When we first started our company I would have never guessed that mushrooms were the key to solving the sugar epidemic.
In actuality we just wanted to make a great cup of coffee...
But what we discovered over the course of the next four years would forever change the food industry for the better.
Let me explain:
We started our company in the basement of a Longmont Colorado home in all of 270 square feet.
Back then we had our sights set on figuring out a way that we could use mushrooms to make coffee less bitter.
Now as odd as this sounds, its surprisingly not that far fetched.
Here is why:
In nature, mushrooms act as the clean up crew for the forest. Their job is to break down toxic compounds in their environment and bring stability back to the forest.
They are so effective at fixing their surroundings, that mushrooms have even been used to clean up oil spills.
We had a hunch that if mushrooms could breakdown something like oil, we should be able to breakdown the bitter molecules in coffee to make a smoother cup.
Makes more sense now, right?
So we tried our idea. We fermented the coffee beans with the mushrooms in a process similar to brewing beer.
When it was done fermenting it was now time to try it.
And I will never forget my first taste…
Mind you I was never a coffee drinker and I hated the taste of mushrooms. (Not the best person to be working at a mushroom company that makes coffee…)
But when I tried our coffee for the first time it was truly amazing!
It was incredibly smooth and had just enough bitterness to know that you were drinking coffee but tasted great; even for me, a non-coffee drinker.
It also made me feel good about drinking it because, for one, I did not have to add any sugar to it and secondly, it had all the amazing nutritional qualities of mushrooms.
Here is a picture of one of our first batches:
But beyond simply making a great cup of coffee this was the first pivotal step towards our understanding of how mushrooms can replace sugar in our foods.
The big lesson we learned was: with less bitterness, the less sugar you need!
But there is more to this lesson than meets the eye.
Let me elaborate:
As we started making more coffee through our fermentation process, we realized that we were not limited to only coffee. We thought, what if we could use the same process for chocolate? Could we reduce the bitterness so you need less sugar in a chocolate bar.
So we took cacao beans (the raw unprocessed ingredient that makes up chocolate) and fermented it in the same way.
And again we got amazing results!
The chocolate was drastically less bitter; which as we discovered earlier, meant we didn’t have to add as much sugar to make it taste great.
It had a rich decadent flavor but only half the sugar so we weren’t sure why the flavor was so much more rich.
So we spoke with some experts and they told us that bitterness actually hides some of the natural flavors from the cacao beans. When you have less bitterness you are able to taste more of the natural flavors of the chocolate since it is not overpowered by bitterness.
When you think about it, it makes so much sense.
Bitterness masks the true flavor of ingredients because bitterness is such a strong flavor to begin with.
At this point, we were starting to piece the bitterness puzzle together but there was still one last piece to uncover.
It wasn’t until a company came to us looking to remove the bitter metallic aftertaste of stevia that we finally put all the pieces together.
If you are not familiar with stevia, it’s a natural, zero calorie sweetener that is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar but has a bitter metallic aftertaste that many people can not stand…including myself.
To see if we could do anything to the aftertaste, we put the stevia through our process. After a little bit of trial and error we were able to completely eliminate the bitterness. Just a pure sweet taste.
There was just one problem… It took too long.
See the challenge is that in order for our fermentation process to make financial sense for manufacturers, our process of de-bittering stevia has to take less than 24 hours and our process took over six months!
So naturally we had to go back to the drawing board to find a way to speed up the process.
We had come up with several ideas but none of them seemed to get us under the 24-hour point.
But we were determined to find a solution.
We had always said that life would be so much easier if we could simply provide our customers with an ingredient instead of a process, because we could easily ship them material instead of worrying about how long the process takes.
We always had this idea in the back of our minds but were unsure of how we would get there…
In our regular fermentation process, we use lots of high quality, organic, mineral rich materials that are enhanced by mushrooms. Although we knew this mixture would be valuable at some point, we were not sure of how it could be used.
So we decided to see what would happen if we added it to stevia. Not really thinking much of it at the time but curious to see its effect.
But the weirdest thing happened…It removed the bitterness!
It just so happens that this mixture of minerals and mushrooms that we used actually blocks bitterness from being tasted.
Let me explain how it works:
We taste bitterness when bitter molecules in our foods bind with the bitter taste receptors on our tongue. When you add our mushroom extract to the mix, the extract binds with the bitter receptor site FIRST so that the bitter molecules are unable to bind. Without the bitter molecules binding with the bitter taste receptor sites, bitterness is not perceived. Think of it as a shield for your tongue.
Take a look at the diagram below to see how it works:
This was truly an amazing discovery! This was the first certified organic bitter blocker ever discovered and it came from a mushroom extract… Who would have ever known!
What this means is that we can finally end the sugar epidemic.
But before I explain how, let me first show you how we became addicted to sugar:
If you go into any grocery store and look at the label of nearly any food product you will find some amount of added sugar.
I mean honestly, why does bread need 6g of sugar…
But there is a reason why sugar is added to your breads, sauces, protein powders, snacks, and everything else you can think of.
And the answer comes back to what we discovered years earlier:
The more bitter (or taste problems) a product has the more sugar is needed to cover up the taste.
And taste is king.
Taste is the number one factor in food product development. No matter how good it is for you, if it doesn’t taste good no one wants it.
Food manufacturers have known this for years which has led sugar to run rampant in everything we eat.
But removing sugar is not as easy as it sounds.
See when you start removing sugar you start to taste the undesirable aspects of the base ingredients.
If you take away the sweeteners and flavors you are left with what is known in the food industry as the product base.
And if you have ever tasted a base you will know how terrible they can be…
Sugar and flavors are added, quite effectively, to cover up the taste issues of the base ingredients.
But sugar was just a quick fix, not the solution.
See when everyone started to realize what sugar was doing to us, the food industry looked for a solution to the problem.
This led us to the artificial revolution.
But as we came to find out, this option wasn’t any better.
Now this put food product developers in a tough spot. They are tasked with making foods and beverages taste great but are limited to only natural ingredients.
See the challenge is that natural ingredients tend to have intense flavor problems. Take for example stevia, pea protein, algae, potassium chloride, monk fruit, whey, raw cacao and so many others.
They all have flavor issues…
So how do food companies make great tasting products without compromising on flavor or ingredients?
Quite honestly, before this point, food manufactures really did not have a lot of options.
It wasn’t until our discovery in 2015 that this would all change…
We introduced our product, ClearTaste™ to food company’s world wide on October 6th 2015 at the Supply Side West tradeshow in Las Vegas.
At the show we displayed ClearTaste in a lemonade sweetened with stevia.
We wanted to show how our mushroom extract could shield your tongue from the aftertaste of stevia that so many people find unpalatable.
And the response was amazing!
Food company’s world wide were blown away that ClearTaste could completely remove the after taste of stevia.
People were lining up around the corner just to try it!
One company after the next thanked us for giving them the tools they needed to make the products they have always wanted to, but couldn’t.
What we came to learn was that the real answer to the sugar epidemic was directly related to how well you could solve flavor problems in foods and ClearTaste was the ultimate solution.
With ClearTaste you are able to block the perception of bitterness so you don’t need to use sugar to cover up the undesirable tastes of the base ingredients.
Now food product developers have options!
This is reason why we have spent the last few years doing everything possible to bring ClearTaste to your favorite food companies around the world.
I have to say, it is not easy to bring a new ingredient to the marketplace. You are constantly battled at every step:
The sheer amount of time, money and regulatory that you have to go through is no easy task.
But we wanted to do this right.
We wanted to ensure that ClearTaste was safe.
Which is why when it comes to regulatory, we have gone above and beyond what is required.
While it is only required to do some types of testing on your product twice a year, we spend the extra money to test every batch, just to make sure its perfect.
So this brings us to where we are at today…
We are currently working with food companies from around the world, giving them the tools to make healthier products for you.
And there are a lot of great products coming soon.
But developing new food products takes time…Lots of time…
And people want to try our ingredients today.
This is why we have opened up our shop. We wanted people to have a preview of what is possible and what is to come.
We partnered with a chocolatier to produce an amazing 92% dark chocolate bar with ClearTaste that has only 4g of sugar for the entire bar!
By adding our ingredient, we are able to cut down the sugar content dramatically. And you really have to taste these to truly understand.
Now I warn you, these bars are not cheap… and quite frankly we are losing money on every bar we sell.
Since we do not want to have to charge you $10 for each bar, we are going to do a test…
In order to get the price down, we have to order in extremely large quantities. So initially we are going to do a small batch to get your feedback. If it goes well, we will start doing larger production runs and bring the cost savings to you.
But in the short term these bars are going to be more expensive than we would like.
But this is not just another chocolate bar. This represents the end of our dependency on sugar...
No longer do we need to add excessive quantities of sugar to everything we eat. And this chocolate bar will show you what is possible…
If you are one of those people that watches what you eat but still likes to enjoy a treat that does not taste like a “diet” chocolate bar, then this bar is definitely for you!
We have limited quantities available so be sure to get yours before we run out...
Now go ahead and be one of the first to taste the difference.