Meet Croatia’s Entrepreneurs: Stipe Režić, Organic Coffee with Superfood Mushrooms

Total Croatia News

Mushroom Cups

Sunday 13th May 2018, we introduce you to Stipe Režić and MushroomCups – organic coffee infused with superfood mushrooms for their health benefits, but the story of how this product came about is just as great as the product itself. Anything born from a desire to help someone else is always going to be good…

I have said it before and I will say it again, one of the best aspects of writing for TCN is the fact that it offers me the opportunity to meet some truly incredible humans. So, when someone reaches out to you about their personal story – something to do with making coffee from mushrooms, you meet them for a coffee to learn more about it.

Stipe Režić is the founder of ‘Mushroom Cups’ a new start-up which is making instant coffee with mushroom extracts for its superfood and health benefits. If you think this sounds interesting, wait ‘til you hear how it all came about.

What led you to the idea of making coffee with mushroom extracts?

My father worked in a chemical industry many of his colleagues died young from different kinds of melanomas, whereas my father instead developed a rare skin allergy only 0.01% of the population have. This allergy made his skin crack like dry desert soil, so deep you could see the blood through the cracks. He also had rashes on different parts of his body and every few hours he couldn’t control it anymore so he would start to scratch himself like crazy, excelling the damage.  We tried so many different diets and medicines that I can’t even recall it all anymore.

Since I used mushroom supplements before to naturally boost oxygen uptake, energy levels and concentration as an athlete, I decided to dig a bit deeper to see if they could help my father as well. Shortly after, I found out that the mushroom’s most dominant characteristic is their adaptogenic nature, meaning they are the best at balancing and repairing your body from stress-caused cellular damage, allergies and infections.

Long story short, I started to feed my father 1000 mg of mushroom extract in the morning and afternoon, and, to make it part of his routine so he didn’t forget, I mixed it with his coffee. After 1 month, both the cracks on his feet and scratching sessions were gone.

Coincidentally, it was the combination of mushroom extracts with coffee, which proved to have some unique benefits as well.

How did you choose which mushrooms to work with and why?


We started from our home, Croatia because it has beautiful intact forests (Lika and Gorski Kotar) full of wild chanterelles. Chanterelles are rich in vitamins B and D, which play a vital role in converting food into energy, serotonin production and triggering enzymes involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve growth. We work with suppliers (registered mushroom hunters) in Lika who pick and dry our chanterelles for us.


We wanted to add 2 editions to the offer that will fulfil our dynamic life tempos well. Chaga mushrooms are a cocktail of extraordinary complex life-enhancing phytonutrients, which made the decision to work with them a no-brainer. They also have impressively high ORAC scores – which stands for food’s ability to protect against premature aging, age-related memory loss and neutralisation of the damage done by free radicals.


Tell us a little more about the research and production process of working with the mushrooms?

Unfortunately, a big part of the important bioactive ingredients of these mushrooms is locked inside mushroom cell walls (the walls are made of Chitin – one of the hardest natural materials on earth that cannot be digested). Consequently, grinding mushrooms into powder wouldn’t get the job done. In order to unlock all of their potency, Chitin needs to be removed by a dual-extraction process (heat and alcohol). Getting the extraction process right took as more than a year; after many failed attempts and nice mushrooms destroyed, with some outside help, we managed to get it right, ensuring maximum bioavailability.

Where do you source the coffee from and why?

Parallel with making extracts, we tested more than a hundred different instant coffee from all over the world. Eventually, we found the one everybody was happy with. It was delicious, organic and from the beautiful, green Peruvian hills. We learned that the lack of oxygen on the high altitudes extends the maturing period of this coffee bean, gifting the coffee with exceptional quality.

You mentioned coincidental positive benefits of combining coffee and mushrooms, what are they?

Since mushrooms are adaptogens, they lower the negative side effects like accelerated heart rate, adrenaline rush and stomach acidity. Many of our consumers reported that this is the only coffee product that they can drink on an empty stomach.

Tell us about the two different products

Go Sharp: uses the chanterelle mushrooms and the combination works well for increased endurance and stamina – so is great as a pre-workout drink. It also increases overall energy levels, improves memory and brain function, stimulates the immune system and aids in fighting cancer cells.

Go Fresh: with chaga mushrooms is good for anti-aging and skin/hair regeneration – this is the preferred blend by our female consumers; it increases productivity and energy levels, boosts brain function and like above, stimulates the immune system and helps in the fight against cancer cells.


You have a few business partners as well, who are they and how did you all come together?

My partners are all my friends, who fell in love with the mushroom story so they wanted to support the idea with both their money, and business skills – which are impressive by the way. Morten Smalby and Ante Dagelić deal with the IT side of the business (all the way from data, security and analytics to the e-commerce and marketing infrastructure) and Toni Trivković is the one in charge of the design (website, packaging, promotional materials etc.)


The Mushroom Cups team

The packaging is brilliant, tell us about the design

The mind behind the packaging is Toni’s head designer Zrinka Buljubašić. She made it both beautiful and eco-friendly (which was a priority for us). It is made from recycled paper and is fully biodegradable.

What about production?

As stated, the chanterelle mushrooms come from Croatia, the Chaga mushrooms are sourced from Siberia, the coffee is from Peru and our research, design and production was a combination of different people in Croatia and the final packaging is done here in Solin!

We produce smaller batches because our production capabilities depend on the wild chanterelle harvesting. And, when you take into consideration that after drying and extraction, from 1 kg of raw mushrooms, you get about 50 gm of high-intensity extract, it is easy to understand why we can’t produce a lot – around 5,000 packages at the moment.

Who is your market clientele?

Health-conscious people and go-getters who dare to ask more from their coffee.

How has the interest been so far and where can we find Mushroomcups?

Interest is growing rapidly. We have a webshop here on Mushroomcups and we sell on Amazon in the whole of Europe – as we don’t think our audience is limited to Croatia. In Split, you can buy it from “Bio Planet” store in Joker shopping mall and two coffee shops in Split – Café bar Fro on the Split Riva, and café bar Adriatic Social Club Split, near the main bus station.

Future plans and predictions?

I will refrain from making any major predictions right now because it can be very hard to get those right and I truly dislike being wrong. Nonetheless, we love thinking about the future and about all the other products and ingredient combinations we’d like to make when the time comes.

A small hint, we are now looking at infusing green tea with mushrooms. Although our coffee is mushroom powered and has significantly less caffeine than a regular coffee, there is still plenty of people who dislike coffee per se. We are looking forward to providing them with some cool tea – with a kick, as well.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

The extraction process I described before was the most challenging part as it took the most amount of time and money to perfect, but it was something that had to be done right.

What do your friends and family think about this unique endeavour?

Ah, they are amazing. Starting this business made me realise how great my family and friends are. We are reluctant to sell our products to them, but no matter how hard we fight them, they just won’t accept gifts and they keep buying, drinking and sending us cool pictures of them enjoying the products.

Is there enough support from the government for local entrepreneurs?

There are many different reachable government funds and most of the officials I talked with were both approachable and helpful. I believe that any project with innovative significance and a hardworking team behind it can get the government funding. Plus, it is the best kind of money as it is non-refundable and takes no company shares in return.

Nonetheless, support can go many different ways other than the financial one, and Croatia has a long road ahead off it, to make the system more Entrepreneur friendly.

What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs?

Firstly, I’d advise them to test their assumptions and secondly to be cooperative and brave because it is much easier to succeed if you are not fighting alone (and if you are not a wuss).

Lastly, and the most important question – how is your father’s condition now, does he love the product??

I’m delighted to say he is doing well. I make jokes sometimes, that there will be nothing to sell, if he continues to drink as much. He frowns on these jokes and calls me a cheap a**hole.

DSC_0422 (800 x 533).jpg

Stipe and his father


And with that brilliant last word, I will close this by saying that Stipe was an absolute pleasure to meet and chat with – so genuine, passionate and enthusiastic and I learnt that there is a whole other world to mushrooms and coffee! I have since tried the blend with chaga mushrooms and I absolutely loved it; Stipe is right, I felt like I had sustained energy and focus without the typical caffeine-high I normally get.

Life in Croatia has its moments, but meeting people like Stipe helps to re-inspire and invigorate (metaphorically and literally speaking in this instance).

Thanks for sharing your incredible story Stipe and it is very easy for me to recommend the coffee (for love of the story and the product itself). You can find more information on their website here.

Do you have your own entrepreneurial story? We would love to hear about it, contact us on [email protected]


Extracts of the mushroom description taken from the Mushroom Cups website. All photos courtesy of Stipe and MushroomCups.



Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment