I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. I can’t start my day without it, but by the end of my morning cup I’m often left feeling jittery and anxious.
A new coffee add-on promises to keep all the best part of your daily caffeine fix while doing away with the negative side effects. Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-hallucinogenic chemical in marijuana, has become the new “it” wellness ingredient. It’s also making a big splash into coffee: you can buy CBD coffee K-cups, add CBD sugar syrup to your latté at trendy coffee shops, and even track down cans of CBD-infused cold brew.
But those who like some celebrity with their cannabis-infused cup of joe, they can try the beans from Willie’s Remedy on for size. It’s the first product from Willie Nelson’s (yes, the Red Haired Stranger himself) CBD-centric company. The coffee beans launched in February of this year.
Each 8-ounce cup of Willie’s java contains 7mg of hemp-derived CBD. The coffee beans are covered in full spectrum hemp oil (read: CBD oil) just after roasting, which they absorb as they cure. According to Elizabeth Hogan, Willie’s Remedy’s VP of Brands, who spoke to me on the phone last week, this process allows the CBD oil to evenly distribute through the beans and fully extract into the final cup of coffee.
Obviously I had to try some. I brewed up a cup of Willie’s Remedy Columbian coffee the other day, right as my mid-afternoon work slump started to hit.
The end result tasted… like coffee. Not amazing coffee, but very passable, fairly good coffee. I thought I could detect a slight hint of grassy cannabis flavor on the tail end of my sip, but that could have just been because I was looking for it.
That’s actually the way I felt about most of my CBD coffee experience: I couldn’t tell if I was actually being affected, or if it was mostly placebo. I certainly felt the energy kick that comes with a strong cup of black coffee. But was I also more relaxed? Focused? Calm? I can’t really tell you.
There could be a lot of reasons why I felt so ambivalent towards my first sip of CBD coffee. Maybe I didn’t drink enough. CBD also affects everyone differently, so perhaps I just have a high tolerance for it. Or maybe Willie’s Remedy suffers from the same problems that a lot of CBD food and drink companies do: consistency — or lack thereof.
Assuming each serving of beans contains the exact amount of CBD advertised, you also have disparate brewing methods and water temperatures to deal with. Would CBD coffee made in a French Press have the same effect as that brewed in an industrial coffee pot or an aeropress? Details like this matter. CBD coffee is generally meant to be drunk during a work day; a pick-me-up without the jitters. While too much CBD won’t make you high, it could make you less than motivated for your 3 p.m. meeting.
All CBD products could benefit from some dosing oversight, which was one of the topics broached in the FDA’s public hearing on CBD last week. The FDA has yet to approve CBD as a food-safe ingredient, which means a) it’s technically illegal to sell food or drink containing CBD, and b) nobody is regulating CBD edibles (or drinkables). Companies like TraceTrust are trying to install a universal stamp to indicate that cannabis products contain the exact amount of THC or CBD that they advertise, but they’re still relatively small.
Until it’s approved by the FDA all we can do is trust that CBD-infused food and drink actually contain the dosages they claim. That’s where celebrity affiliations can really help differentiate products. Willie’s Remedy is smart to emphasize its namesake in its branding, knowing it will set it apart from the flood of CBD-infused beverages heading to market (which will get even more crowded after the FDA gives CBD the thumbs-up).
Soon enough I might be able to try my Willie’s Remedy coffee with Snoop Dogg non-dairy CBD creamer. Maybe then I’ll feel a stronger effect.