As CBD oils, lip balms, and body lotions become common fare, CBD coffee is one addition that’s popping up more frequently.
CBD coffee, which is typically served by adding drops of CBD oil into hot coffee or espresso drinks, has made its way to select cafes and restaurants around the country. It hasn’t quite made it to Starbucks yet, but any town with a health food store or drugstore selling CBD oil is likely to sell CBD coffee as well.
To get a firsthand sense of the CBD coffee experience, I visited two local cafes to try their versions. But first, let’s take a look at how CBD coffee is made, and how CBD and caffeine are thought to work together.
How Do You Make CBD Coffee?
CBD oil blends smoothly into a latte’s frothed milk. Photo: Nic Dobija-Nootens.
The most common CBD coffee beverages are CBD lattes. This is because CBD oil blends more smoothly into the frothed milk. In drip coffee, the oil has more difficulty mixing and without constant stirring, it can pool on top.
CBD lattes usually contain a small amount of CBD, about 1 to 2 droppers’ worth.
Other methods for adding CBD to coffee include CBD-infused sweeteners such as granulated sugar, honey, and syrups.
These can be easier to incorporate into dairy-free and fat-free drinks that don’t have oils for CBD oil to dissolve into, as well as cold drinks like iced tea and iced coffee.
Azuca has a whole line of CBD-enhanced sweeteners that they currently sell wholesale. Check out their website to find a restaurant near you serving Azuca CBD sweeteners.
The other main alternative for CBD coffee is CBD-infused coffee beans.
You can grind and brew CBD-infused beans like traditional coffee or espresso, and you don’t have to add anything to them to experience the effects of the CBD.
What Happens When You Combine CBD and Caffeine?
The owner of Flower Power Coffee, Craig Leivent, has a pharmacology PhD. He got into making CBD coffee because he said he “wanted a way to get cannabinoids into almost everyone’s daily regime,” and coffee was a great vessel.
“Over 70% of adults consume coffee, so infusing a product that a large portion of the public consumes was the key,” Leivent said.
CBD is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotectant. By infusing your coffee you can be ready for what life throws your way.— Craig Leivent, PhD, Flower Power CoffeeGiven his medical background, I asked Leivent what kind of effects people should expect from drinking CBD coffee. He said the general effect is a kind of “calm focus” resulting from the mixture of CBD and caffeine. “By infusing CBD with coffee you are able to get all the benefits of the caffeine without the jitters or the crash from the coffee.”
Leivent added that there are some health benefits from this combo as well. “CBD is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotectant. By infusing your coffee you can be ready for what life throws your way.”
As far as potential risks, Leivent said there are none. If anything, he said, “the caffeine is itself is the health risk. Drinking more than 4 to 5 cups of coffee can increase your heart rate and cause palpitations. By utilizing the CBD with the caffeine, we are able to have the best of both worlds. The added energy and stimulation from the caffeine with the focus and calming effects of the CBD.”
First Stop: Oliver Coffee, Manhattan
The first place was Oliver Coffee in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan. Oliver Coffee is a staple for artists and young professionals in the neighborhood. Like a lot of restaurants that serve CBD, Oliver lets you add CBD to any beverage for an extra charge.
Many restaurants that serve CBD let you add it to any beverage for an extra charge. Photo: Nic Dobija-Nootens
I ordered a CBD latte and found that the CBD only affected the flavor by adding a piney, oaky aftertaste. I didn’t notice any particular sensation from the CBD, and since I’m a pretty heavy coffee drinker, I didn’t feel particularly energized or relaxed after finishing the latte.
If the small amount of CBD in my coffee had any effect, it was minimal.
When I asked the barista, Gigi, about her experience with CBD coffee, she said she usually drinks one CBD coffee each shift. She finds that the CBD makes her feel relaxed. “It reduces the jittery feeling from caffeine and lowers my anxiety a little.”
Gigi admitted there are kind of stereotypical customers who orders CBD coffee — 20-something year old artists and skateboarders — but she sees people of all ages and backgrounds come in to try it. “Almost every other order has CBD in it,” she said.
And while some customers use CBD for health or wellness reasons, Gigi sees plenty of people trying it just because they’re curious. “A lot of people ask for it because they think it’s funny or trendy,” she said.
I wondered if people were more or less likely to add CBD to their coffee in the morning, since most coffee drinkers are use it to help them wake up. But Gigi told me she didn’t notice people ordering it any more frequently at specific times of the day.
Next Up: Brooklyn’s Loud Baby Café
The next day I visited Loud Baby, a café at the south end of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Like Oliver Coffee, Loud Baby also adds CBD oil directly to their drinks.
Brooklyn’s Loud Baby offers CBD coffee. Photo: Nic Dobija-Nootens.
Since I wanted to try a higher CBD to coffee ratio, I opted for a CBD cappuccino this time. The CBD’s piney smell was stronger, and the top of my coffee developed a bit of a sheen. By the end I also felt the oil on my lips. However, other than a few minutes of relaxation, I didn’t notice any mental or physical effects from the CBD.
The barista, Veronica, said she sees all kinds of customers ordering CBD at all times of the day. “They say it’s good for reducing soreness, inflammation, and lower back pain,” she said. Although she did add that many people come in for CBD coffee after exercising or jogging, as a way to feel energized and ease their muscles.
Veronica uses CBD too, but she prefers it in hot tea instead of coffee. She takes it about once a day. “It makes me feel relaxed and feel like I have more energy,” she said.
Winding Down with CBD Coffee at Home
Just to take it one step further, I decided to get some CBD oil and try adding 3-4 droppers worth into some home-brewed coffee.
That higher amount of oil significantly affected the flavor and look of the coffee — very oily and piney — but it also made me feel noticeably relaxed and quiet.
Adding CBD to your coffee, in the small amounts that most cafes do, doesn’t do much to dampen the effects of the caffeine or provide a strong sense of relaxation. People who are naturally more sensitive to CBD may feel those effects in small doses. But to most coffee drinkers, it’s hardly noticeable.
It seems only a matter of time before all cafes and coffee houses around the country add CBD to their drink menu.
There are already a few brands selling CBD-infused coffee pods for Keurig machines, and given the health benefits and low risk of taking CBD, I wouldn’t be surprised to see CBD coffee everywhere soon.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the way that Sträva Craft Coffee infuses their coffee beans with CBD. They use a proprietary method to infuse the beans after roasting. They do not infuse the beans during the roasting process.