Since its legalisation in 2018, the cannabidiol (CBD) industry has experienced exponential growth, with sales estimated to reach $11 billion by 2027. For many, CBD products offer pain relief and a way to manage anxiety. They are often sold as oils, tinctures, capsules, and even confectionery items.
While they are vastly different products with unique markets, preparation, and consumption methods, the CBD industry has shared a similar growth trajectory and explosive boom as specialty coffee.
More so, as a new generation of coffee consumers search for innovative products, CBD coffee is gaining momentum, from cold brew to whole bean. In order to capitalise on this trend, specialty coffee roasters and cafe owners need to understand exactly what cannabidiol is and the legal aspects of offering CBD coffee.
Will CBD get coffee consumers high?
Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is a naturally occurring compound that can be derived from two types of cannabis plants: marijuana and hemp. An essential difference between these plants is their percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
While both marijuana and hemp contain THC, the amount differs. To be considered hemp, a plant must contain no more than 0.3% THC (0.2% in Europe). Any cannabis plant that has THC levels above 0.2% or 0.3% is considered marijuana.
THC is the compound which predominantly triggers the psychoactive effects of marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, is a non-intoxicating compound that interacts with some receptors in the brain. While the various effects of CBD have not yet been clinically confirmed, it has been discussed by many as a way to manage anxiety, depression, pain, epileptic seizures, diabetes, and more.
Independently, CBD and coffee offer numerous benefits. But, when the two are combined in CBD coffee, they make a powerful couple. Coffee is considered the largest source of antioxidants in the Western diet. The antioxidants present in coffee may protect cells and DNA from damage from free radicals, offering protection against ageing.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand CBD coffee is a relatively new product and there are few academic studies on the overall effects.
CBD in the specialty coffee industry
Notably, CBD is often branded as a natural alternative to addictive painkillers, making it particularly popular among younger consumers seeking healthier lifestyles.
Of all the CBD beverage products currently sold, CBD coffee is one of the most popular. The category of CBD coffee includes coffee beans, which are sometimes flavoured, as well as ground coffee, and capsules. While flavour profiles will depend on where the coffee is purchased from, the process of infusing CBD into coffee beans is unlikely to leave a residual odour or flavour.
In essence, CBD coffee is coffee mixed with cannabidiol extracted from a hemp plant. The cannabidiol extract is added to the beans after roasting in order to infuse before being allowed to dry.
CBD-infused RTD cold brew coffee is also a popular option. This is prepared using cold brew coffee and water-soluble CBD drops, offering consumers a caffeine kick without the “jitters”. For roasters, CBD coffee offerings can be a creative and highly lucrative diversification of products.
Product diversification is a simple concept. By selling new products, roasters and cafe owners can implement new revenue streams and ensure some level of future stability if there are any issues with the core product. Items such as baked goods, brewing equipment, and merchandise are common options.
What should coffee roasters know about CBD coffee?
As the CBD industry is constantly evolving, coffee roasters and cafe owners will have to consider several factors before deciding to diversify. Notably, global regulations around the legality of CBD products change almost daily, making them difficult to track. However, in recent years, there has been a noticeable move towards more relaxed regulations.
For instance, in 2018, the Farm Bill legalised CBD and hemp-derived compounds in the US and differentiated them from marijuana. Therefore, as long as CBD contains less than 0.3% THC, it is regarded as non-psychoactive and relatively safe. However, legality and regulations still vary from state to state.
In the EU, each country will have its own laws and regulations. Roasters should note that while all CBD products are yet to be legalised in every country in the EU, it is legal in some form in most member states. CBD is legal in the UK, but regulations often differ from product to product. Overall, the enforcement stance in the UK remains “soft.” To check the legality of CBD around the world, roasters can use Daily CBD’s interactive map, as it provides a specific legality breakdown by country.
Another consideration is the quality of CBD used to create CBD coffee. Roasters and cafe owners must be able to have a trustworthy source of high quality CBD oil in order to offer a consistently premium product. Additionally, specific training will be required in order to ensure the dosages used with each batch is correct.
Finally, roasters and coffee shops should be transparent with all the information regarding their CBD offerings in order to maintain consumer trust. It is essential that roasters research dosages, regulations, and side effects and make sure they engage with brands they can trust. As CBD grows, it seems like mixing it with coffee is set to no longer just be a fad or a trend, but rather a subset of the sector that is here to stay.
At MTPak Coffee, we understand how important it is for roasters to provide consistently fresh, high-quality coffee. Our range of coffee packaging is made using renewable resources, including kraft paper, rice paper, environmentally friendly PLA, and recyclable LDPE. Furthermore, we can seamlessly integrate QR codes into coffee packaging using innovative digital printing technology. QR codes can help you educate consumers about CBD and the amount in your coffee offerings. From coffee bags and pouches to paper tubes and customised boxes, MTPak Coffee offers unlimited sizing options and a range of materials to choose from.