A Whole New World: How Coffee and Cannabis Pair Together
Coffee and weed seem like a match made in heaven.
Perfect for a wake and bake, ideally you get the psychoactive effects of cannabis with the energy of coffee.
Soon you could be swimming in a sea of pleasant aromas and tastes, similar to a fine pairing of wine and cheese.
But the combination has to be taken with caution, as the science is still coming in on how the two chemically combine in our brains and the effect it really can have on our bodies.
Read on for a tour of the world of coffee and cannabis together.
Coffee and cannabis studies
Before jumping into how to pair cannabis and coffee, it’s best to know the science that has been discovered behind the combination.
In 2014, a study by the Journal of Neuroscience was done to determine the effects of cannabis and coffee taken together.
In the study, squirrel monkeys were given caffeine and could get themselves high by pulling a lever, which triggered an intravenous release of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that causes cannabis’ psychoactive effect.
Caffeine blocks the neurotransmitter receptor for the chemical adenosine, which when blocked causes us to be more alert. Adenosine receptors are on both sides of our synapses, which are the connections between neurons.
The study found small amounts of caffeine blocked the presynaptic adenosine receptors, which caused the monkeys to stop administering THC, but a lot of caffeine blocked the postsynaptic adenosine receptors, causing the monkeys to increase their use of THC.
Thus, the amount of coffee one consumes could contribute to the amount of cannabis you will want to take.
Another cause of warning in mixing coffee and cannabis is that caffeine may influence the effects of cannabis.
In 2012, the same scientist as the monkey experiment, Dr. Sergi Ferre, looked at the effects of caffeine and cannabis on rats.
He found that the combination worsened the memory-limiting effects of cannabis on the rats.
Dr. Ferre told Live Science that both caffeine and cannabis increase dopamine in our brains, so when taken together, caffeine can magnify the effect of dopamine from the cannabis.
“Caffeine increases tremendously the effects of a psychostimulant, including THC and cocaine,” Dr. Ferre said. “So, any substance that releases dopamine, including THC, its effects are increased by caffeine.”
These studies, while not done on humans, should still serve as signs to take coffee and cannabis together with caution, as the pairing could increase our desire for cannabis and its effects.
A more recent study in 2018 for the Journal of Internal Medicine, done by researchers at the Northwestern University of Chicago, also examined how coffee and cannabis relate to each other.
The study found that caffeine influences the same regions of the brain that gives cannabis its effects, the neurotransmitter network called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The 3-month study involved 47 people living in Finland. In the first month, participants drank no coffee at all, in the second they had four cups a day, and in the third they drank eight cups a day.
The scientists then checked the levels of metabolites in the participants’ blood, which are chemicals produced during metabolism.
They found that with increased caffeine consumption, specifically eight cups a day, blood metabolites in the ECS dropped off.
All together, coffee altered 115 different metabolites in the blood, and one set chemicals in those metabolites was endocannabinoids, which are molecules that bind to receptors in our nervous system. Our body makes its own cannabinoids, but also responds to foreign ones, such as the ones from cannabis.
The study found that coffee had the exact opposite effect in the ECS than cannabis, which boosts endocannabinoids when consumed.
It had never been discovered before the coffee affected a metabolic process that involved endocannabinoids, leading the scientists to conclude that coffee and cannabis could have interacting effects on the same systems in our body, but those effects aren’t yet clear.
How to enjoy coffee and cannabis together
If anything can be gleaned from these experiments, it’s that coffee and cannabis do have an intimate connection in our chemistry which should be respected, leading us to recommend to take it slow and easy if experimenting with coffee and cannabis.
While the science is still being determined on the subject, the two flavours can be quite enjoyable to have together and are worthwhile of some experimentation. Here are some tips on how you could combine coffee and cannabis.
The best way to enjoy them together would invariably be a wake and bake, which is to consume cannabis to start your day.
While there are many activities that can be done after combining coffee and cannabis, we have found that one that has some slight productivity to it, and with some creativity, takes the most advantage of the combination’s effects.
Maybe now is the time to work on that portfolio website, or a script? Take the time to set your intention before taking coffee and cannabis to make the most out of the experience.
We would recommend to go for a hybrid strain of cannabis to balance the stimulating effect of the coffee. A hybrid strain will give you energy and creativity, while also a mellowing the stimulus of the caffeine, without overdoing it.
If you want a truly rich experience, find a strain and blend of coffee whose flavours compliment each other. An earthy cannabis strain, such as Chocolope, should pair well with a bold coffee.
Next, determine how you will prepare your cannabis and coffee. Part of the enjoyment of taking them together comes from the process of preparation.
For the coffee, we would recommend a method that gets the most out of its flavour. An Aeropress, Bialetti stovetop espresso maker, French press or pour over should do the trick.
For the cannabis, there’s something about the rockstar aesthetic of smoking a joint while sipping a coffee that gets us, but also consider vaping to get the most of your cannabis’ flavour.
As you prepare, take in the aromas of both the coffee and the cannabis, experience how they intermingle together. Make it a meditative experience.
Once you’ve smoked and sipped, go about the task you set earlier, and take full advantage of the creative energy it might give you.
Rise of the cannabis café
With cannabis now legal in Canada, there is the potential for there to be a thriving coffee shop scene in the country, similar to Amsterdam, however, there are still obstacles to be overcome.
Currently in Canada you are not allowed to sell food or beverage along with cannabis, but that may change in the next year as the government considers how to regulate edibles and drinkables, which are food and drinks respectively that are combined with cannabis.
However, the ground is already being set for the possible rise of cannabis cafes in Canada.
Tokyo Smoke is one brand that sells both coffee and cannabis, although not in the same locations. They currently have five cafes in Toronto and one in Calgary, as well as four dispensaries in Manitoba.
“When we looked at creating community, eradicating stigma and creating an approachable home for people to learn about cannabis and cannabis culture, the first thing that comes to mind is a coffee shop,” said Josh Lyon, VP of Marketing at Tokyo Smoke. “[Cafes are] a nice way for us to present cannabis and cannabis culture in a way that people are comfortable with.”
While regulations prevent Tokyo Smoke from selling both cannabis and coffee in the same location, Lyon believes that Canada will eventually get to the point where there will be “social consumption lounges” in order to normalize cannabis and provide an option for consumers that is “equal to or better than what consumers are used to.”
“If you look at Amsterdam and the popularity of the coffee shop culture there, it’s a potentially good indicator that there will be interest [in Canada as well.]”
Like Amsterdam, combining coffee and cannabis in a relaxed social experience could also be a tourism attraction for Canada – an industry that Lyon thinks will be a “massive.”
“I think there’s an appetite for [places to consume cannabis], so if it is part of the whole cannabis experience, it will add to the overall ambience of what we can provide,” he said.
Along with Tokyo Smoke, other shops have popped up that are mingling coffee and cannabis together as well.
Cannabis activist Jodie Emery opened a cannabis coffee shop in Toronto’s Kensington Market, cleverly named Jodie’s Joint.
While you can’t purchase cannabis there yet, Emery told Toronto Star that she has always dreamed of bringing cannabis and coffee together.
“I’ve always wanted to have the ‘Amsterdam model,’ where adults can enjoy coffee, cannabis, and food in a café,” she said.
For now, Emery is selling coffee as well as hemp-based products and food.
One brand that has already combined dispensary with café is CAFÉ, which has three locations in downtown Toronto. There, you can buy a coffee and a pastry on the bottom floor and cannabis in a separate room, although you cannot consume the cannabis on the premises.
Corporations may get into the cannabis coffee shop scene as well. Second Cup has announced it is interested in converting its shops to dispensaries, however there is no word if they would continue to sell coffee there.
While the laws are still being sorted on drinkables in Canada, that hasn’t stopped some budding companies from offering cannabis and coffee products.
Hippie Brew is one company that has combined the two for you. They offer coffee infused with 50-200 milligrams of THC per cup of coffee.
BrewBudz offers single serve pods with 10 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg doses so you can choose how high you’d like to get. They are 100 percent compostable, so you don’t need to feel guilty about the extra packaging.
Canyon Cultivation also goes on the lighter side by only offering 10 mg of THC combined with Guatemalan beans.
If you’d like to go even lighter, FlowerPower combines cannabidiol, or CBD, with coffee, such as the Buckeye Blend that has 30 mg of CBD. CBD is a cannabinoid in cannabis that counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC, providing a non-psychoactive, more calming high.
If you really want to give’er, House of Jane has some of the highest doses you can find in coffee and cannabis products, up to 200 mg, and uses CO2 cannabis oil that doesn’t taste or smell like cannabis at all, so it is just like you are just drinking coffee.
You don’t even have to buy cannabis-infused coffee either, but can simply make it yourself – the bulletproof way.
Bulletproof coffee is coffee with a dab of butter in it, but instead of regular butter, you can use cannabis-infused butter instead.
Cannabutter can be frozen to use in the future, so you can have cannabis coffee whenever you feel like, without the preparation time.
Take a sip on the wild side
Cannabis and coffee is still new territory that has yet to be fully explored commercially and in the mainstream.
While the science is still coming in on how the two combine, it is wise to proceed with caution.
However, having brew and bud together may one day be as commonplace as going to a bar, and there is a whole world that can be explored in terms of how the flavours pair together.
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