By JOHN LEHNDORFF
(Originally published in the March 2019 issue of Sensi magazine.)
You can’t miss the CBD doughnuts in the glass display case at Glazed & Confuzed, the artisan doughnut emporium at Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace. The eye-catcher is a yeast-raised classic with raspberry-blueberry glaze crowned with a distinctive candied fresh Colorado-grown hemp leaf.
It is the most colorful and palate-pleasing sign that cannabinoid cuisine is finally taking hold in a Colorado cafes, restaurants and bars now that hemp has been legalized. A handful of local spots are blazing a trail by dishing buttered coffee, smoothies, cocktails and even breakfast cereal with CBD.
CBD – short for cannabidiol — is not THC and won’t get you high. It’s a cannabinoid that may help with anxiety, pain, relaxation and especially inflammation. In food it is usually available as an oil extracted from hemp, much of it currently grown in Colorado. Cooks can’t use CBD extracted from cannabis or make any specific health claims, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
In the infancy of CBD fare, there has also been some legal and regulatory bumps in the road. In several states, food inspectors have ordered cafes to stop selling CBD food and drink until regulations have been developed. In Colorado, a few financial services providers have declined to process sales of CBD food and drink items.
Rx: CBD Doughnut Daily
“I’ve been part of the cannabis community for 20 years. Now I finally get to feature local hemp CBD in my business. We add a powdered CBD isolate that’s colorless and tasteless at 20 mg per doughnut,” said Josh Schwab, owner of Glazed & Confuzed, also opening at Denver’s new Broadway Market.
The shop sells five to ten of the pricey CBD doughnuts a weekday and 20 to 30 daily on weekends, he said.
There is no law or regulation yet that indicates an age limit on purchases. “We look at customers and if they seem to be under 18 we don’t sell it to them but they really don’t ask. ‘” he said.
The folks purchasing them are not stoners, Schwab said. “The majority of my clientele are professional people – nurses, lawyers, businesspeople. That’s who buys the CBD doughnuts. I have doctors who get them and say they really support CBD. They just can’t prescribe it yet,” he said.
‘Espresso with CBD for Anakin’
At Precision Pours, coffee geeks feel right at home. The owner and chief nerd at the Louisville cafe, Brice Young, loves to tweak each cup perfectly right so he asks a lot of questions. Do you like a lighter roast or darker? Would you like this fruity light roast or the more astringent dark roast? How do you like your crema on top – foamy, dense or thin? Room for cream? Lately, Young has a new query: “Would you like that latte with CBD?”
“We brew Strava Craft Coffee from Denver which infuses roasted beans with full spectrum hemp CBD oil. You get a mild 5 to 10 mg CBD in each cup,” he said.
Precision Pours uses Blue Bird Botanicals CBD oil in cocoa, chai and matcha lattes and in the glaze on his sourdough brioche buns. “That way you can vary the amount from 20 to 50 mgs per serving,” he said.
Young was initially wary. “I was a little uneasy about the price of CBD and the stigma from cannabis, but the reception has been incredible. I have to keep reordering the beans,” he said.
A Daily Cup of ‘Saving Grace’
It’s no surprise that CBD was warmly embraced at Wonder. The coffee shop and café in downtown Boulder – also opening soon at Denver’s Broadway Market – serves everything from organic cold-pressed juice and nut milk to ghee-topped coffee.
Wonder was a pioneer in adding CBD to the menu as soon as hemp was legalized.
“We use local, organic, full spectrum hemp CBD oil. Full spectrum uses the whole plant and includes all the other cannabinoids except THC, so users get the entourage effect,” said Josanne Skulski, assistant manager and in-house nutritionist. She is especially impressed with the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD which fit in well on the menu.
For instance, Wonder’s Golden Cup including ginger tea, orange, grapefruit, lemon, pressed fresh turmeric and ginger, cayenne and black pepper oil is already a naturally anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Adding a single (10 mg) or double (20 mg) CBD shot only amplifies the effect.
Wonder has some CBD regulars who come in at the same time every day, Skulski said.
“We have a customer who always gets a butter coffee with CBD. He had a traumatic brain injury and has been on heavy pain meds in the past. He says that CBD is the most effective thing he has found for his head pain. Another customer likes a golden latte with CBD for his anxiety. He calls it ‘my saving grace,’” she said.
Skulski gets a lot of feedback, too. “The most common criticism I get about CBD is ‘I tried it and I didn’t feel anything.’ It’s not like THC where you feel the effects immediately. CBD is part of a wellness approach, like a supplement or herb that you take regularly,” she said.
It also takes some time and tweaking to figure out what works. “The dosage is different with each person. For some injuries, it may need 100 mg. or more per day. Some people also use topical CBD cream on the affected spot,” Skulski said.
Skulski said that scientific research now finally being done will likely confirm many other potential health benefits from hemp cannabinoids.
Mixing a Melt-into-the-Couch Martini
As the resident mixologist at River & Woods, Chef Daniel Asher’s cozy downtown Boulder eatery, Ian Mitchell has added CBD to his arsenal of cocktail and mocktail ingredients.
“At first we asked: ‘Can we do this? It’s illegal to sell anything with THC so we made sure the oil we use is tested,” Mitchell said. He uses Kannaway Pure Gold Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil in beverages and an occasional appetizer like oysters on the half shell with CBD. The oil adds a light “herbaceous” hint.
The mixologist’s latest creation is the interactive River in the Woods. The cocktail includes Woods Barrel Rested Gin, On Point Amaretto Liqueur and Colorado-made Dram Evergreen Pine Needle Syrup. The surface features a Green Chartreuse float, 5 mg of CBD, a sage leaf and a blood orange peel set ablaze.
“CBD is mildly relaxing. I describe it as – you know when you come home from work and melt into the couch? That’s what CBD feels like,” Mitchell said.
The River & Woods menu offers CBD added to any beverage. “I had an elderly woman who was here with her family. She wanted CBD in her water. ‘Is this going to make me high?’ she asked. Her kids and grandkids told her ‘No!’ She really loved it and being able to connect with them,” Mitchell said.
“It’s appealing because it’s not alcohol, it’s a healthy ingredient and a little daring,” Mitchell said. Besides, nobody is going to get cut off after consuming too many CBD sodas.
After sipping a CBD cocktail, customers may detect a little hemp oil on their lips. They should spread it around and think of it as a sort of CBD Chapstick.
Where to sample CBD food and drink
Blue Sparrow Coffee (Denver): CBD Nitro Cold Brew on tap. bluesparrowcoffee.com
The Cereal Box (Arvada): Taste-free powdered CBD isolate added to bowls of breakfast cereal, and in coffee drinks and milkshakes.
Dad and Dude’s Breweria (Aurora): George Washington’s Secret Stash IPA with hemp CBD extract.
Drip Denver: Strava CBD Coffee: Focus (30 mg) and Restore (120 mg). dripdenver.com
Glazed & Confuzed (Aurora/Denver): CBD with doughnut glaze. gcdonuts.com
Habit Doughnut Dispensary and Carbon Cafe (Denver): Carbon Café has CBD cold brew and kombucha on tap and CBD-infused coconut water and bitters to add to drinks. Next door, Habit Doughnut Dispensary dishes CBD-glazed doughnuts. A second Carbon Habit location recently opened. habitcarbon.com
Precision Pours (Louisville): CBD-infused coffee and hot milk drinks, and CBD-glazed brioche buns.
River & Woods (Boulder): CBD available in cocktails, mocktails and other beverages and, sometimes even on oysters. riverandwoodsboulder.com
Twisted Smoothie (Wheat Ridge): 15 or 30 mg CBD can be added to drinks including Paleo Smoothie with sweet potato, coconut milk and cinnamon. twistedsmoothie.com
Union Lodge No. 1, (Denver): CBD-infused artisan cocktails. unionlodge1.com
Wonder (Boulder/Denver): CBD in coffee, teas, juices. wonderpress.co
John Lehndorff writes the Nibbles column for the Boulder Weekly and hosts Radio Nibbles on KGNU.