This National Coffee Day, sweeten your coffee with mushrooms

MycoTechnology has developed a product made from mushrooms to reduce bitterness in foods, including coffee. 

Kevin German/AP
Morel mushrooms shown here being held by Washington State University professor of plant pathology Jack Rogers Wednesday, May 9, 2001, in Deary, Idaho.

A Denver-based startup has developed a mushroom powder that may well be a healthier alternative to sugar for your morning cup of joe.

Using mycelium, the vegetative portion of the mushroom found underground, MycoTechnology's scientists are able to “change flavor profiles and imbue nutritional benefits to target foods and beverages.”

The main goal is to reduce bitterness, a feat that has many benefits including utilization of low-grade beans and a healthier final product. The company’s innovative method “has the potential to disrupt and improve the entire global coffee industry,” the company claims.

There are 25 variations of the bitterness taste receptor, reports Mashable. MycoTechnology has “identified seven different molecules that contribute to bitterness in coffee that we can modify,” said James P. Langan, MycoTechnology’s vice president of innovation in an interview with Mashable.

Using a process known as MycoSmooth, coffee and cocoa beans are inoculated with mushrooms and left to ferment - coffee for 7 days, cocoa for 14.

Alternatively, the company produces a powder that can be added to coffee, and any other bitter-tasting food, much like food additives sugar or salt.

And in fact, MycoTech says its biggest competition is sugar.

“The cost of bitterness impacts not only the value of products, but the overall health of the consumer,” says MycoTech. “Add-ins such as sugar, milk, syrups, and artificial sweeteners are used to mask and cover up bitterness adding a tremendous amount of calories or unnecessary chemicals that can be avoided with the elimination of bitterness."

MycoTech says its product is “easier on the stomach” and makes coffee a “more enjoyable drink.”

MycoTech’s process is all-natural and GMO free. According to the company's website, they are the first to create a "class three functional" food, a food that has “undergone a natural organic process, similar to fermentation, that infuses valuable nutrients and removes taste defects.” 

“Many drugs and healthful ingredients are quite bitter, and bitter tastes are usually aversive. If this technology can usefully reduce bitterness, it will be a huge advantage in formulating foods,” Dr. John Coupland, professor of Food Science at Penn State, told Mashable.

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