Stipe Rezic, Croatian 29 year old former basketball player with a Master’s degree in Computer science, along with his partners Morten Smalby, Ante Dagelic, and Toni Trivkovic.
They came up with organic instant coffee brand – Mushroom Cups – for which they have combined two ingredients that do not belong together at first sight – mushrooms and coffee. They have two products in sale: Go Fresh and Go Sharp.
– The basis for both products is entirely the same. We’ve chosen Peruvian coffee, after tasting almost 100 types of coffee from all around the world, and we consider it to be the best one, since it grows at high altitude so its beans are of a greater quality, and we’ve combined it with the Croatian wild Chanterelles (Chantharellu cibarius) from the intact forest of Lika and Gorski kotar, which enhance the conversion of food into energy on the cellular level. Later on, the siberian mushroom called chaga was added to the Go Fresh version (Inonotus obliquus), also known as „the mushroom of immortality“ high in B-glucan and melanin that enhance the immune system and have a positive impact on hair and skin, consequently having an anti-aging effect. The same basis with the mushroom cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) from Tibet is added to the Go Sharp coffee, which enhances body’s ability to absorb oxygen, consequently improving your performance. It is widely accepted by the athletes and often added to biomedicine due to its effect on the cellular bioenergy, aerobic capacity and ventilation function – Rezic explains.
The coffee comes in a package containing 10 bags of coffee powder out of which each contains 3 g of the ingredient mixture mentioned above. The price of a package is 13,95 euro. Once put into a cup, the coffee needs to be poured over with 1-2 dl of hot water and then you can, if you wish, add some milk and sugar. Mushroom coffee has much less caffeine than the standard one, and the mushrooms take over the stimuli function so they will wake you up and freshen you up.
Stipe and his partners invested in the 2 year long trial period and production afterwards. They are certain that mushroom coffee will turn out to be a good investment, “because due to their adaptogenic nature, mushrooms not only bring benefits to the coffee but also minimise coffee side effects, like accelerated heart rate, adrenaline rush and stomach acidity” – Stipe points out. All the credits go to Stipe’s neighbour who brought him into the world of mushrooms and their positive impact on human health.
Stipe comes from Solin, where Mushroom Cups organic coffee is being produced and sent all over the world. Apart from the locals, their coffee is mostly bought by the coffee lovers from Western Europe and America.
– People that want to have more energy and cognitive power in order to enhance their productivity are our best clients. – says Stipe. Their coffee can be tasted and bought in multiple stores that sell bio products, but the sale is primarily done on the webpage mushroomcups.com and on Amazon.
The entire process lasted for two years, and the coffee was released for sale at the beginning of the year. During their first year their goal is to sell 5000 coffee packages, and the long-term plan is to produce tea and other beverages containing mushrooms.
Stipe started to develop „mushroom coffee“ motivated by a problem that he encountered in his private life.
– My father Ivan worked in the chemical industry. The majority of his colleagues died young, around their 50s from various types of terminal diseases, mostly melanoma. My father on the other hand suffered a rare allergy present in 0,01 percent of population. The skin on his feet cracked and he would often get a rash which would only get worse since he scratched it recklessly – Stipe added.
Rezic explained how he accompanied his father to many doctors trying to find a therapy that would help him, but nothing worked. Stipe was a professional basketball player at the time and during that period he drank a supplement made of mushrooms called cordyceps. It was a natural and legal supplement that helped him to enhance the oxygen entry, boost his energy and concentration. He developed an interest for the positive impact of mushrooms, and then he started to broaden up his knowledge about them. He learned that you can’t get an overdose from them since they are the strongest substance for the system balance, recovery after cellular damages caused by stress, allergies and infections. Having realised that mushrooms provide so many benefits to our organism, he started giving his father a 1000 mg of the mushroom extract each morning and during the afternoon.
– In order to facilitate the entire process for him, I have added the extract to his coffee since he drinks it each morning and afternoon. After a month, all the symptoms were gone. – says Stipe.
Today, his father feels excellent. Stipe sometimes teases him and tells him that he won’t have anything to sell because he’ll drink everything. His father strikes back telling him he’s a selfish bastard, out of love of course.
According to Stipe, the hardest part was definitely the extraction of the bioactive components from the mushrooms. He says that a major part of the bioactive ingredients in the mushrooms is locked inside the cells. These cells are made of chitin, one of the solidest materials found in nature that our body cannot digest. If we ate the mushrooms raw, they would not have the same effect as when we consume their extract.
– In order to unlock all the active ingredients, the chitin must be removed first without destroying the ingredients it preserves, and that was the greatest challenge in making Mushroom Cups. They have accomplished this at a high temperature by using alcohol and experts that developed the entire process – says Stipe, who did not reveal the exact process of „unlocking the active ingredients“ from the mushrooms, since it is a business secret.
The ingredients and the amount of the mushroom extract for a bag of coffee was determined after many tests.
– We use 400 mg of each mushroom because we do not all have the same needs, and we want that Mushroom Cups become efficient for everyone. – adds Stipe.
– We get 50 g of powder out of a kilo of mushrooms. – says Režić that revealed that the mushrooms are the cheapest when raw.
– Wild chanterelles cost approximately 10 euro per kilo when raw, while the dried ones are 10 times more expensive, i.e. around 100 euro, while their extract cannot be bought. And we needed precisely that in order to make the coffee. – says Režić.
Other mushrooms used in the recipe, chaga and cordyceps, are bought dried and are sent to extraction afterwards.