This is a guest post by Tyler Heal, a coffee addict who spends most of his spare time writing about his passion, coffee. He’s also the editor of Coffee Grind Guru, a blog that’s dedicated to providing coffee lovers of all experience levels with the knowledge needed to improve their daily cup o’ joe.
WARNING: Before I launch into a topic that has seen its fair share of highs (no pun intended!) and lows, I want to take a moment to explicitly point out that in no way does coffeeblog.co.uk endorse the recreational use of cannabis, nor encourage medical use without first having consent and approval from a certified GP. Additionally, I have no doubt that laws will continue to change in and around the world and encourage all readers to stay abreast of the latest campaigns, legalese, and discussions by seeking counsel with their local and national governments.
Mary Jane. Weed. Pot. Ganja. Skunk. Grass. Reefer. Broccoli. Dope. Roach.
I could keep going, of course, but won’t bore you with semantics since you already know what I’m talking about: marijuana.
Cannabis, which is the scientific name for the entire hemp plant, is where we derive both psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds for various recreational and medicinal uses (more of this anon, of course). This plant has not been without its fair share of controversy over the years, however, and has only met with some decriminalization in Europe (but not, and we repeat, NOT the UK), Canada, Australia, and certain states within the US. Of course, and what’s far more interesting to note, is that a similar little plant had just as rough a time making it into mainstream culture years ago. You guessed it: coffee!
That said, did you know that since the seed was first found and ground in Ethiopia circa 800 A.D., there have been five attempts to ban it? The last go at it, cultural prohibitions aside, was embarked upon by the Swedish government in 1746 and, get this, due to the belief that too much coffee drinking would negatively impact the country’s beer consumption!
Still, and while I do not claim to be a scientist, medical professional, lawyer, or historian, it should go without saying that caffeine and cannabis are both considered psychoactive drugs and should only be imbibed with the utmost of care.
Even though you can find certain compounds for sale in healthcare stores throughout the UK, there are a whole host of laws prohibiting the sale, movement, transportation, etc. of certain amounts and concentrates. So, that said, while I promote creativity and education around the fine art of beans and brews, I do not encourage folks to go out for a cannabis-infused coffee, try a little espresso-con-cannabis, or the like in public or while operating machinery.
Whew, right. So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s you and I get down to the nitty gritty of just what CBD-coffee is, where it can be found, and, most importantly, can it be sipped, savoured and enjoyed.
What exactly is CBD?
You’ll recall from my previous commentary above that cannabis has a whole host of compounds. These can be either psychoactive or non-psychoactive in nature. The former means that you may experience a high based on the compound commonly known as THC. This acronym stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and is that compound, or cannabinoid, that is responsible for making you feel high and sending you on a trip.
Quickly, and so as not to bore you with too much science (ew, I know, right?), a cannabinoid can be thought of as the key to the brain’s many, many door-like receptors. The receptors that THC unlocks are CB1 and CB2, among others. These are most influenced by smoking or spraying cannabis as they bypass your liver and head straight for your heart and brain.
On the other side of the coin, of course, is the sometimes legal, sometimes not, cannabinoid CBD. While this little guy is still a key, he is unable to open the same doors and is the non-intoxicating part of the plant that is most often times found in edibles and drinks. This means that CBD is likely to bypass your brain and end up heading toward your stomach and liver for all the same physical benefits, but without all the sometimes scary side-effects of THC.
But what do the brain and body have to say?
So, in keeping with the above, what might some of those scary side-effects be and what does the brain and body have to say about the potential benefits?
First off, both THC and CBD have many of the same positive, physical benefits: pain relief, nausea reduction in general as well as from chemotherapy treatments, reduction in number of migraines and their severity after onset, fewer seizures and magnitude of episodes when they do occur, and inflammation reduction, among others. Win for the brain and body, right?
Second, and as I stated previously, THC can have some unwelcome psychoactive side effects. This cannabinoid can increase appetite (and I don’t just mean an increase in the munchies here–watch out Frito-Lay, here I come!), but in those persons who might be treating a particular symptom and who also have type-II diabetes.
Alternatively, THC and CBD can help with depression and anxiety, which may present as disordered eating or PTSD wherein the individual might need to be coaxed into going out and having another scone, muffin, or tasty treat. As for the brain and body, we’ll just have to call it a draw.
Next up, there is the argument that CBD and THC are detrimental for brains under the age of 22 to 23 and can result in an increase in suicide, schizophrenia, and, perhaps, dependency. Eek! Call this a loss for brain and body.
Taken together, however, and moving into my final point, you might be asking yourself, well, if all of that is true, then what should I make of all those newspaper reports about little kids no longer suffering from seizures and adults being ‘cured’ of cancer? Hm, well, I might caution you to read the fine print as, and despite the media’s best of intentions, you can’t trust everything you see, read, or hear on the Internet.
You will see from the above that legal, medical, and psychological experts, especially in the UK, are far from making a definitive decision on just how to classify CBD and THC.
What is CBD coffee?
But, and as evidenced in Wales and Jersey: where there is demand, there shall be supply! The former is an interesting case, though, and certainly worth a look since you’re probably thinking, right, why coffee and cannabis now? Isn’t that the whole premise of Amsterdam and, er, coffeeshops?
First off, and I didn’t want to be the one to say it, but…
Sorry, Toto, but it looks like we’re not in Kansas anymore!
Or, Amsterdam, as it were, which is to say that even though cannabis was never truly legal there (it just came by way of a tricky ‘front door/back door’ policy) the war on drugs is finally starting to come to an end in places like the UK and the EU.
That means you no longer have to find coffeeshops for a pairing of cannabinoids and caffeine, but, instead, simply root out those shops that serve coffee! Now there’s a concept, right?
Still, if you do not want to jump right into an infused brew à la Bogart’s and other places like it, then pairing caffeine and cannabis outside of your body (with both THC and CBD eventually joining forces with caffeine within your body) might be something you stick with for a wee bit longer, assuming you do so responsibly.
Secondly, and if you rather enjoy a good cup o’ joe along with the aroma and mouthfeel, then you might want to note that cannabis is actually not water-soluble. Right, so, think oil slick on a puddle here and you might get an idea of how this coffee will taste, or: not-so-good to the last drop ;-).
There are ways around this, but I really, strongly caution you against exploring them in full unless you (a) trust your supplier and (b) have a bit of organic chemistry knowledge. What I mean to say, is that CBD oil can be made into hybrid compounds through the addition of acid, which turns CBD and THC into any of the following: CBDA, CBN, CDC, CBGA, CBG, THCA, THCV, and still more.
Besides the bad taste, coffeeshops and shops that sell coffee are a long ways off from developing an emulsified CBD oil that either takes to water (ideal) or can be added to essential oils such as peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, ginger, or clove prior to going in your mug sort of like creamer.
I guess I’m just trying to be clear, here, that ‘the game’ of infusion needs some work. I don’t buy into all the hypeful claims and gimmicks, but I am hopeful that CBD-coffee could be a vehicle for greater acceptance of cannabis in the UK and further afield. That said, we all need to be good stewards of this plant (and its forbearer, coffee!) and imbibe responsibly.
So, as an alternative, I recommend purchasing CBD oil from a known source (GNC sells it here in the UK as well as smaller, certified shops!) and infusing your own coffee, using single origin beans to start and adding only small doses to start maintaining the integrity of the coffee-tasting experience so as not to lose out on mouthfeel, taste, and aroma.
A little dab (no pun intended!) will d’ya!
My Thoughts on CBD and/with/on/around coffee!
Cannabis is an awesome little plant IMHO with over 500 components and 104 cannabinoids that could possess a bunch of miracle cures.
But I also want you, dear reader ;-), to avoid experiencing that nasty last-drop of pure oil in your mouth and would suggest sourcing your own CBD oils with ‘hybrid’ cannabinoids for lighter roasts or indica CBD-oils for those who use the French press brewing method since this could prevent the ‘oil’ slick on the top or bottom of your coffee.
Ultimately, coffeeshops and shops that serve coffee are likely to continue trying their hand at CBD-coffee so that drinkers experience all the healthy benefits of CBD but without all the oil hitting the consumer at once.
Thus, should you decide to try a cup of CBD-coffee while out and about, just take care that you know the risks from the law and are aware that you could experience an increased heart rate, coordination issues (again, please do not drink and use heavy machinery), dry mouth, red eyes, delayed reaction times, and momentary forgetfulness. But go ahead and creatively experiment around infusing in the lawless confines of your kitchen 😉
Regardless of your decision on whether to act on the trend, here’s to a not-so-long or strange trip! Bon voyage!