Is CBD Coffee a Combo Worth Trying?

CBD may relax you, while coffee's caffeine energizes. Here's what experts think about trendy CBD coffee that combines the two.

Blending CBD and coffee

Many people rely on a morning cup of java to wake up. Those same individuals might use cannabidiol (CBD) products with the goal of sleeping better or soothing inflammation.

Now some people are marrying the two daily rituals by blending CBD and coffee.

Before you determine whether CBD coffee is right for you, know the basics of CBD. It’s one of many components found in the cannabis plant. Yep, the plant best known for marijuana. Unlike weed’s more-famous chemical (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC), CBD won’t get you high, provided it’s not mixed with substantial levels of THC.

In the United States, most CBD comes from the hemp plant, a relative of the cannabis plan that has little to no THC. (Here’s the difference in CBC vs. THC.)

What is CBD coffee?

CBD coffee is exactly what it sounds like: coffee with cannabidiol (CBD) in it.

Whether sold at your favorite café as a latte or as a bag of coffee grounds, it is “a traditional coffee beverage with CBD either infused or added,” according to Ryan Greene, DO, an osteopathic doctor and medical director of the Monarch Athletic Club in West Hollywood, California.

As people turn to CBD for natural pain relief and relaxation, manufacturers have concocted a vast array of CBD-infused edibles and drinks to meet demand.

By 2023, the market for CBD-infused beverages is expected to have multiplied to 16 times its 2016 size, according to a 2020 report by the market-research company Statista.

“I think coffee represents routine and comfort for many people,” says Kristina Risola, a rehabilitation counselor and board-certified medical cannabis wellness coach. “I imagine that people who want a jolt of caffeine without the jitters and anxiety may think CBD coffee could provide that experience.”

Types of CBD coffee

Like other CBD products, CBD coffee can be infused with full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate. Here’s what those terms mean:

  • Full-spectrum CBD: This CBD includes the full array of components from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa): CBD, of course, but also small traces of THC and plant compounds called terpenes.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD: This includes all components of the hemp plant except THC.
  • CBD isolate: This is the purest form, containing only CBD. If you’re worried about failing a drug test for marijuana, which tests for THC, this is your best choice.

Why people try CBD coffee

Though CBD has been heavily discussed (and marketed) in the last few years, CBD-containing products, including CBD-infused coffee, have not been heavily researched. Most benefits are anecdotal or theoretical.

“The combination of CBD and coffee can be one of balance if you take the time to figure out how many cups you need to achieve optimal results,” says Carlie Bell-Biggins, a naturopathic physician and spokesperson for LeafReport.com, a CBD resource hub. “Mixing CBD and coffee may ease the caffeine jitters, helping you to feel alert yet calm after your morning cup of joe.”

Kevin Boehnke, PhD, a research investigator at the University of Michigan Medical School’s Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, says people likely drink CBD coffee for the same reasons that they try other CBD products. He points to a 2019 Gallup report that indicates 14 percent of Americans use CBD products to address health issues including:

Cup of coffee on a wooden tableAlexander Spatari/Getty Images

CBD coffee for general wellness

If you’re interested in CBD products, CBD coffee might seem like a convenient way to test the waters. Risola says CBD coffee is approachable and easy to add to your daily routine, but that more research is necessary to know if combining the two products is truly beneficial.

According to Dr. Greene, adding CBD to coffee is unlikely to boost the health benefits of either ingredient any more than if you consumed them separately.

CBD coffee for anxiety or relaxation

You might assume that CBD coffee is the perfect jitter-free caffeine hit, but Risola cautions against jumping to this conclusion. She says that CBD can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to kick in, while you’ll experience a caffeine jolt much sooner.

Once again, it comes down to a lack of scientific study. “These are all things that would need to be researched and looked at closer,” she says.

According to Dr. Greene, the caffeine in coffee could offset the relaxation you’re hoping to experience. He says caffeine can increase anxiety-like feelings in some people.

Our CBD and medical experts agreed that if you’re hoping to combat anxiety with CBD, a tincture or pure CBD product will probably be just as effective—if not more beneficial—than CBD-infused coffee.

Is CBD coffee safe?

Unfortunately, CBD products are not well-regulated, according to Boehnke. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t inspect CBD products to make sure you’re getting what’s on the label. This makes it hard to know if your CBD product contains the amount of CBD promised, if it’s safe, or—Boehnke points out—if a product labeled “CBD coffee” has CBD in it at all.

In fact, in a 2017 study published in JAMA, researchers found that only 30 percent of 84 tested CBD products were labeled accurately.

“Further, CBD products may contain contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, or solvents from sloppy growing or processing practices,” Boehnke says. “We also don’t know much about potential interactions between CBD, caffeine, or other ingredients in coffee.”

Bell-Biggins also warns that people with caffeine sensitivity should avoid CBD coffee. She says individuals using CBD to treat specific conditions should also use a more precise dosage method than coffee infusion.

Is it legal to buy CBD coffee?

Determining whether a CBD product is legal can be complicated. The answer varies depending on where you live and the CBD product you’re using.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 30 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have legalized medical marijuana, which contains CBD. However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration still considers marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that it’s illegal.

If your CBD product comes from hemp, it’s regulated differently. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the federal government doesn’t consider hemp products (including CBD) controlled substances, provided they have no more than 0.03 percent THC.

The bottom line? Hemp-based CBD coffee with less than 0.03 percent THC is legal across the country but can still be restricted at the state level.

Is CBD coffee worth the money?

A CBD latte is likely to be considerably more expensive than an average cup of joe. And Boehnke says that might not be worth it in the end.

A “shot” of CBD can add a few dollars or more to a beverage depending on how many drops of CBD are added and where the café is located.

Since CBD tends to degrade when exposed to heat, it’s possible that adding it to hot coffee erases possible benefits, according to Dr. Greene. “I would personally have a patient try a CBD regiment separately from something as potent as coffee to determine if CBD provides any benefit,” he says.

Even Risola, a medical cannabis professional, is skeptical. “[I] think for most, CBD coffee is just a fad and a way to capitalize on the CBD craze,” she says. “Putting CBD in coffee just isn’t a reliable or consistent way to take CBD and get proper doses,” she says.

How to choose the best CBD coffee for you

If you’re interested in waking up with a cup of CBD coffee tomorrow morning, it’s best to contact your doctor to ensure that the product and dose will not interfere with any current medications or underlying conditions. You might also consider starting with a broad-spectrum CBD coffee rather than full-spectrum one.

You’re likely to lower your risks by following these tips.

  • Only sip CBD coffee products that come with a certificate of analysis (COA). “Reading the COA for the CBD coffee will help to ensure you have a safe product to try. The report will tell you the amount of each cannabinoid present in the coffee and if there are any pesticides, microbes, or solvents present in the testing sample,” Bell-Biggins says.
  • Be skeptical of CBD coffees that claim to treat specific conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or even pain.
  • Choose CBD coffees from companies with clear contact information in case you have questions.

The bottom line

CBD coffee is simply a blend of CBD and coffee. Some people drink it because they believe the CBD will help offset caffeine-related jitters, but there is no current research to back up this claim.

Our medical and cannabinoid experts recommend against using CBD coffee to treat specific health conditions. Those interested in using CBD for wellness purposes are better off using a purer CBD product that has a specific dosage.

Sources

Leandra Beabout
Leandra is an Indiana-based freelance journalist and content writer with a background in education. She has written for a variety of publications, including CNN, Lonely Planet, Greatist, and Fodor's Travel.