I love coffee, and for twenty some years, I’ve had a cup or two (or in my college days, maybe three or four, every day) but I haven’t been drinking much coffee at all for over two weeks. My doctor told me not to, for a while, and she handed me some anti-anxiety supplements. Excuse me while I breathe into this paper bag over here. Is it possible that being instructed not to consume something that amps up anxiety can actually give me more anxiety? Coffee is my morning ritual. Much like Dolly Parton, I tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition, yawn and stretch and try to come alive. Okay, mostly that, except it also involves grinding my dark French roast, loading up my mini espresso machine, and clicking the on-button. While I listen for the familiar hiss and drip, I do a little kitchen clean-up, open the windows, and watch the older couple from down the street take their daily brisk walk past my patio. As the steam floats off of the counter, I see it. My own dark potent cup of ambition. The first sip always opens my eyes from half to full mast. What’s a girl who loves coffee but needs to take a coffee hiatus supposed to drink? Well. These are the times I’m so grateful that I have smart and industrious friends, the kind who happen to be herbalists and entrepreneurs. The kind who make a little something that has saved me in my coffee exile: Reishi Roast. My dear friend Amy Charnay and her dear friend Lily Mazzarella concocted this magical blend as something to either accompany coffee (think half-caf) or to drink instead, and as of July 2014, it was ready for purchase. I’ve been drinking it for the last month and a half, at first blended with my coffee, and that was a tasty combo—chocolatey, nutty, rich. I like to think of it as a medicinal mocha. Look at these incredible ingredients. I loved blending Reishi Roast with my coffee, and hadn’t really felt the need to drink it solo. Then I went to my ND for the heart flutteriness I’ve been experiencing this summer after a fairly intense year (cohabitating again for the first time since my divorce, the deaths of two women who have been second moms to me, managing some growing pains in running my own business), and we decided it was important to do whatever I can to chill out, calm down, and remember to breathe. Hence the coffee break. But not the kind with coffee. So I started to drink the Reishi Roast by itself, and honestly, sipping it in the morning has kept me sane. It’s pretty rich on its own, so my favorite way to drink it is as a latte. I still can taste that bitter, roasted, coffee-like flavor in a cup of something warm and chocolate-colored. I still feel my eyes opening wider. In the midst of life’s upheaval, something that feels steady and similar offers great comfort to me. Not to mention that I’ve felt more relaxed and peaceful as I move through my day—look mom, no jitters! And I still get my ritual, mildly adjusted. Still mellow from sleep, I put the kettle on and scoop out some RR. I drink some lemon water and take my anti-anxiety herbs and open up the kitchen window. I breathe. While the Reishi Roast steeps, I boil some coconut almond milk, and then pour both into a big mug, and I’m a happy camper. I don’t feel deprived. Amy and Lily were also happy to share a sample with Jordan Rosenfeld, managing editor at Sweatpants & Coffee and a longtime fan of the wonders of reishi. “I’ve tasted a lot of coffee replacements in my time—having grown up in the holistic health rich soil of northern California, but Reishi Roast is probably my favorite. And I don’t know about you, but I just enjoy something twice as much when I know it’s good for me.” Since I love to know the stories behind everything, I interviewed the makers of Reishi Roast, and found myself equal parts entertained and enlightened by their answers. As someone committed to stepping out of exhaustion and overwork, my ears perked up especially at the wisdom Lily and Amy had to share about creating products to enhance the quality of life for those of us who suffer from the energy/fatigue rollercoaster. Take a gander at our interview below, and if you’d like to order up some Reishi Roast for yourself, visit their online store and then join the ongoing conversation on Facebook.
Q&A with Amy Charnay & Lily Mazzarella, the makers of Reishi Roast
In the packaging, you describe Reishi Roast as life saving. What do you mean?
Lily and I have both experienced severe life altering health issues at various points in our lives including adrenal exhaustion, environmental sensitivities, sleep disturbances and GI distress. Reishi, and several of the other herbs in RR, were a huge part of our recoveries back to good health! We wanted to find a way to incorporate reishi into daily use with other supportive herbs, with the goal of making reishi into a daily, delicious ritual. It allows us to drink coffee (which we also consider life saving 🙂 and allows us to enjoy the benefits of coffee because it offsets the stimulating and depleting effects of coffee, which were too harsh for us. In a clinical setting we’ve witnessed the incredible health benefits of reishi, and now RR, and wanted to make it available to a wider market.
What is your big vision for RR?
Our vision is to share the health benefits of adaptogens, super foods and medicinal herbs, making them available to people as part of their everyday lives. We plan to expand our line to include various products that infuse one’s daily experience with nourishing unicorn magic. These days, many people are depleted, burning the candle at both ends, on the energy/fatigue roller coaster and we enjoy making products that improve the quality of their lives. We know that these nourishing herbs make peoples lives easier – improved energy & mood, improved sleep & increased stress resiliency to name a few.
What do you love most about RR yourselves?
First, we love the way it makes us feel. Second, we love the way it tastes. Our coffee tastes naked without it now! Third, we love how versatile it is. Customers utilize it in various ways including brewed solo, brewed with coffee, to wean off of coffee, iced RR, RR late or other fun beverage, and an as afternoon pick me up without caffeine to deal with those afternoon lulls in a healthy way. Some customers have even made RR ice cream and ‘coffee’ cake!
If you had to pick, what’s the most important health/wellness benefit of drinking RR?
We live in a depleting world and RR helps balance that by providing multi system support including adrenal, liver/detox and immune to name a few.
What’s something that average person might not know about RR/drinking coffee that you wish more people knew?
That RR is an adaptogenic blend which means that it offers support for multiple glands and organs and increases our ability to adapt to stressors. Adaptogens are unique to herbal medicine and improve the functioning of the entire body. Studies and a long history of traditional use around the world show that adaptogens help you increase your energy, sleep better, and get sick less often.
What kind of coffee/milk do you like to use with your RR?
Milks: our favorites are hemp, almond & coconut.
Coffees: Bulletproof & local Organic Taylor Maid are our favorites.
Were any unicorns harmed in the making of this magical concoction?
Only one and she totally deserved it.
*note: as of the publication of this article, we’re happy to report that Jen Violi’s anxiety is down and the ratio of coffee to Reishi Roast is on the rise.