A Q&A with Tero Isokauppila, founder of Four Sigmatic

By Emily Effren – December 1, 2020
Four Sigmatic

Founded in 2012, Four Sigmatic has grown to be one of the most popular mushroom coffee companies in the nation in addition to inspiring those to live a healthier lifestyle. After living in many locations around the world, founder of Four Sigmatic, Tero Isokauppila, has recently settled into his new home: Austin, Texas. 

The new Austinite spoke with AFM about all things mushroom coffee — and why you should try making the switch in 2021. 

Meet Tero! (Photo courtesy of Four Sigmatic).

AFM: Immunity is such a popular topic these days with COVID-19. How can Four Sigmatic products help to boost the immune system?

Isokauppila: Four Sigmatic has been around for eight and a half years — since 2012 — and I say to our team that we’ve been selling umbrellas when it’s been sunny for eight years, and now, finally it’s raining, and people need umbrellas more than ever. Our products are very immune-centric, so these mushrooms can help support immunity on a daily, short-term and [in a] more holistic way through these compounds called polysaccharides, beta-D-glucans. They’re basically helping to modulate your immune system. We used to always have these huge sales spikes in October to February, but now, with just the ongoing need for immune support, people are finally realizing how important it is to support your immunity year round.

AFM: What would you say to those who are reluctant or skeptical about trying mushroom coffee for the first time?

Isokauppila: I feel like over the last eight years and even before launching Four Sigmatic, people have laughed at me when I say I drink mushrooms. But, honestly, what most of our customers are — they actually don’t eat mushrooms and they don’t love mushrooms. Many of them don’t even drink coffee. They love coffee but coffee doesn’t always love them back. The feedback we get consistently is that they don’t eat mushrooms, or drink coffee that much anymore because they get jitters or heartburn, but this is a product that allows them to enjoy their daily cup of coffee without the digestive issues or the jitters, and they get just a very smooth-tasting, enjoyable coffee moment without the possible harmful effects that coffee might have on them. So, for most people it’s just like, not looking at it as mushroom coffee but looking at it as organic, fairtrade, Arabica coffee that has these functional, enhanced ingredients that further improve the concrete benefits but also reduce the negative, harmful effects of heartburn and stuff. Also, we offer a full money-back guarantee, so if you don’t like it, it’s free.

AFM: How can people work these products into their everyday routine?

Isokauppila: You know, I’ve worked my whole life in health and wellness, and I learned early on that it’s very hard to teach people new habits. January is around the corner, which is crazy to believe, but we often start our wellness kick in January and then kind of fizzle out in February/March, because it’s really hard to sustain new habits versus maintaining existing ones or upgrading existing ones. So, what we’re trying to do is elevate these daily staples like coffee, hot chocolate, [and] plant-based protein and take these things that people already consume and further elevate them with these functional, plant-based ingredients such as these mushrooms and adaptogens but also other superfoods. I would say, if you drink coffee, then try upgrading the existing habit. It’s so easy to improve your overall health and wellness by upgrading existing habits.

AFM: What are some changes that people could expect from switching from regular coffee to mushroom coffee with adaptogens?

Isokauppila: I think the short-term benefits for many are that they don’t get heartburn or digestive issues that they might have. Coffee is amazing. It’s full of antioxidants — it’s actually the number one source of antioxidants for the U.S. consumer, but it can be stimulative and cause digestive upset. I think in a more long horizon, after drinking the coffee for 60 to 90 days, people often report improvements in skin, due to the melanin found in chaga, or they report things like stronger immunity. They used to get all kinds of small sniffles, and just the immune support function of these mushrooms helps. People notice that they are less edgy — they’re calmer. They don’t snap as often. But those are more of what people report after drinking it for a few months. But immediately, it’s just a delicious, smooth-tasting cup of coffee that doesn’t give you the jitters or digestive discomfort.

AFM: Do you have a personal favorite of all of your products?

Isokauppila: Yeah, I guess — it’s like asking which child of yours is your favorite. I try not to have favorites, but I do have seasonal rotations, so I think that’s super important for me. We’re entering holiday season, so that can lead into a couple of things: one is overeating and binge eating, and the other one is additional stress. Obviously, immunity has been a topic for the whole year, but around holidays, I find those two things common. For digestive distress, we have a new coffee with probiotics and prebiotics. Another product is the Reishi hot chocolate — it’s just like an awesome, wintery, hug-the-mug moment where you drink this plant-based, organic, rich cacao with these functional ingredients that help me sleep better. I think that’s great for stress and calming my body, so those are very seasonally relevant products, but I don’t have favorite products. I love them all equally.

AFM: You mentioned the Reishi cacao. Is there a certain way you like to drink that around the holidays?

Isokauppila: Year round, it changes a bit. Normally I use a lot of almond milk, but over the holidays, I feel like I need a little more calories, so I use coconut milk from a can — thick coconut milk, and I blend it a bit. It makes it even creamier, and it has a little body to it, so I like to do that. The other one that you actually mentioned is peppermint. I think peppermint is awesome for the lungs, and also, it just brings these holiday feels.

Photo courtesy of Four Sigmatic.




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