Waiting for the CBD to hit is the new waiting for [insert any drug here] to hit. Is it working? Are you relaxed? Has all all your pain spilled out of your body and evaporated off the floor? Do you feel like a wellness blogger yet? CBD is the wild west and all sorts of companies are out there panning for gold. While the unregulated industry is seeping into every possible nook and cranny (just give it a google, you can buy anything with CBD in it), one of the more popular (or buzzier) ways to consume the THC-less cannabinoid is in coffee.
Which doesn’t entirely make sense. CBD proponents claim it can ease anxiety, cease nausea, help with inflammation and even treat epilepsy. It’s supposed to chill you out, calm you down and ease your pain, so why would you put it in a beverage made to rev you up? Shouldn’t they cancel each other out?
According to CBD spiked advocates, no. A CBD coffee highball is supposed to give you the best of both worlds; the energy of coffee without the jitters and anxiety. According to the Internet, you really can have it all. (Unless your state has decided to crackdown on CBD, in which case, you’re not allowed to have anything ever.)
But if you’re going to change your caffeine game and become a CBD coffee consumer, who deserves your time? Your money? Your Instagram posts? Unlike some cities, D.C.’s CBD options are fairly limited, but we went to (what we believe) are the three closest CBD-offering coffee shops in the DMV and tried their goods. Some were bad, some were good and some made us really have to pee, but they’re all a train ride away.
Gregory’s Coffee ($6)
If you live in the District, Gregory’s is probably your most convenient option. With three locations located within three blocks of each other (I’m never going to understand this real estate strategy and I don’t think I want to), they’re certainly making it easy for you to get your CBD fix before you roll into the office (or during your lunch break). CBD oil can be added to any of the drinks at Gregory’s, but when I walked over, I only had eyes for the #CBD, their infused latte. Made with oat milk and strawberry syrup, it’s supposed to taste “like a gummy bear,” according to Gregory himself.
I can’t say it tasted like candy, but it was certainly the prettiest of the CBD drinks I tried. The strawberry syrup gave the coffee a subtle pink color that was impossible to capture with my phone camera, but made me feel special. I wish I could say the same thing about the taste. The drink wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be, but the sugary strawberry flavor wasn’t subtle. The first sip was fun. The second sip was fine. By the third sip, I was sick of the flavor, the latte art had started to dissipate and what looked like a pinkish oil stain had settled on the top of my drink.
Since this was my first brush with CBD coffee, I had no idea what to expect. Coffee usually fucks me up. It makes me nauseous, jittery and gives me a full dose of anxiety. At most, I drink coffee once, maybe twice a year. I pitched this story because I wanted to see if the Internet was onto something. Could this be the cure for my coffee woes?
While I wouldn’t get the #CBD latte again (who really wants to drink a liquified gummy bear?), the answer is… maybe? In general, the latte made me less of a mess than most coffee, which was especially impressive considering I drank it on an empty stomach. It also might have eased some of the jaw pain I was feeling that day, but I’m hesitant to say that was because of the CBD. After all, bodies are weird and placebos are real.
Located in the weirdest suburb of D.C. (Silver Spring, obviously), Moorenko’s was my second CBD destination. The ice cream parlor made local and national headlines when they decided to start selling Flower Power’s CBD coffee last year, but despite the attention, Moorenko’s was pretty dead. In fact, most of “downtown” Silver Spring was eerily empty, but I didn’t let that deter me. I was on a schedule. In a serious case of bad timing, I only had 15 minutes free to order the coffee, drink the coffee and power walk to the closest movie theater so I could catch a preview screening of Happy Death Day 2U.
Luckily, Moorenko’s keeps it pretty simple and in a few moments I had a tall cup of CBD coffee… which I chugged like a frat brother who was knee deep into initiation as I half ran to the movies. Moorenko’s coffee didn’t have any of the Instagram comforts of Gregory’s. Without the strawberry syrup and the oat milk and the latte art, would I feel as chill? As calm? Would I feel like a part of the #CannabisCommunity?
Due to the fact that I probably didn’t pour enough milk in my coffee and I drank all of it at 7 p.m., I didn’t have quite the mellow experience that Gregory’s gave me. By the time the movie was over, the coffee jitters had hit, although they were less intense than usual and didn’t really stop me from sleeping. It probably didn’t help that I had to wake up earlier than normal the next day to get some work done, so who knows if it was the coffee. Maybe it was my regular brand of anxiety! It also made me want to pee a lot. I had to go before the movie, during the movie and after the movie. Happy Death Day 2U is not a long film, but I was still squirming in my seat, waiting for the right time to run out without missing any time travel shenanigans.
Either way, Moorenko’s was definitely a better tasting experience than Gregory’s, plus they have ice cream. And board games. And a lot of martial arts class flyers. And CBD hot chocolate, which I would absolutely get instead of coffee. This should have been a hot chocolate taste test. I’m an idiot.
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Bon Vivant Cafe ($6)
When I first started doing research for this mini taste test, Bon Vivant wasn’t on my radar. I don’t know if it was a SEO problem or an algorithm problem, but it didn’t come up on any of my initial searches. Originally, I planned to trek out to District Hemp in Manassas and buy some of their Pot-O-Coffee hemp blend (which I had discovered thanks to the Gentleman Toker), but that was an hour car ride. Or a three hour bus-train-bus extravaganza. After doing some panicked Googling the day before this story was due and reading a lot of local press, I was delighted to discover that 1. Bon Vivant had CBD. 2. They would add it to any beverage and 3. They were a train ride away (or a 30 minute drive if I was feeling bougie). These facts calmed me more than any shot of CBD.
Soon enough, I was staring at their large drink board, deciding whether I should go for a simple drip coffee or lean into one of their specialties. I decided to get a mocha because I was still deeply regretting not making this a CBD hot chocolate taste test. And because I’m secretly 13 inside. The barista recommended I add a shot of vanilla and I said yes because I am very easy to upsell. The mocha was delicious, and as I settled into my copy of Dune, I felt like I was finally going to understand the hype. What could be more relaxing than spending a Sunday evening reading about giant space worms and drinking CBD coffee in a warmly lit cafe?
And then I remembered where I had parked. In my rush to get to Alexandria and finish this whole experiment, I had picked the nearest spot and hadn’t read a single street sign. My mind was filled with images of my boyfriend’s car getting plastered with parking tickets, or worse, getting towed. So I downed the rest of the cup (which was truly delicious, the vanilla shot was a good call) and booked it out of there before I could cash in on my free refill.
As with the other cups, nothing about the coffee changed my life. It was like drinking a weaker version of real coffee. I felt a little extra energized and I stayed up a little later than usual. I didn’t feel any calmer, but I did get more work done than usual. Also, I got to watch the barista do the moonwalk as he cleaned off empty tables. That was my favorite part.
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Maybe my life isn’t conducive to CBD. Maybe CBD is bullshit. Maybe nothing is real and everything is marketing. I don’t know. What I do know is that, for me, CBD coffee wasn’t the mind altering, life affirming experience I thought it would be. At best it’s fine and at worst it’s also fine. Which is fine.