Sunday, August 14, 2022

Former NRI Lalu Thomas creates a coffee brand from mushroom

The Thalavoor resident wanted something unique and the result is La Bae, a mushroom infused coffee brand developed with the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Sadanandapuram

PRAVASISAMWAD.COM

Lalu Thomas was one of the many non-resident Indians who lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021. He came back to his native Kerala and started farming. The Thalavoor resident wanted something unique and the result is La Bae, a mushroom infused coffee brand developed with the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Sadanandapuram, reported The Hindu.

Photo Courtesy: The Hindu

“During COVID-19 we saw a huge demand for healthy food products and I decided to explore the possibilities. Rich in fiber and antioxidents, mushrooms have more minerals compared to vegetables and fruits. It’s the first mushroom coffee powder from Kerala,” Thomas was quoted saying. The nutritional value and shelf life of the mushroom coffee was evaluated at the laboratories of Council for Food Research and Development (CFRD) and Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI).

“Value added products are the only solution that will ensure a steady income to the farmers. It will also help us to provide the product at very reasonable rates.”

— Lalu Thomas

Organic AAA grade arabica coffee directly sourced from the farmers in Wayanad is used for the product. 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, said Thomas. “Similar products available in the market have a bitter taste and we wanted to retain the familiar taste and aroma of coffee while infusing it with the nutritional benefits of mushrooms. We wanted the original flavour of coffee to dominate and the chicory content in our product is zero. Chicory can cause acidity and our aim is a complete healthy food,” he pointed out.

Thomas’ farm has the capacity to produce only 10 kg of coffee and KVK is planning to rope in more farmers and form clusters in various parts to promote mushroom cultivation. “You need 10 kg fresh produce for one kg dried mushroom. KVK will provide the spawns and training for the farmers and the mushroom will be procured from them for making value added products,” said Thomas.

The biggest challenge faced by mushroom farmers is its short shelf life and products like La Bae will help them to overcome the hurdle. “Value added products are the only solution that will ensure a steady income to the farmers. It will also help us to provide the product at very reasonable rates,” Thomas said.

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Roma Ghosh
Roma Ghosh has recently retired as Associate Professor for Media Studies from an international university. She was with the Times of India as a correspondent for many years. Her passion is cooking and she has been doing recipes and photo shoots for Women's Era for the last 15-odd years.

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