to a “consistent consumption” by people in the Blue Zones. In a 2018 study of nearly 500,000 people in the UK, coffee drinking was associated with a lower risk of death – the most significant reduction in mortality was found in people who consumed six to seven cups per day. The choice of brew, caffeinated or decaf, didn’t make a difference, indicating it’s the antioxidants doing the heavy lifting.
Risks Associated with Coffee Consumption
Caffeine consumption entails certain risks, including the potential for increased anxiety, sleep disruptions and insomnia, digestive issues, rapid heart rate, and addiction or dependency. Anyone who has sworn off coffee also is familiar with its withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.
Coffee alternatives have been around for quite some time and run the gamut from chicory, introduced during the American Civil War and still in use in certain parts of the world today, to acorns used during WWII, to postum, from grains and molasses. Mushroom coffee alternatives, first developed in Finland during WWII, are now a popular new segment in the U.S. created to provide coffee’s benefits without the adverse effects of dependency, anxiety, nervousness, and sleep disorders.
The new mushroom coffees blend traditional coffee beans and ground mushrooms – typically medicinal mushrooms. The resulting brew is less acidic, lower in caffeine, and tastes similar to coffee. Like coffee, medicinal mushrooms such as lion’s mane, cordyceps, Chaga, and reishi are antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. They also are antimicrobials, anti-tumor, and a source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols, so mushroom coffee delivers even more health benefits without the adverse side effects.
Read on as we compare two relatively new brands of mushroom alternatives, Ryze and MUD\WTR.
Spoiler alert – our quick assessment.
Although there is much to like about RYZE, we consider the added time in the marketplace, USDA organic certification, third-party testing, and current placement of MUD\WTR in physical retail shops an indicator of the brand’s superiority.
Ryze vs. MUD\WTR: The Companies Behind the Brands
Boston-based Ryze Superfoods was founded in 2020 by two Harvard grads, Andree Werner and Rashad Hossain. Unlike many of today’s subscription-based online-only entities, Mr. Hossain, President and CEO, clearly outlines their intentions to pursue additional product placement on Amazon and brick-and-mortar retail distribution.
The young company manufactures through a co-packer in California, with logistics handled through a warehouse in Texas. This is a logical approach for a newer company with limited offerings today, Ryze Mushroom Coffee, coconut creamer, and a gratitude app, but with plans to scale their catalog in the future.
Ms. Werner and Mr. Hossain’s alternative coffee creation features a variety of medicinal mushrooms, coffee, and MCT oil, appealing to the Keto crowd. Delivering only half the caffeine of traditional coffee, the company’s message is a healthy daily ritual with curative value and longevity.
All the company’s ingredients are organic and vegan, Keto and Paleo-friendly, and non-GMO, delivering all the benefits of coffee without adverse effects.
Another relatively young company, MUD\WTR (yes, that’s the correct spelling per the company website), was started in 2018 by founder Shane Heath. During an artist residency in India, Mr. Heath was introduced to masala chai tea, a combination of tea, milk, and spices. The masala tea was his inspiration for MUD\WTR, an all-organic coffee alternative, blending mushrooms, spices, cacao, and Himalayan salt.
Although primarily an online, direct-to-consumer business using a subscription-based marketing model, MUD\WTR has secured some brick-and-mortar product placement in smaller health-niche stores.
Additional offerings from the company include :matcha, :rest, and :gold, plus add-ins and sweeteners. Mr. Heath’s artistic creativity is evidenced by the backslash (\) and colons (:) in the product names, a nuisance for those using spell or grammar checks.
Ryze vs. MUD\WTR: The Products
Ryze Mushroom Coffee
RYZE is an organic, vegan coffee alternative blending adaptogenic mushrooms, MCT oil, and Arabica Coffee that delivers only half the caffeine yet even more health benefits than traditional coffee. RYZE is an instant powdered drink, essentially half coffee and half mushroom blend, with added organic MCT oil (think bulletproof coffee) to add taste and texture. Each thirty-serving unit features all organic, non-GMO ingredients and California-grown mushrooms in eco-friendly packaging. The product is vegan, Keto, and Paleo-friendly, gluten, dairy, and soy-free, with no added sugars.
Additional detail as to the specific varieties of mushrooms included in RYZE is provided in the formulation section.
Product positioning on the company site focuses on taste, convenience, energy, and focus, with even more benefits than coffee – without jitters, sleep disruption, or caffeine crash.
The RYZE money-back guarantee is restrictive, as you must return the product unopened within thirty days of purchase.
Recommended dosage – one 6-gram tablespoon.
The MUD\WTR coffee alternative takes a somewhat different approach in its formulation, using masala chai tea in combination with mushrooms, cacao, spices, and Himalayan pink salt. With only about 35 mg of caffeine per serving, MUD\WTR delivers the natural energy and focus of coffee without the risks. The taste is earthy and mildly spicy, with a hint of chocolate from the cacao. The ingredients are certified USDA Organic, non-GMO, Keto-friendly, vegan, Kosher, and free of glutens or sugars, and are third-party tested.
The site aggressively markets its “Starter Kit,” which includes a thirty-day supply of :rise, a free electronic “frother” called the Mud Whip, a guidebook, and samples of the brand’s coconut creamer and sweetener.
Recommended dosage – one 6-gram tablespoon.
Ryze vs. MUD\WTR: Nutrition Facts Table
Both products recommend a six-gram tablespoon per serving. We did not identify any substantial difference in the two products’ nutritional content.
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Ryze vs. MUD\WTR: The Formulations
Both brands feature mushrooms in their formulation (three varieties in common). The primary difference in the formulations is the use of Arabica Coffee in RYZE versus Masala Chai Tea in MUD\WTR. RYZE also includes MCT oil, while MUD\WTR formulates with cacao and a proprietary spice blend. The benefits of the three mushroom varieties that our subject brands have in common are addressed below, and we then address those compounds unique to each brand.
Cordyceps Mushrooms – A medicinal mushroom used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine. Health benefits: Immune support, energy production, endurance, and stamina.
Reishi Mushrooms – A fungus considered a superfood and a staple in Eastern medicine. Health benefits: Immune support, energy, cognition, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, adaptogenic (stress relief), and prebiotic.
Organic Lion’s Mane – Both a culinary and medicinal mushroom popular in Japan, Korea, China, and India. Health benefits: Cognitive; Lion’s Mane stimulates the growth of brain cells to improve memory and focus. Adaptogenic; relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety. Digestive; reduces inflammation and prevents tissue damage in the digestive tract.
Ingredients Unique to Ryze
Per the Nutrition Facts panel, RYZE contains three additional varieties in their 2000 mg proprietary Organic Mushroom Blend; King Trumpet, Shiitake, and Turkey Tail. Given the nature of proprietary blends, we cannot determine the ratio of the different types.
King Trumpet – One of more than forty types of oyster mushrooms, the King Trumpet is named for its unique shape. The King Trumpet is edible and is used in supplements as a potent antioxidant to prevent cell damage. Health benefits: anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties, gut and heart health, immune support.
Shiitake – One of the most popular edible mushrooms worldwide, the Shiitake is a fungus frequently used as a vegetable alternative. In traditional medicine, the Shiitake is thought to improve health, extend longevity, and enhance circulation. Like other mushrooms, this variety is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.
Turkey Tail – Named due to its striking colors, it is a medicinal mushroom known for its potent antioxidant effects. Most research on the health benefits of this variety focuses on the immune system, potential anti-cancer potential, and gut health.
Arabica Coffee – What we know. The RYZE coffee is an organic, shade-grown bean grown in Mexico and spray-dried into an instant powder after roasting and brewing. Although we do not know the precise amount of coffee in each serving, we understand that it delivers 48 mg of caffeine – about half that of a normal cup of coffee.
MCT Oil – As with the other compounds, we do not know the amount of MCT oil in RYZE. From natural, organic palm and coconut oils, the MCT in RYZE is a healthy fat that promotes satiety, may aid in weight loss, improves taste, and is popular in the Keto and athletic world.
Ingredients Unique to MUD\WTR
As noted, one of the primary differences is Masala Chai versus coffee in the MUD\WTR product. Chai tea is a sweet and spicy tea known for its aroma, made by combining black tea with spices, including the ginger and cinnamon found in MUD\WTR’s Organic Spice Blend.
Organic Black Tea – Black tea contains potent polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and flavonoids, which may aid heart health. Additional health benefits are reduced LDL “bad” cholesterol, digestive health, and less risk of stroke.
Organic Spice Blend – Contains all organic spices, including cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, and cloves.
- Cinnamon and ginger lower blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol.
- Turmeric is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
- Black Pepper, cloves, and cardamom have antibacterial properties that prevent digestive issues, and black pepper may aid in weight loss.
Organic Cacao – Even the cacao seeds that make chocolate, cocoa, and coconut butter are antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in addition to adding flavor.
Organic Chaga Mushrooms – A prebiotic for gut health, supports the immune system as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral.
Himalayan Pink Salt – An essential mineral that also supports hydration.
Ryze vs. MUD\WTR: Benefits of Mushroom Coffee
Coffee, tea, and medicinal/adaptogenic mushrooms offer significant health benefits, as illustrated throughout this article. When used in combination, as in RYZE and MUD\WTR, you receive the significant benefits highlighted below without the adverse effects.
Both brands emphasize the following benefits:
- Sustained Energy – without the crash
- Cognition – sharper focus
- Gut Health – a calm digestive tract
- Endurance and Stamina
- Sleep Quality
- Immune Support
- Heart Health
- No Anxiety/Jitters
Ryze vs. MUD\WTR: Price Comparisons
The RYZE website offers options to initiate your new “morning ritual.” During the course of writing this article over several days, the offerings seemed to change with special prices and offers of free shipping and free spoon with most orders.
- 60 Servings of Mushroom Coffee
- Free handmade acacia spoon (first-order)
- Free recipe booklet
- Free shipping
RYZE is only available on the company’s website at this time.
Although RYZE shows a money-back guarantee, it appears you will need to return the product unopened and within 30 days.
Or you can start your new “morning ritual” – both sites use the exact phrasing – with MUD\WTR. The pricing strategies of RYZE and MUD\WTR are eerily similar, both aggressively marketing their subscription services.
The MUD\WTR Starter Kit retails for $40 on the company website. The Kit includes a thirty-day serving of MUD\WTR, a free rechargeable frother, a guidebook, a free sticker, and samples of the company’s creamer and sweetener – and a refill shipment in three weeks. The U.S. has free shipping and a thirty-day guarantee for unopened products.
Ryze vs. MUD\WTR: What Customers Say About the Products
Neither product is available on other e-commerce sites, so validating reviews is difficult. RYZE states that customer reviews rate 4.9 of 5 stars with 17,318 reviews, while MUD\WTR claims a 4.5 with nearly 39,000 reviews.
Reviewers of both brands enjoy the energy boost and improved focus without the jitters or crashes. Taste receives great attention, with most RYZE reviewers very satisfied, if not elated, with the taste and aroma. Reviewers for both brands claim they have been able to forego their coffee fix. The MUD\WTR frother, ironically, seems to get a solid 5 stars for convenience and effectiveness.
Ryze vs. MUD\WTR: For Your Consideration
So, how to decide which morning ritual coffee alternative is suitable for you? Both products will serve the purpose; however, the rapid expansion of MUD\WTR in brick-and-mortar retailers tells us that a growing group of consumers are converting to the brand.
RYZE Mushroom Coffee, formulated with MCT oil, may be the better option for those following a Paleo or Keto diet. Plus, the MCT improves the taste and texture. Technically, all black coffee is keto-friendly until you doctor the taste with milk, cream, or sugar.
In either case, we recommend the single purchase option before signing up for a difficult-to-cancel subscription service. Why not test both and then proceed with your preference for the longer term? Although RYZE is slightly less expensive from a cost/value relationship, the costs are comparable.
In Our Opinion: Ryze vs. MUD\WTR
Both brands deliver an acceptable coffee alternative. However, MUD\WTR is the more mature company with superior corporate policies, such as organic certification and third-party testing. The changing prices on the RYZE website and landing pages could have been more transparent – slightly off-putting. That said, google MUD\WTR and be prepared for an onslaught of retargeting ads.