Originally published on Food & Beverage Insider.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill passed, legalizing cannabinoids derived from hemp, CBD has taken the food and beverage industry by storm. It has shown up in sparkling water, seltzer, gummies, chocolate bars and more. Naturally, adding CBD to coffee and tea-based beverages containing caffeine is the next big thing.
This is a prime yet time-sensitive market opportunity for beverage producers, as studies have shown that mixing CBD with caffeine can render a favorable outcome for consumers of these popular beverages. Incorporating CBD into your coffee and tea-based product offerings could be a lucrative move.
The origins of CBD
Although the commercialization of CBD has skyrocketed in recent years, the botanical’s origins date back centuries. Some say that hemp was the earliest plant cultivated for textile fibers, possibly as long ago as 8000 BC (1). CBD itself was first discovered in 1940 by Roger Adams but not completely elucidated until 1963 (2). Harvested from the flowers of the hemp plant, CBD is one of 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants and accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract.
There are three main types of CBD are full spectrum, broad spectrum and CBD isolate. Full spectrum contains all cannabinoids naturally found in the cannabis plant, including THC. Legally, full-spectrum hemp products cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. Broad-spectrum contains multiple cannabinoids naturally found in the cannabis plant, without any THC, meaning it is nonpsychoactive (no danger of getting high). Isolate contains only CBD, no other cannabinoids. Regardless of which type of CBD producers choose, the most common form that appears in beverage products is CBD oil.
The benefits of CBD
Various claims about the benefits of CBD are circulating the internet, so it’s imperative to look at what the science says. Numerous pieces of evidence indicate that CBD may act as a positive compound to help manage several health conditions, such as psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders (3). In a 2018 review of studies, CBD was shown to have antidepressant, anxiolytic, antipsychotic and neuroprotective properties (4). According to a 2016 clinical study, CBD oil was shown as an effective alternative to pharmaceutical medications when it came to decreasing anxiety and sleep issues (5). A 2020 peer-reviewed article stated that CBD could potentially help with rheumatic diseases, but the support to date is preclinical (6).
One of the most interesting discoveries came from a 2014 Current Neuropharmacology article: “Several groups have investigated the pharmacological properties of CBD with significant findings; furthermore, this compound has raised promising pharmacological properties as a wake-inducing drug” (3). It is also important to note that some evidence suggests the effects of CBD may be cumulative rather than immediate, especially concerning factors like inflammation.
Combining CBD with caffeine
So how do CBD and the caffeine in coffee and tea work synergistically? The most popular stimulant globally, caffeine is proven to increase alertness, reduce fatigue and improve performance on vigilance tasks (7). Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, while CBD sedates the CNS. For beverage producers, the good news is research suggests caffeine and CBD may have complementary metabolic effects.
In 2018, the Journal of Internal Medicine published a study that revealed coffee enriched metabolites in five pathways, one being the endocannabinoid pathway with which CBD predominantly interacts (8). Another study found that CBD oil interacts with the neurotransmitter adenosine, which primarily controls mental alertness (9). The more adenosine that builds up, the more tired a person feels. Caffeine prevents adenosine from doing its job by attaching to the receptor itself, keeping people awake when they would otherwise feel tired (9). CBD’s interaction with adenosine is more complex, as it is considered a modulator of adenosine. This means CBD oil appears to work by improving the efficiency of the adenosine receptors directly (9, 10). Specifically, CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties are partially attributable to its inhibition of adenosine reuptake. By delaying the reuptake of this neurotransmitter, CBD boosts adenosine levels in the brain, which regulates adenosine receptor activity.
Another study found CBD reduced heart arrhythmias by enhancing adenosine signaling at the A1 receptor site (11). This may explain how CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect through A1 receptors can reduce jitters and calm rapid or irregular heartbeats caused by excessive caffeine intake (11). In summation, caffeine weakens adenosine and CBD strengthens it, so they help to balance out each other.
The wonder of CBD in coffee and tea
Essentially, CBD coffee and CBD tea can provide energy without the jitters, especially for those sensitive to caffeine, because the CBD neutralizes the adverse side effects of drinking caffeinated beverages. Even for those who don’t drink caffeine, sipping decaf coffee and tea infused with CBD is still an accessible way to reap the benefits of CBD while masking its flavor with a tastier one.
Coffee and tea already individually possess different health benefits due to their bioactive ingredients. Some of the significant bioactivities in coffee are antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic (12). Tea contains polyphenols, which the book Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects stated have been reported to possess antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory activities (13). Plus, coffee can be roasted to varying degrees—light to dark—and tea comes in a variety of types including green, black, oolong and pu-erh (14). Since over 75% of Americans drink coffee and over 159 million Americans drink tea daily, this is a prime opportunity for new CBD-infused beverage products to debut on the market (13).
Food and beverage industry opportunity
Science has not yet provided conclusive evidence that CBD can fully address any condition, although anecdotal evidence is mounting. The reality of neurological chemistry as it pertains to mixing CBD with coffee and tea is complex. Potential customers are out there adding their own CBD oil to their morning coffee and evening tea, so this is a chance for formulators in the food and beverage industry to be at the forefront of this phenomenon, with the potential rewards of increased customer satisfaction and financial gain on the line.
Potential customers will likely consider the quality of the ingredients, origins of the beans or tea leaves, overall taste, pricing and customer service when deciding what brand of CBD-infused beverage to purchase.
- Lash, R. (2002). Industrial Hemp: The Crop for the Seventh Generation. American Indian Law Review, 27(1), 313–356. https://doi.org/10.2307/20070692
- Burstein, S. (2015). Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: A review of their effects on inflammation. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, 23(7), 1377–1385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059
- Murillo-Rodríguez, E., Sarro-Ramírez, A., Sánchez, D., Mijangos-Moreno, S., Tejeda-Padrón, A., Poot-Aké, A., Guzmán, K., Pacheco-Pantoja, E., & Arias-Carrión, O. (2014). Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent. Current Neuropharmacology, 12(3), 269–272. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X11666131204235805
- Crippa, J. A., Guimarães, F. S., Campos, A. C., & Zuardi, A. W. (2018). Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age. Frontiers in Immunology, 9, 2009. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.02009
- Shannon, S., & Opila-Lehman, J. (2016). Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. The Permanente Journal, 20(4), 16–005. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/16-005
- Fitzcharles MA et al. “A cautious hope for cannabidiol (CBD) in rheumatology care.” Arthritis Care Research. (2020). Retrieved August 31, 2021, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/acr.24176
- Smith, A. (2002). Effects of caffeine on human behavior. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40(9), 1243–1255. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-6915(02)00096-0
- Cornelis, M. C., Erlund, I., Michelotti, G. A., Herder, C., Westerhuis, J. A., & Tuomilehto, J. (2018). Metabolomic response to coffee consumption: Application to a three-stage clinical trial. Journal of Internal Medicine, 283(6), 544–557. https://doi.org/10.1111/joim.12737
- Costenla, A. R., Cunha, R. A., & de Mendonça, A. (2010). Caffeine, adenosine receptors, and synaptic plasticity. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: JAD, 20 Suppl 1, S25-34. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2010-091384
- Liou, G. I., Auchampach, J. A., Hillard, C. J., Zhu, G., Yousufzai, B., Mian, S., Khan, S., & Khalifa, Y. (2008). Mediation of Cannabidiol Anti-inflammation in the Retina by Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporter and A2A Adenosine Receptor. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 49(12), 5526–5531. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.08-2196
- Gonca, E., & Darıcı, F. (2015). The Effect of Cannabidiol on Ischemia/Reperfusion-Induced Ventricular Arrhythmias: The Role of Adenosine A1 Receptors. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 20(1), 76–83. https://doi.org/10.1177/1074248414532013
- George SE et al. “A Perception on Health Benefits of Coffee: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.” Cirt Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008;48(5): 464-486. Retrieved August 31, 2021, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390701522445
- Loftfield, E., Freedman, N. D., Dodd, K. W., Vogtmann, E., Xiao, Q., Sinha, R., & Graubard, B. I. (2016). Coffee Drinking Is Widespread in the United States, but Usual Intake Varies by Key Demographic and Lifestyle Factors123. The Journal of Nutrition, 146(9), 1762–1768. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.116.233940