Diet & Nutrition

The Passion Behind the Product: Mushroom Buff

How a lifelong love affair with mushrooms led Tero Isokauppila from the family farm to a thriving supplement company with a heart.

Portobello and porcini. Button and brown. Chanterelle and shiitake and maitake and morel. We’ve grown accustomed to the profusion of mushrooms available for our gustatory pleasure at modern farmers’ markets and health food stores, but there’s a whole other category of fungi that has begun to make its way into the consciousness and diets of the Western world—medicinal mushrooms.

Multiple species of these adaptogenic mushrooms have been utilized for millennia in Chinese medicine to boost the immune system, support numerous body functions, and contribute to energy and longevity. With names such as lion’s mane, cordyceps, reishi, turkey tail, and chaga, they possess the exoticism that once was attached to their edible cousins. The challenge today is how to easily access versions that can be trusted in order to enjoy their myriad health benefits.

Enter Tero Isokauppila. Growing up on a family farm in Finland, he regularly foraged for mushrooms with his mother and brother, and when he got older, he became interested in the science of the foods he had taken for granted back on the farm. An encounter with cordyceps mushrooms while training for a marathon awakened him to its invigorating properties. But locating it was a hassle, and its potency and safety were questionable.

Bold Idea Sprouts New Brew

“I knew there must an easier way to consume functional mushrooms and adaptogens,” he says. “So I gathered a few of my closest friends from university and we decided to start a superfood company.” As simple as that, Four Sigmatic was created.

The company started by adding effective doses of functional mushrooms to hot cacaos and tonics. Lion’s mane went into an elixir for focus; turkey tail and chaga appeared in a chai latte mix for calming comfort; cordyceps contributed to an energizing hot cacao mix to support stamina and endurance. These did really well, so Isokauppila decided to introduce mushroom extracts into America’s favorite drink—coffee—and Mushroom Coffee was born, and it has prospered.

As with all original ideas and start-ups, Four Sigmatic has experienced its share of growing pains. Aiming to be USDA Organic, Whole30- and Paleo-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free is challenging. In spite of production issues and stock shortages, product setbacks and personnel discomforts, Isokauppila and his team kept their eyes on the goal: “Our vision since day one has been to help people all over the world improve their health through simple dietary tweaks.”

And their concern for global well-being goes further, as Four Sigmatic joins the ranks of companies stressing Conscious Capitalism as an urgently needed new business model. When asked about his approach, Isokauppila explains it this way: “The thing I struggle with the most is keeping the focus on being an environmentally sustainable business. It is very important for me personally, and also incredibly hard. We do our best to source ingredients and packaging sustainably, but there’s always room for improvement.”

And it’s that concern and conscientiousness and commitment that make his passion come to life at Four Sigmatic.