- Joe Montana
A Bay Area pot startup has made it even easier to “wake and bake,” with a new marijuana-infused cold-brew coffee.
Somatik, an artisanal pot-products company founded in 2016, teamed up with boutique roaster Ritual Coffee to create the drink, which hit cannabis dispensary refrigerators in January. An eight-ounce bottle retails for $12.
“Cannabis is a lot like coffee in that … everyone has their routine. I wanted to show that you could actually build a routine around cannabis that [keeps you] functional and does help you,” says Christopher Schroeder, founder of Somatik.
Somatik Featuring Ritual Coffee uses coffee beans grown in western Colombia – steeped for 12 hours in cold water to produce a robust, silky concentrate – and 15 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. Drinking the whole bottle would be the (very) rough equivalent of taking a few hits off a joint.
The Bay Area has long been a breeding ground for innovative coffee roasters, from venture-capital darling Blue Bottle Coffee to family-run Philz Coffee. More recently, another industry the area is famous for – marijuana – has moved towards artisanal products as the market matures. Entrepreneurs like Schroeder are optimistic that craft weed will become the new specialty coffee – a lucrative business.
Somatik Featuring Ritual Coffee pairs the two trends in a product that aims to be high-quality and discreet. Schroeder, a former product manager at wearables company Jawbone, wanted to create something his family and friends would find approachable.
“You could have it at your desk and no one’s going to be like, ‘Oh, what are you doing?’ But also, you could talk about it and it does help normalize it. You’re not smoking a joint or ripping a dab. You’re just drinking something that tastes really good,” Schroeder says.
- John Locher/AP
He also hopes Somatik helps entrepreneurs like him rein in their anxiety.
“Living in San Francisco and being in Startupland, there is a lot of stress, a lot of long hours, and a lot of things to be serious about,” Schroeder says. “Cannabis helps me to lighten up, and I wanted to convey that in the brand.”
In partnership with Eileen Rinaldi (founder of Ritual Coffee) and her team, Schroeder tasted 40 test batches before landing on the winning formula. He says the drink has subtle notes of cherry, bright lemon, and chocolate. “Nine out of 10 people” don’t taste the cannabis, in part because the manufacturer deliberately strips the plant of its terpenes, or fragrant oils, during processing, according to Schroeder.
The coffee drink is currently available in six dispensaries in the Bay Area.
Californians voted in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use last November. The adult-use market is expected to roll out in 2018, though cannabis cafés and other public consumption areas will likely be further out.
Schroeder hopes to someday see his brew on shelves in cafés like Ritual Coffee. “My dream is to be on tap,” he says.