This Entrepreneur From Kerala is Brewing a trend with Mushroom Coffee

In the picturesque village of Thalavoor, Kerala, an impressive shift is taking place in the world of coffee. Lalu Thomas, a dedicated entrepreneur with a flair for unique culinary inventions, has made a daring step into a niche industry that many may avoid: mushroom coffee! This unusual brew, launched under the brand name “La Bae,” has quickly garnered popularity, with monthly online sales surpassing the astonishing milestone of 1 lakh. What’s particularly inspiring is the local panchayat’s participation in an initiative aimed at cultivating mushroom kinds such as lion’s mane and turkey tail by teaching approximately 100 farmers. This combined initiative demonstrates the possibilities for rural entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency in production.

La Bae’s Inception

Lalu Thomas, an accomplished chef, and his wife, Ancy Lalu, returned to Thalavoor after coping with the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis, which cost Lalu his job in Dubai and other places in the area. In 2020, they accepted a risk and founded Chef Bae, a culinary production firm. Their initial purpose was to create mushroom soup powder, but their goals quickly broadened. They thought that a high-quality mushroom coffee product might be the answer they were looking for. Lalu spent two years in Wayanad conducting research and development, finally cooperating with the Kerala Agriculture University (KAU) to further develop their production strategy.

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The Magic of La Bae Mushroom Coffee

La Bae’s mushroom coffee is a 70% mushroom, 30% coffee mixture. It combines the highest-quality Arabica AAA coffee beans with a range of mushroom species such as oyster, milky, chaga, lion’s mane, and turkey tail. What distinguishes La Bae is its adherence to quality and purity. Before being blended with coffee at Lalu’s production plant in Thalavoor, the mushrooms are meticulously disinfected in a solar oven designed by Lalu. As a result, the product is high in antioxidants and devoid of chemical preservatives, fillers, and artificial chemicals.

Gaining Traction in India and Abroad

La Bae’s premium mushroom coffee costs 450 rupees in India, and it is in high demand even beyond the country’s boundaries. Future Star Co, an Abu Dhabi-based food processing firm, placed a large 250-kilogram order with the company, demonstrating the expanding worldwide interest in this special brew. While the Indian market offers considerable potential, La Bae has so far focused on larger cities. However, the business is planning to increase its footprint in India, knowing how important coffee and tea are to Indians.

Overcoming Challenges

One of the biggest and most significant challenges for La Bae is the shortage of mushrooms in Kerala, where they are frequently viewed as a luxury product. To solve this constraint, Lalu and his colleagues designed a strategy plan that involves young people and housewives in mushroom cultivation while also offering training and assistance. This strategy attempts to increase local mushroom supply while also ensuring the brand’s long-term viability.

Photo Courtesy: The New Indian Express

A Taste of the Future

La Bae is not satisfied with simply resting on its laurels. The dynamic team behind this innovative coffee firm has big plans for the future. They want to launch more value-added items such as mushroom chocolate and mushroom biscuits. A new product, mushroom coffee with milk, is also nearing completion of research and development and will soon hit the market.

The success of La Bae and the proactive participation of Thalavoor panchayat in encouraging mushroom farming represent outstanding instances of rural business, creativity, and self-sufficiency. La Bae’s mushroom coffee brand has not only established a space for itself in a competitive industry but has also placed Kerala’s Thalavoor on the world map as a hub of innovative and health-conscious coffee goods. As La Bae continues to brew success, it’s clear that creativity and drive can turn even the most esoteric concepts into achievable enterprises.

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