The truth about CBD coffee

CBD has sprung up like a weed in the marketplace over the last year or so. It's in oils, lotions, food, alcohol, and yes, even coffee. According to CNBC, coffee shops' inclusion of CBD is a sign that it's officially gone mainstream and the billion-dollar industry is only getting bigger. It may not be at Starbucks just yet, but it's very possible that there's a coffee shop offering it not too far from where you live. 

What's the deal with this unicorn coffee? It's getting a lot of buzz, but what are the benefits? CBD's big claim is that it helps with relaxation, but coffee has caffeine in it, which seems pretty counterproductive to relaxation. 

How is CBD coffee made?

CBD coffee is really just coffee infused with CBD oil. How that oil finds its way into your cup of coffee can vary though. At Espresso Bay coffee shop in Traverse City, Michigan, owner Dan Guy makes a CBD espresso by simply adding a little bit of the unflavored oil to the drink — that's it. "Since we started, a quarter to a third of our customers [have upgraded to] CBD drinks," Guy told Cooking Light.

Some coffee roasters start with the beans themselves, and skip adding the oil to the finished drink. Flower Power Coffee Company, for example, told Bon Appétit that they coat the ground coffee beans in CBD oil before they're brewed. Unlike adding the oil directly to the drink, coating the beans in it doesn't provide any consistent measurement of CBD per cup, however.

What are the benefits of CBD coffee?

Are there really any benefits of CBD coffee? The combination of an ingredient that's meant to help people relax combined with caffeine might seem odd, but fans of the drink say it actually takes away those caffeine jitters. Caffeine blocks a central nervous system sedative called adenosine that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Neuroscientist Leigh Winters told Well+Good that CBD also reduces the brain's "ability to 're-uptake' adenosine" which may be why those coffee jitters go away. 

It's important to note that this is only a theory scientists have, and as Winters points out, "Our brain's pathways are never really all that straightforward." Still, lots of people are trying it and many say they feel positive effects. Healthline writer Melissa Malamut tried it for a week and said she didn't get the "heart palpitations and shaky hands" that caffeine can give her, but overall, it's not something that would replace her regular cup of joe.