CBD coffee: fad or the future?

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

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Getty Images

Related tags Cbd Coffee Caffeine Drink functional beverage

Following an increasing popularity and a heightened influx of brands promoting the CBD and coffee pairing, touting an ability to reduce side effects associated with caffeine, a regulatory expert has warned the research backing the benefits is inconclusive.

New offerings from cafes and brands promoting the pairing includes CBD shots in lattes or CBD-infused ground coffee.

The brands often use anecdotal marketing methods, describing the combination to be potentially symbiotic, with the compounds resulting in the possible reduction of the caffeine-related symptoms of shakiness and anxiety.

For example, one brand claims that consuming CBD through coffee enables it to be “metabolised more slowly” for a “longer lasting, powerful effect”.

Other brands spotlight its potential ability to “combat the effects of stress, tension and irritability”, and promote “calmness, focus and relief from common caffeine side effects”.

Yet, Stephen Oliver, co-founder of the CBD consultancy Canna Consultants, warns that with research into this ingredient still in its infancy and novel food reviews still taking place, these companies may run into issues in the future.

“CBD at low doses is a stimulant, yet at high doses it has a sedentary effect. What we don’t know is how CBD and caffeine interact together. Does one boost the stimulating effect of the other? We know that they work on similar receptors in the endocannabinoid system, but there is insufficient data at the moment.”

Referring to the Novel Foods approval process he added: “I think people with caffeine CBD products are going to have big issues and may have to go away and look at how CBD and caffeine interact.

“Coffee is very interesting. When you look at the public list, there are some validated coffee products and some awaiting evidence. Nobody at this stage has looked at the interaction between caffeine and CBD. That’s what is going to happen next,” he explains.

He highlights potential complications with such products, due to the differing methods involved in coffee production, such as freeze drying, as well as the range of consumer preparation methods; which all impact the dosage of CBD. He adds that the application of heat also has an impact, with chemical reactions ultimately causing the conversion of the cannabinoids.

“When you analyse a coffee ingredient, it’s not going to be the same as when you serve it as a cup of coffee. It’s also very difficult to work out a serving, because if it’s ground coffee, does it get caught on the filter?

“It’s very difficult to say what a dose of CBD is once it’s been through an additional process before ingestion. So there will be lots of issues, and it makes it very easy for regulators to stop the clock during the assessment phase,” he stresses.

Innovation freeze

Despite these concerns, Oliver draws attention to the “huge consumer demand” for CBD coffee products, suggesting an area of strong marketing potential.

Paired with this, sales of functional beverages have exploded as consumers put health and convenience front-of-mind.

Yet, whilst novel food applications are processed, there has been a freeze on innovation and product development within existing companies, representing a significant challenge to players in the CBD industry.

CBD has had an increasing backing of evidence ​reporting benefits for conditions such as anxiety, stress, and sleep; issues further emphasised by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there is still a lack of approved health claims and clarified dosages for CBD, highlighting the need for further research to advance this area.

 

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