Making cannabis coffee is now as simple as inserting a pod and pushing a button.
In Seattle, Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop sells pods of Catapult “premium infused coffee” for $10 each. The pods work in standard, single-serve coffee makers and contain 10 mg of THC, a quantity of marijuana's active ingredient that's becoming something of a standard serving for marijuana edibles.
“I liken it to a Red Bull and vodka,” Uncle Ike’s sales manager Jennifer Lanzador said. “I had more energy, but I still had the relaxation you get from cannabis.”
Uncle Ike’s began its foray into the pot coffee business by selling loose grounds sourced from a local manufacturer, but pods are quickly becoming big sellers, she said.
James Hull, whose Vancouver, Wash.-based Fairwinds Manufacturing, makes the infused coffee sold at Uncle Ike's, said pods now account for about 60% of his company's coffee sales.
Meanwhile, several startups also are trying to break into the cannabis coffee space.
Two of them — Ed Rosenthal’s Select Coffee & Tea and House of Jane— were among the companies competing for funding at the latest meeting of the ArcView Investor Forum, which conducts “Shark Tank”-style pitch sessions for entrepreneurs a few times a year.
Ed Rosenthal’s Select Coffee & Tea aims to capitalize on the brand name of Ed Rosenthal, an icon of marijuana growing who has authored several books on the topic and already sells a line of pre-rolled joints.
“Ed’s been wanting to come up with a new product that’s not the standard candy bar,” CEO Ross Franklin said.
Rosenthal also had ready access to “trim,” the part of the marijuana plant that’s essential to edibles manufacturing, as a result of his other ventures.
House of Jane already is selling its marijuana-infused coffees, teas and creamers in dozens of California dispensaries and plans to expand to Nevada when medical marijuana shops begin opening their doors there.
The California company sells four versions of marijuana-infused coffee pods: medium roast, dark roast, decaf and mocha café. It also sells infused instant coffee and flavored creamers, one of which has already been awarded the prestigious best edible award at HempCon, one of the world’s largest medical marijuana trade shows.
House of Jane’s Ben-David Sheppard says he also has an infused vanilla bean "Frappuccino" in the works that he hopes to launch this summer, an allusion to Starbucks' well-known icy coffee beverage.
Edibles, a product category that includes infused-coffees, has been growing in popularity and is expected to account for more than half of all cannabis revenues this year, according to the latest market research report from IBISWorld.
That's a good thing, says Emily Paxhia, co-founder of Poseidon Asset Management, a California asset manager focused on marijuana-related investments.
While she doesn't like the level of waste K-cups create, “the more that cannabis can be consumed in forms that are familiar to broader populations, the more interesting it’s going to become to a mass market,” she said.
Correction: This story initially referred to cannabis-infused coffee pods as K-cups, a trademarked term used to refer only to coffee pods licensed to use Keurig technology. No cannabis-infused coffee manufacturers have such licensing.