Coffee shops across the nation are experimenting with CBD in their lattes—here’s what you need to know.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Patent Coffee
As more and more states legalize marijuana, you’ve probably started to hear about CBD. CBD—which stands for cannabidiol—is made from the same stuff as marijuana, but doesn’t produce the same high. (THC is responsible for that.)
However, CBD has been all the rage because folks swear by its anti-anxiety applications—although it doesn’t get you high, anecdotally folks report that CBD helps reduce anxiety and increase focus and clarity. The science on this is still fuzzy, and there’s lots to learn, but the 2018 Farm Bill allowed for wider distribution of CBD indirectly by allowing the cultivation of hemp. CBD, once regulated to the same status as THC and other marijuana products, is now a lot easier to get and use across the nation. (The laws are still murky and vary widely state to state—please check state laws before pursuing a CBD option for your café.)
Folks like Emily Williams, manager and lead barista of Patent Coffee in midtown Manhattan, are incorporating CBD into their menu. “We launched CBD on our cafe menu on 4/20 along with our spring seasonal drinks. We initially offered it in an Arnold Palmer and a cold brew,” she shares. “We did it to be kinda funny, and were planning to just serve them for the rest of the month and then let it drop off. But our customer base loved it! We have it on the menu now to be able to add 15mg of CBD to any drink for $2.”
Its popularity is also matched with its profitability. “It’s come down to about 10 percent of our sales comes from CBD,” Emily notes. Although CBD is popular, it can be difficult to pair with coffee—the taste is noticeable and hard to cover up. “I don’t personally drink it with coffee unless I’m going to go all out with cream or sugar because it affects the flavor too much,” Emily notes. However, the flavor has been a draw for some customers. “I’ve considered other brands of CBD that the flavor is a little more subtle, but our customer base has repeatedly told us they like our drinks because it’s such a potent ‘pot’ flavor.”
Emily was no stranger to CBD, having heard about it from her husband. “I first heard about CBD after my husband got his medical marijuana card for NYC to get off of five different prescriptions his doctors had him on. When he was able to quit morphine cold turkey just from using this vape and then the other four prescriptions that were given to him for the side effect of morphine, I was intrigued because I have chronic back pain. So I have been using CBD for about 1.5 years.”
Other coffee companies have been using CBD on their menus. Four Letter Word in Chicago sells a sparkling water with CBD, the Australian oat milk brand Minor Figures sells CBD tinctures on their website, and there’s even a coffee company called CBD Coffee (we’re not exactly sure what they’re about—except that they sell “CBD infused beans”). You can find CBD coffee products at places like Strava Craft Coffee in Denver, in cold brew form from folks like Superlost in Brooklyn, and you can sip on some Chill Brew from the folks at Abracadabra Coffee in Woodstock, Vt.
CBD is increasingly popular as it gains more and more media attention. “Some people come in super stoked because we say we offer it on our A-frame outside. Some people can’t believe it’s legal, and then we get the chance to educate them [on] the difference between CBD and straight-up marijuana,” Emily explains.
For those considering exploring CBD for your menu, Emily recommends giving CBD the same care you’d give your coffee. “Just like we want to know where our coffee comes from, what any extra ingredients are in our pastries, etc.—put the energy that you’d put into any of those things into what CBD you’re going to use. Since it’s such a ‘fad’ right now, everyone’s hopping on the bandwagon and trying to make a quick buck. Research where your CBD is coming from, if there’s any extra ingredients, what those ingredients are,” she suggests. “Research where your CBD is coming from, [and] if there’s any extra ingredients, what those ingredients are. One of the biggest things I’m seeing in stores is when CBD products don’t tell you how many milligrams are in it. If you don’t know how many milligrams are in a bottle, how do you know how much to take and how many are in a serving?”
This is probably going to be a continuing story—as we learn more about CBD and other cafés implementing it, we’ll keep you posted.