Ex-NRI brews brand of coffee from mushrooms in Kerala

La Bae, a brand of mushroom-infused coffee was developed with the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendra

La Bae, a brand of mushroom-infused coffee was developed with the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendra

In 2021, Lalu Thomas was among many non-resident Indians who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he started farming, the resident of Thalavoor wanted something unique and the result is La Bae, a brand of mushroom-infused coffee developed with the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Sadanandapuram.

“During COVID-19, we saw a huge demand for healthy food products and I decided to explore the possibilities. Rich in fiber and antioxidants, mushrooms have more minerals than vegetables and fruits. the first mushroom coffee powder in Kerala,” says Mr. Thomas.The nutritional value and shelf life of mushroom coffee have been evaluated in the laboratories of the Council for Food Research and Development (CFRD) and the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI).

    Mushroom infused coffee powder.

Mushroom infused coffee powder.

AAA grade organic arabica coffee sourced directly from farmers in Wayanad is used for the product. The powder of five different types of mushrooms is the other ingredient. Oyster, milky, lion’s mane, turkey tail and chaga are the varieties used for their specific health benefits. Compared to other products available in India, La Bae is different, he adds. “Similar products available on the market taste bitter and we wanted to retain the familiar taste and aroma of coffee while infusing it with the nutritional goodness of mushrooms. We wanted the original flavor of the coffee to dominate and the chicory content of our product is zero.Chicory can cause acidity and our goal is a healthy and complete food.

Thomas’ farm has the capacity to produce only 10 kg of coffee and KVK plans to recruit more farmers and form clusters in various regions to promote mushroom cultivation. “You need 10 kg of fresh produce for 1 kg of dried mushrooms. KVK will provide egg laying and farmer training and the mushrooms will be purchased from them to produce value-added products,” he says. Mr Thomas adds that the biggest challenge faced by mushroom growers is its short shelf life and products like La Bae will help them overcome this hurdle. “Value-added products are the only solution that will ensure a stable income for farmers. It will also help us provide the product at very reasonable rates,” he says.

About Jeffery L. Parker

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