Herbal Supplements Find a Home in the L.A. Coffee Scene

L.A. cafés are tapping into the power of plants by infusing coffee with CBD, MCT, reishi mushrooms, and more.


Sometimes, Los Angeles feels like the world of supplements—it seems like everywhere you go, there’s a new one to try. Some forms, like CBD, are commonly heard of in major U.S. cities nowadays, while others, like MCT and reishi mushrooms, are a bit more niche. As someone who is always on the lookout for something new for wellness, I’ve tried quite a few over the years, and I was happy to discover that many L.A. cafés now offer these boosts in their drinks. If you’re curious about these supplements and the science behind them, below are a few common ones that the coffee shops in my area offer.

1. CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has recently become all the rage, and in my opinion it lives up to the hype. Extracted from the cannabis plant, CBD is not psychoactive in the way that its sister THC is. However, it does offer a wide array of benefits, including pain relief, a calming aid, and a lift in one’s mood. Because of its relaxing properties, it’s often used to ease tense muscles, alleviate anxiety, and promote better sleep.

So what happens when you mix this relaxant with caffeine, a stimulant? From what I’ve experienced, it’s a nice balance—I’ll get all the feelings of focus and alertness that coffee brings, without the ensuing jitteriness. If you live in the L.A. area, you can try the mix for yourself at one of the many spots that offer CBD-infused coffee, including Bon Vivant in Los Angeles.

2. MCT

Many have heard of Bulletproof Coffee, but do you know what makes their drinks so special? The answer is an ingredient you may or may not have heard of: MCT oil. MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) occur naturally in coconut oil and dairy products, and they break down more quickly than the long-chain triglycerides found in most other foods; in short, they serve as a quick energy source and are less likely to be stored as fat in the body. This makes them a go-to for fitness gurus and athletes—or anyone trying to build muscle or simply feel more energized throughout the day.

MCTs are also known to bring an influx of brain power—a huge plus in my book. If you live in L.A., you can visit a Bulletproof location to try it for yourself or, if you’re from out of town, you can order some MCT oil online to incorporate into your at-home coffee regimen.

3. Reishi mushrooms

First discovered by healers in China almost 2,000 years ago, reishi mushroom (also known as lingzhi) grows throughout Asia and has been a staple in Eastern medicine for centuries. The mushroom is known primarily for its ability to boost the immune system, lower stress levels, and combat fatigue. But what’s the key behind this mushroom’s power? Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens, plants that help the body combat stress by promoting homeostasis, or physiological equilibrium. In addition, they’re rich in age-fighting antioxidants, which is how they got their nickname: “mushrooms of immortality.”

Many people also claim that reishi boosts productivity and imagination, though this claim is not backed as strongly by science. However, reishi’s proven ability to promote calmness and vitality do make them an ideal tool for anyone looking to enter a meditative, creative state. Four Sigmatic, well-known for its mushroom coffee, offers many reishi products, and places like Moon Juice in L.A. offer reishi infusions in their lattes.

Like many others, I was skeptical before trying these supplements—but I had a beneficial experience with them, and the science does show that these boosts can have tangible positive effects on the body and mind. Of course, they shouldn’t be used to replace proper medication and nutrition, and you should do your own research and consider your individual health needs/possible side effects before giving them a go. But if you do ever get a chance to try them, bottoms up! Here’s to plants and the immense power that they hold.

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Based in Los Angeles, Emily Joy Meneses is a writer and musician passionate about culture and collective care. You can regularly find her at Echo Park Lake, drinking a cortado and journaling about astrology, art, Animal Crossing, and her dreams. Explore her poetry, short stories, and soundscapes on her website.

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