As legalization/ decriminalization sweeps across the country, marijuana enthusiasts are becoming more and more creative with how they consume cannabis-infused products. The latest craze meets at the intersection of the two most readily consumed drugs in the U.S.: coffee and weed.
Caffeine is a Drug
Though it’s hard to imagine now, coffee and weed once faced FDA had officially come out as opposed to caffeine with commissioner similar opposition. In the late 1800’s there was a strong anti-caffeine movement inspired in part by the popularization of a revolutionary new drink, Coca-Cola. By 1912 the newly establisheand lead-chemist Dr. Harvey Wiley publicly stating:
“Coca-Cola is a first artificial cousin of coffee, because the dope that men put in Coca-Cola is the dope the Lord puts in coffee-caffeine… I would not give my child coffee or tea any more than I would give him poison”
It may very well have been the FDA’s wish to have congress levy a tax on coffee similar to what would be the 1937 Marijuana Tax but it was far too late to do so, coffee had become one of the most valuable commodities in international trade and with the advent of WWI followed by the Temperance Movement, Americans were consuming millions of pounds per year. By the mid 1950’s the “coffee break” had become a standard in the American workplace– the United States would never put down the mug….
A New High: Cannabis Coffee
…But it would pick up the pipe. With recreational marijuana now legal in four states and more legalization on the way, it’s only natural that people begin experimenting with products that combine these two now-legal highs.
Smoking weed and drinking caffeine is nothing new (it’s affectionately referred to as “the hippie speedball”) but a few entrepreneurs have started creating “cannabis coffee” in which THC is directly infused into the coffee bean itself. This isn’t your usual bulletproof coffee with cannabutter in it (if that can be considered usual). In this case, companies like Portland-based Fairwinds Manufacturing are actually using chemical processes to add THC to their cannabis coffee so all you have to do is brew “a cup o’ joe.”
Chemically, that’s not such an easy task. According to Fairwinds’ owner James Hull,
“To infuse the coffee beans with the cannabis oil, It is not as simple as spraying the coffee beans with the oil. To ensure proper extraction of the cannabis oil from the coffee grounds and to ensure solubility in the cup of coffee, we must first prepare the cannabis oil mixture prior to application. We add ingredients that allow the cannabis oil to become soluble with the water-based coffee.” Fairwinds makes both loose coffee and packets compatible with instant coffee machines.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, coffee shop owner Kian Abedini of Compelling & Rich has taken an entirely different approach to his “cannabis coffee.” Rather than focusing on infusing THC (which arguably defeats the purpose of drinking coffee in the first place), Kian has opted to create a cannabis coffee which focuses on infusing the aromas and flavors of cannabis without THC, creating an entirely different (and legal) experience: “It’s a way to take an extraordinary coffee and make it even better,” claims Kian who accomplished the task by steeping coffee beans with vaporized marijuana as they roast, allowing the beans to absorb aromatic compounds. Though all the THC is burned off in the process, the dank flavor still remains which means this cannabis coffee can be marketed to everyone, not just medicinal patients– so far the response has been largely positive.
Could cannabis coffee be the new ultimate experience for connoisseurs? Could this become its own category of consumption perhaps even getting its own competition ala The High Times Cannabis Cup?