Meet Quino Baca: Head of the Kitchen Crew Behind Azuca

Chef turned cannabis culinarian, Joaquin (Quino) Baca is one of the key creative forces behind Azuca.

A member of the Azuca team since the very beginning, Quino has helped build out a product line of pioneering cannabis edibles that not only taste amazing, but also set an industry standard for what it means to provide consumers with a trustworthy, consistent and reliable cannabis product.

Quino’s resume touts headlining names like Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ko and Ssäm Bar, which he opened up with food industry mogul and former business partner David Chang before venturing off on his own to open up Brooklyn Star in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Southwestern-meets-New-American style restaurant was a local gem and married Quino’s New York-based ambitions with his penchant for the smoky, Southwestern flavors he grew to love while living with cattle-ranching relatives in Texas. His latest restaurant, Teo, is set to open later this year.

Curious to hear chef Quino’s perspective on his new role with Azuca? We were, too.

In a recent Q&A session, Quino shared his thoughts on helming the kitchen crew of Azuca, his favorite product, and what he’s up to when he’s not in production mode (spoiler alert: chefs are always on the clock). Read on to see what he said.

How have your skills as a chef transferred to your role at Azuca?

Production and R&D are two major parts of my role at Azuca. The production part is second-nature to me. Logistics, organization – those are integral aspects of running a restaurant kitchen, and that’s what I do for a living. On the R&D side, my chef skills and experience come into play by way of problem-solving and ideas for inspiration. What I’m doing at Azuca is still ‘chef work,’ just on a slightly different scale with a slightly different medium.

What has surprised you the most about the process of producing a cannabis edibles line?

What’s most surprising about this whole process is being in a field that’s in such a nascent stage. There’s nothing to go on – no recipe book, very few pre-existing guidelines. It’s all super fascinating, but also a huge challenge because we have to come up with answers to problems that haven’t been solved.

Has that been the biggest challenge then – the fact that the edibles world is, for the most part, uncharted territory?

That’s definitely been one of the major challenges. Having to start from scratch is tough in and of itself, and with so few guidelines and regulations, the learning curve is steep. Other challenges we’ve faced so far have been related to the science and technology that’s involved with making such a precise, fast-acting and reliable product.

As chefs, we know how to make dishes and their component parts, but we’re used to taking tastes here and there, and figuring out what’s missing. When we do this, the end product is undoubtedly delicious, but there’s also a slight variance from dish to dish. We don’t do that with Azuca products, this is not that kind of environment. Scientific exactitude is of the utmost importance here, so we’re always sure to be hyper-organized and exact in everything we do.

What have been the successes?

Being that the edibles world is one without a lot of guidelines, trial and error has played a big role in getting us to where we are today. A lot of our successes have come about as a result of accidents and mistakes because they allow us the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and see where we went wrong. We’re constantly learning better and more efficient techniques, improving our products and dreaming up new ideas so that Azuca remains an innovative and exciting – while also reliable and trustworthy – product for our customers.

How did you become involved with Azuca?

I’ve known Ron [Silver; Azuca founder] since 2004, when I opened up Momofuku in the East Village. Ron and his family quickly became super regular customers at the restaurant and, since the initial design of Momofuku consisted of a small open kitchen, we got to know each other pretty well.

Ron and I have a lot in common since we’re both restaurant owners, and over the years we’ve had multiple talks about partnering up on a new venture – the problem was that the timing was never right. This time around with Azuca, the stars aligned. I’m in the middle of closing one restaurant and opening another [Teo], so when Ron came to me needing another set of hands, I thought, how can I resist?

What’s your favorite product from the line?

Pâte de fruits. A cool, old-school classic.

Where do you see Azuca in five years?

In five years, Azuca will be an industry gold standard. As a company, we are dedicated to removing the intimidation factor from edibles and providing people with a variety of products that allow them to customize their experience to their liking.

Sure, some people like to see brightly colored, Willy Wonka-inspired candies on the shelves, but we’re a product line, not a candy company and the reality is that a large number of people consuming edibles have little to no experience with cannabis. The friendly yet sophisticated, adult approach that we’re taking with Azuca is really important in this market and is going to be what helps solidify our reputation as one of the most trusted names in cannabis.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

As a restaurant chef, I’m always working. I also do carpentry, so right now I’m putting finishing touches on my new restaurant, Teo, before it opens later this year. Outside of all that, I love spending time with my son, Mateo – whose name inspired Teo – and I have hobbies like cycling, but my true passion is restaurants.


Bubby’s Hosts Ume Tasting with CBD Infused Products

The beloved restaurant Bubby’s and owner Ron Silver earlier this month hosted a special launch tasting to introduce Wakayama Ume to New York City.

The stateside debut of one of Japan’s rarest plums highlighted a food demo that will soon be available in November at the Tribeca location.

Esteemed for its ability to aid in fatigue recovery and purify the body, the Wakayama Ume boasts a distinctively sour flavor that has solidified a place in the hearts and on the menus of Japan’s top chefs.

Health benefits of the fruit were discussed as guests enjoyed plates featuring Ume syrup on Bubby’s pancakes and in the whipped cream of a warm cobbler.

Guests discovered several health benefits of the fruit, as well as experienced the restaurants special CBD-infused servings. Soon for all of New York City to enjoy and to find a new form for ideal health will be such selections as Ume Mimosas, and Azuca CBD infused Ume Soda.

Be sure to check out the location and here for more details.


12 Incredible Moments From The 2018 New York Coffee Festival

It’s really something to witness Chelsea’s distinguished Metropolitan Pavillion transform into a patchwork quilt of New York City’s finest coffee companies. This is our fourth year as media partners of the New York Coffee Festival, a younger sibling of the game-changing London Coffee Festival, which by all counts is one of the largest attended consumer-facing coffee events in the world. What surprises us most about the festival is its ability to keep surprising us—booths seem to up the ante each year with attention-grabbing and crowd-pleasing design and programming. It’s a thoughtful blend of experimental exhibitions, unexpected vendors, and tried-and-true events-within-events.

Here’s a collection of some of our favorite moments and details from the 2018 New York Coffee Festival.

T-Shirt Canons & Booth Design

For a moment on Saturday, La Marzocco USA and Variety Coffee Roasters—two prominently featured exhibitors at the event—took part in a heated t-shirt canon battle royale. Perhaps the first of its kind at a coffee tradeshow, the companies, each armed with compressors and canons, shot t-shirts to the crowd (and, reports suggest, each other). Projectiles aside, La Marzocco’s booth at the festival drew oohs and ahs all weekend long, featuring a vintage sports scoreboard theme and a live “shot counter”—each guest was invited to pull a shot of espresso, then entered to win a La Marzocco Linea Mini.

Vendors Large and Small

Roxanne Royce, the inventor of the BevBag (pictured left), exhibits with her mother at the New York Coffee Festival. The insulated bag holds four coffees in a reusable 3D-printed carrier. Royce invented the bag after experiencing the pitfalls of delivering coffees—namely the spills and the heat loss. The bag, Royce tells us, sells big with corporate clients and with folks on Amazon, where it holds a strong four-star rating. And while the fashion hits did not stop all weekend long, Mother Royce’s lewk was one of the very best at New York Coffee Festival.

Chai Marshmallows

There’s no shortage of snackables at the New York Coffee Festival, but our personal favorite was the chai-infused marshmallows on hand at the Dona Chai booth. Paired with their herbal ciders and chai-spiked hot cocoas, these lovely treats were like little cozy hugs in marshmallow form.

Pyschic Energy

Spiritual guide Angelina—practicing Palm, Tarot Card, and Crystal Readings in New York City for over 20 years—offered special readings for attendees all weekend long. “There’s a great energy here,” we were told by one of the many on hand at the booth. It’s great to see folks like Angelina at coffee festivals, and there was plenty of interest from attendees. Maybe we’ll see Angelina and their crew at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston?

Living Booths

The plant story was strong at the Sey Coffee booth over the weekend. Marco SP9s serving delightful coffees by co-owner Tobin Polk were practically hiding behind a wall of plant-life. Prominently placed at the entry to the show floor, and beautiful in its simplicity, this was a strong showing from the Bushwick based brand.

CBD Everything

We have entered (or perhaps about to enter) peak the age of cannabidiol-in-everything. Azuca, a New York-based company specializing in sweeteners infused with CBD and THC, are marketing the legal non-psychoactive CBD products to cocktail bars and coffee companies alike. We’re watching this space as we continue to see CBD show up as an upcharge on upscale cafe menus across the country.

Virtual Reality

Project Waterfall, a non-profit started by the festival’s founders, is a project aimed at providing clean drinking water to coffee-growing communities. The initiative is present at each festival, and this year guests were invited to put on VR-goggles and go on a virtual reality thrill-ride.

High Art

This piece of art, on display at the Coffee Festival’s Coffee Art Project competition, sold on the first day for what we believe was around $800.

Coffee Jewelry

While London Coffee Festival is paced by no-one when it comes to fashion-forward vendors (almost an entire floor is dedicated to attire and accessories), the NY Coffee Festival is catching up. That’s thanks to the help of jewerly-maker Anna Steinerová and her line of coffee-themed accessories Kaawa. Based in the Czech Republic, Kaawa has been specializing in coffee jewelry since 2013. These beautiful designs turned heads all weekend long.

Robots

The robots are still coming—and the pour-over robot du jour comes to the festival from the folks at Bubble Lab Robotics. The pour-over bot (Drip) is expected to come out in early 2019 (we were told March) and is going to retail for around $8,000. The booth also showcased an undercounter beverage delivery system (Drop) capable of supplying hot or cold beverages. A unit was positioned next to an espresso machine for cold milk delivery. This device is expected to run $3k and also expected to arrive March, 2019.


Anthropomorphic Cold Brew

Buzzy and Spesh watch out, there’s a new anthropomorphic coffee in town. Variety Coffee Roasters debuted their fun-loving cold brew mascot, followed by a boombox toting man to provide the tunes with which to dance. It was an instant hit. People love mascots.

Fashion-Forward Exhibitors

Winning all of the awards for best-dressed, Revelator Coffee roaster Cameron Heath stunned in a purple suit ensemble, expertly matching the coffee on offer at the Trade booth. Revelator teamed up with Trade, a new e-commerce company that launched in April this year.

Here are a few runner-ups:

James McCarthy and Cora Lambert of Equator Coffees & Teas deliver espresso at the La Marzocco USA Basketball Booth in fashion-forward, function-friendly uniforms inspired by vintage mechanic wear.


An old-timey carnival barker challenges guests to a game of ring toss at the Toby’s Estate Coffee booth (the rings were tossed at portafilters).

For more from the fest, please check out @newyorkcoffeefestival on Instagram, and follow @Sprudge for live looks from the weekend. Up next: we’ll see you at the Los Angeles Coffee Festival November 9th—11th.


These Entrepreneurs Were Even More Energetic Than Usual: They Were at the New York Coffee Festival!

The caffeine flowed freely, and so did conversations by dozens of coffee entrepreneurs -- who perhaps talked a tad faster than normal -- at the fourth annual New York Coffee Festival in Manhattan this past weekend.

Featured at the event were booths for espresso machines, French presses and eco-friendly coffee cups, plus free tastings of every flavor of roasted bean imaginable -- as well as “latte design” demonstrations, and even coffee bean-inspired jewelry from the Czech Republic.

There was also one especially popular booth inviting coffee aficionados to swap out the simple syrup in their morning joe for syrup infused with CBD (the cannabis compound cannabidiol) -- something that’s now legal in multiple states.

“These are the people that are genuinely obsessed by coffee,” Jeffrey Young said in an interview. He’s the Australian-born founder and CEO of London-based Allegra Group, which puts on the festival in Manhattan and next month will launch a West Coast version, in Los Angeles, starting Nov. 9.

Young glanced happily back over his shoulder at the jam-packed Metropolitan Pavilion event space (with a line outside of still more attendees waiting to get in). Based on registrations, Young said he expected a total of 12,000 to 14,000 visitors over three days. These coffee devotees had come to hobnob with about 100 vendors plus their guest vendors, who included some 200 different roasting companies, Young said.

“It’s a passion for them,” Young said of the festival-goers sipping free lattes and nibbling pastries across the Pavilion’s huge expanse, or wandering upstairs to hear coffee lectures. “Somehow they like the personality of coffee, whatever that means. It’s very personal to them.

“And it’s not just about coffee itself," he continued. "It’s about coffee spaces, about the community that coffee brings.”

And the entrepreneurs? “That room is full of entrepreneurs,” Young confirmed. “These are the young coffee entrepreneurs building their businesses, some of them growing very, very rapidly. And there’s a few big businesses in there, like Breville, [and other] coffee equipment companies. But underlying this is, it’s a very entrepreneurial marketplace.”

To underscore that point, Young described the flurry of acquisitions that has occurred in the industry this year. “JAB Holding Co., a privately held company, really set the tone for acquisitions in this market,” Young said. “You’ve seen Nestle acquire [a majority stake in] Blue Bottle Coffee this year; and, local here to New York, a business created here in New York and spreading all over the country is Bluestone Lane. They’re being invested in by Stephen Ross,” the billionaire chairman of Related Cos.

In recent years, Young added, JAB acquired Stumptown Coffee Roasters, as well as Peet’s Coffee, and took a majority stake in Pret a Manger last year. JAB further led the group of investors that acquired Keurig Green Mountain. And this year, JAB was also reported to be interested in the Italian chain Illycaffe SpA (Nestle reportedly was, too); Coca-Cola, meanwhile, invested in Costa Coffee.

“What these beverage companies have realized is that coffee is the most exciting beverage at the moment,” Young said. As a result, ”Entrepreneurs are seeing these [high] valuations out there in the marketplace; and there’s a lot of interest in investment in the small boutique coffee chains.”

A stroll through the Pavilion reflected Young’s assessment, as various entrepreneurs spoke with enthusiasm about their caffeine-fueled passion:

Azuca

In an interview, Eben Freeman, executive product development director, was bullish about his Massachusetts-based company’s CBD-infused simple syrup. “It solves most of the problems you have with CBD oils or edibles,” Freeman said of the syrup. That’s good, he explained, because, in a word, CBD’s natural flavor tastes like … cabbage.

What makes Azuca’s line of sweeteners, which will be available online this week and are already sold in some outlets (including company owner Ron Silver’s Bubby’s restaurants, in New York) special is their absence of terpenes. Terpenes are the hydrocarbons that give CBD products their bad smell.

“When you put [the product] into dilution, a cup of coffee, you really don’t taste it at all,” Freeman claimed.

CBD, for those not in the know, has been credited with helping people combat depression, anxiety and chronic pain. It lacks the cannabis ingredient THC and so produces no “high.”

Azuca’s CBD syrup is sold in bottles, whose smaller version offers four servings -- each with 10 milligrams of CBD -- priced at $18. “You can put it into your coffee in the morning, into your tea in the afternoon or your cocktail at the end of the night,” Young said.

Biohazard Coffee

Kelly Driscoll, marketing director of the two-year-old company Biohazard Coffee, frequently had to step aside at her company’s booth to allow her colleague “Patch” to pose for selfies being taken by visitors eager to be seen with him, because he was attired in a biohazard suit and mask.

The stunt was related to the company’s name, which Driscoll explained stems from the coffee’s “928 kilograms of caffeine for 12 fluid ounces. That makes it three to four times the amount of caffeine you’ll find in normal barista-made coffee,” she said.

The company prides itself on not adding anything to the raw coffee and on using “100 percent robust” beans which, Driscoll said, strips away the beans’ natural bitterness. “For me personally, I drink three or four cups of coffee a day,” Driscoll said. “So, instead of having three to four cups a day, I have one in the morning and I’m good to go.”

“In the U.S. we’re by far the strongest” coffee, Driscoll continued, while acknowledging that a competitor could beat Biohazard at its own game. “That’s the thing with highly caffeinated coffees,” she said. “Someone could always come out with something stronger.”

Breville

“My name means ‘to be calm,’ which I’m not,” declared Rachael Calmas, referring to her career as a publicist who promotes a company making espresso machines. Specifically, Calmas works for the Australian food equipment company Breville, whose U.S. headquarters, for 15 years, has been in Torrance, Calif.

The company’s focus is on kitchen machines for the home market -- such as countertop electric pizza ovens offering pies with a wood-fired taste -- as well as espresso machines for coffee-adoring Americans.

Some of those stainless steel works of art were on display at the Coffee Festival. Breville’s most recent machines, the Oracle Touch and Barista Touch (both automatic and manual), each won a “Best New Product” award at the Specialty Coffee Association Expo.

Coming out next month is Breville’s newest machine, the Bambino-Plus, a $500 mini espresso machine. It’s joining a crowded market -- one, Calmas said, that boasts machines that are beautiful “statement” pieces for your kitchen counter, as well as machines for the “smart home” category, “where you have a phone [and tell it] ‘Make my coffee before I get out of bed.’” Breville’s products are the medium between those two extremes, Calmas said.

The real key to a good espresso? Not just a fancy machine, the publicist acknowledged, but “the right texture of milk" -- and that’s not easy to get every time. “Honestly,” she added, “the highest-fat whole milk is going to give you the best quality.” Of course it's the machine's steam-wand techology that gives the proper barista-quality milk texture.

Ecoffee Cup

David McLagan, founder and CEO, explained how he founded Ecoffee Cup, an eco-cup company, back in 2014, “when we found out that over 100 billion single use cups go to landfills.”

His company is English and Dutch, and based in London and Amsterdam, but it’s establishing a U.S. foothold, in Brooklyn, N.Y., soon.

The company’s eco-cups -- which come in 100 different designs and four different sizes -- are made from a composite of bamboo fiber, cornstarch and resin. The cups offer the same durability as ceramic and also the ability to hold temperatures stable for 45 minutes. The $11.76 cups are phthalate-free.

Cafes, McLagan said, are willing to put their coffee in customers’ own eco cups; Starbucks gives a 10 cent discount.

Interestingly, Ecoffee’s website boasts the relatively new extension “eco” on its name. Companies have to apply for the honor of using that “eco” extension by providing an impact statement and environmental credentials.

At the festival overall, environmentalism was a concern voiced not only by Ecoffee Cup but by Project Water Fall, a British nonprofit whose mission is “to bring clean, safe drinking water, sanitation and education to coffee growing communities”

The Northeast Recreational Coffee Association

Latte artists -- the folks who put those cool cinnamon designs on your latte foam -- have the souls of entrepreneurs in that they’re out to push the envelope and throw their heart into their work.

The Association holds a monthly New York-based “throwdown” among baristas, and is part of a wave of such competitions nationwide, said organizer Lanny Huang.

Huang equivated latte art to “plating a dish” meaning the art upscale restaurants engage in to create a beautiful dinner plate. “Latte art is pouring a design over a latte, and the skills involved have a lot to do with texturing whole milk correctly,” he said.

“Basically, latte art has grown and specialty coffee has grown because it’s kind of a signature of elevating the coffee experience,” Huang said, pointing out the La Marzocco espresso machine behind him. As a matter of fact, that company thought enough of the Association’s efforts to sponsor its festival booth.

“You generally won’t find good coffee served without latte art on top,” Huang declared.


Wakayama Ume (Japanese Plum) Promotion Event

On Oct.10, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and The Norinchukin Bank invited the press and people in the food and restaurant industry to an event in New York promoting ume (plums) from Wakayama, Japan. This prefecture produces 60% of the ume grown in Japan and 80% of the umeboshi (salt pickled ume). During the event Ms. Emi Horiguchi of JETRO Osaka introduced the agricultural systems in Wakayama’s Minabe Town and Tanabe City, which utilize a unique bee pollination system. Mr. Todd Van Horne of Nakata Foods Co., Ltd. explained the history and characteristics of ume, which are unique in the way their acidity increases as they ripen. Finally, Chef Ron Silver of Bubby’s shared his thoughts on ume and ume products. He introduced original sweets and cocktails made by using Wakayama ume and related products, such as pancakes with ume syrup, warm ume cobbler, ume mimosa and Azuca CBD-infused ume soda.

Location: Bubby’s Tribeca
120 Hudson St., (at N. Moore St.), New York, NY 10013
www.bubbys.com


October Round Up: All Treats, No Tricks

It’s that yummy time of year. From Halloween to all the other upcoming holidays, thoughts turn to hosting and/or attending some friendly festivities. For adults planning Halloween parties in recreationally legal states there are new enchanting alternatives for elevating your celebration with cannabis-infused edibles.

Infused options should be offered separately from other party snacks, so guests are well informed on what’s being served. If the guest list is diverse, with newbies as well as experienced cannabis connoisseurs, it’s a good idea to serve only one or two low-dose options along with plenty of information. Expect a lot of questions, in that party scenario.


An important tip: NEVER serve cannabis-infused edibles without clear labeling so guests are 100 percent aware of what is being served, in regards to ingredients and dosage strength. It’s just plain wrong to take a chance that any guest would be uninformed, even mistakenly, and eat an unwanted edible–similar, perhaps, to situations where there’s an issue with food allergies. Let your network know in advance that infused edibles will be served, so they can opt out if they choose, though it’s more than likely they’ll want to bring a few friends after they find out. Also, make sure guests are of legal age in your state.

If you source your edible treats from a producer or dispensary, they can provide info on recommended, reasonable dosage limits, product testing, and other questions. If you’re an at-home treat-maker, there’s a lot of info online; again, refer to any company that you shopped for specialized kitchen equipment. For gatherings of seasoned cannabis consumers, perhaps, a very special offering of treats containing more THC for select, experienced edible epicureans.

The digestion process slows the effects of cannabis, so guests should take into consideration that it may be an hour or more before they feel effects; that said, the effects of THC-infused edibles have been described as somewhat more potent and longer-lasting than when cannabis is inhaled.

Any party attendees who feel they may have overindulged in any consumables should Uber or Lyft home, of course. Another tip, recommended by budtenders and cannabis insiders–have some CBD products on hand for anyone that may have had a little too much THC, whether from edibles or a jittery sativa strain. Dr. Joe Cohen, who is a holistic doctor of cannabis medicine and owner of Holos Health in Denver, Colorado, told Lifehacker.com, “The best reversal for the unpleasant side effects of too much THC is CBD.”

Okay, now that you’ve avoided any unwanted tricks, it’s time to have fun. Media reportshave said that former Olympic skater Tonya Harding, royals Harry and Meghan, and sharks are popular Halloween costumes this year.

When it comes to cannabis edibles, there are so many sweet ones to choose from. Here’s ten menu options for Halloween hang-outs:


The Nova Decarboxylator–Not precisely an edible, but a treat for the budding chef or at-home baker. “Decarboxylation is the process of converting cannabis into its active form, making it bioavailable for the human body. It’s a critical step for any consumption method, especially those who prefer to consume via oral, sublingual, or topical applications,” said the product website. The Nova allows you to infuse your own butters and oils at home with one-button convenience. Use those infusions in your own recipes or order a specialty kit from the makers of Nova, to create infused caramel at home. From ArdentCannabis.com.


Azuca Pate de Fruit–A classic version of Pate de Fruit candies–the colorful candy gems found displayed in any fine French candy store. Made with real fruit syrups and other natural ingredients for the freshest, most vibrant flavors. Made with pectin, not gelatin, so they’re also suitable for Vegans and vegetarians. Founded by chef Ron Silver, Azuca’s menu of high-end edibles are created with patent-pending processes that allow more rapid absorption than typical edibles, with delicious effects in 15 minutes or less. Available in Massachusetts, from Azuca.co.


Bhang’s® The Bite Chewy Chocolate Truffle–For experienced cannabis connoisseurs and vampires only, this little chocolate treat packs a big punch with 180mg THC in one ounce of dark chocolate chewiness. “A little goes a long way,” Bhang said on their website. A second place winner in the 2012 San Francisco Cannabis Cup for Best Edible, other ingredients include Turbinado sugar, milk, cocoa powder, agave syrup, vanilla, and essential oils. The Bite is available in California, but various Bhang products can also be found in Illinois, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, and Canada. At GotBhang.com.


Blue Kudu Bon Bons–This assortment includes dark chocolate bonbons filled with a creamy vanilla bean caramel, and milk chocolate bonbons filled with a smooth peanut butter filling. Made in-house, then nitrogen-flushed during packaging to ensure maximum freshness with every bite. Child-resistant packaging. Each bonbon contains 10mg THC, in indica, sativa, and 1:1 (THC to CBD) blends. Cacao sourced from Rainforest Alliance Fair Trade Certified Farms. Available in Colorado. At BlueKudu.com.


The Cannabis Shack 420 Hell Sauce–An award-winning infused hot wing sauce; 5.3 ounces is enough for 6-12 wings. Recipe includes mustard, honey, cannabis oil, red wine vinegar, cayenne pepper, aged cayenne puree, soy, infused coconut oil, brown sugar, horseradish, Thai ginger, chipotle, red chili pepper, kaffir lime, ground red pepper, garlic, lemongrass, shallot, black pepper, 120 mg THC, and a few secret ingredients. Available in Maine only. At TheCannabisShack.us.


Cheeba Chews Black Chocolate Taffy Chill and Chews–“The ideal way to describe the effects of these individually dosed three gram chocolate taffies. Known to provide a relaxing ‘body buzz,’ an indica chew great to consume to unwind and decompress. Settle in for a movie, or put your mind at ease with these indica blend chews,” is how Cheeba described these microdosed sweets. It isn’t Halloween unless you get some taffy, after all. Cheeba Chews has various products available in California, Nevada, and Colorado. At CheebaChews.com.


Evergreen Organix Magic Bar–“Made from scratch with all premium ingredients, Evergreen Organix Magic Bars are a rich layer bar” infused with cannabis. Sweet caramel batter is layered on a graham cracker crust, and then covered with coconut flakes, chocolate chips, and butterscotch morsels. Available with 25mg and 100mg THC options. Handcrafted in small batches, the company is locally-owned, family-operated, and has grown to become a leading supplier in Nevada. Their full range of baked treats includes cereal and chocolate bars, and even their own cannabutter and infused coconut oil for the DIY edible baker. At EvergreenOrganix.com.


Goodship Peppermint Patties–Made with organic, pure peppermint essential oil and organic dark chocolate; the smooth, cool fondant center is infused with C02-extracted cannabis oil for no unpleasant “weedy” taste. The peppermint patties are available in THC-only and THC/CBD varieties. At Goodship, consumers will find a full range of sweets, as well as the brand’s Heady Lecture series, where cannabis experts bring education and info to cannabis-curious series attendees. Available in Washington State. At TheGoodship.com.


incredibles Pumpkin Pie Delight Bar–This leading, award-winning edibles manufacturer offers its take on the beloved seasonal flavor. “Cool white chocolate with pumpkin spice and graham cracker for a medicated experience you’ll savor,” described incredibles, adding that each batch is triple-tested for dosing accuracy and quality. Gluten-free, non-GMO, and made with sustainably sourced oils. Other chocolate bars in fall-like flavors from incredibles include S’mores, Peanut Budda Buddha, Affogato, and Fireberry, among many other choices. At ILoveincredibles.com.


VCC Brands 1:1 THC/CBD Churro Cookies–With a flavor that’s on track to be one of the newest yummy trends in treats, traditional churro cinnamon-sugar flavor is all rolled up into delicious mini Vegan cookies, from a pioneering, award-winning California edible manufacturer. Founded as Venice Cookie Company, VCC Brands is a family-owned, local brand available in California. Each childproof, resealable pouch contains 100mg CBD and 100mg THC. 10mg CBD, 10mg THC per cookie, with ten cookies per pouch, for manageable microdosing. At VCCBrands.com.


Pot Stocks, ETFs, Top News And Data From The Cannabis Industry This Week

It was another busy week for the cannabis industry, with Aurora Cannabis Inc (OTC: ACBFFapplying to list on the New York Stock Exchange, tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) reportedly showing interest inin Aphria Inc. (OTC: APHQF), and Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMTconfirming it conducted “some preliminary fact-finding” related to selling cannabis-based products in its stores.

The biggest news come out of MedMen Enterprises Inc (OTC: MMNFF), which completed its $682-million acquisition of PharmaCann, becoming the largest U.S. cannabis company.

“This week’s move by MedMen shows that the company is hyper focused on grabbing as much market share, as early as it possibly can. It’s a big pivot from the company’s original strategy to stick to limited specific markets,” Debra Borchardt, CEO of Green Market Report, told Benzinga. “Another big development this week was the reverse takeover plan from Cresco Labs, and the merge between MJ Freeway and MTech [see our notes below]. It’s possible that, with MJ Freeway getting listed on Nasdaq, we’ll get our first female CEO of a cannabis company to trade on a major exchange.”

Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) said it lifted its ban of search results for cannabis-related pages.

“It has been the best news Facebook has released all year,” said Abraham Villegas, owner of the digital marketing agency AV Social Strategies, and Founder of The Medical Cannabis Community. "I operate several online medical cannabis communities, and what is most disheartening is that people truly rely on our groups for information. Many people have no other way of finding out about cannabis and as a result, frequently resort to online searches for answers… I am so glad and grateful that this shadow ban has been lifted as it will once again allow people the chance to find our communities and obtain the relief they need.”

Marijuana Indexes & ETFs

The United States Marijuana Index, which tracks most of the largest marijuana stocks in the U.S., closed the week flat, while the North American Marijuana Index, which also includes Canadian stocks, gained almost 1 percent.

Over the last five trading days, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (OTC: HMLSF) (TSE:HMMJ) rose 2.3 percent, while the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE: MJ) rose 1.2 percent. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) closed the week down 4.1 percent.

Stock Moves

Here are some of the top marijuana stocks (market cap above $100 million) in U.S. exchanges and how the performed over the last five trading days:

• 22nd Century Group Inc (NYSE: XXII): up 6.4 percent

• Aphria Inc (OTC: APHQF): up 16.4 percent

• Canopy Growth Corp (NYSE: CGC): up 4.7 percent

• Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON): up 0.8 percent

• Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd (OTC: TGODF): down 7.6 percent

• Green Thumb Industries Inc (OTC: GTBIF): up 3.1 percent

• GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ: GWPH): down 5.6 percent

• iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc (OTC: ITHUF): down 5.2 percent

• MedMen Enterprises Inc. (OTC: MMNFF): up 36 percent

• THC Biomed Intl Ltd (OTC: THCBF): down 3.3 percent

• Tilray Inc (NASDAQ: TLRY): up 1 percent

• Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: ZYNE): down 6.4 percent

In Other News

The parliament in Lithuania voted to legalize medicines containing cannabis. “If the parliament is ready to adopt this decision, we will make a very important step towards guaranteeing the best possible treatment for patients suffering from serious illnesses,” Mykolas Majauskas, member of the parliament, said during the parliamentary debates.

Benzinga reached out to Eduardo Blasina, managing director of Cannabis Uruguay Ltd. and founder of the Montevideo Cannabis Museum.

“This reaffirms the huge opportunity that the cannabis market represents, not only in the U.S. and Canada, but also on a global scale. Take a country like Uruguay, which can export cannabis-derived products… The potential is massive,” he said. “Every step in the direction of legalization helps us advance on our ethical commitment to providing access to cannabis to anyone who needs it.”

MTech Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: MTEC) and MJ Freeway entered into a definitive merger agreement. Under the deal, Denver-based MJ Freeway and MTech will become subsidiaries of a newly-created company. The merger, which is subject to approval by equity holders of each company, is slated to close in early 2019.

"This merger allows us to amplify our vision and strategy, thus extending our leadership role along the cannabis technology ecosystem," said Jessica Billingsley, co-founder and CEO of MJ Freeway. "With an increased balance sheet, we have the financial support needed to help cannabis businesses make intelligent decisions faster. With our acquisition partners, MJ Freeway will fast-track growth and expand product offerings to meet the evolving demands of a highly regulated industry."

MediPharm Labs (OTC: MLCPF) announced a three-year Cannabis Concentrate Program Agreement with Emerald Health Therapeutics Inc (OTC: EMHTF) whereby Emerald will provide MediPharm with dried cannabis to create premium quality cannabis oils, marking the fifth agreement of this kind for the processor.

Medical Marijuana Inc. announced the launch of its newest brand, Dixie Botanicals Canada, partnering with Canadian extraction and formulation company Salvation Botanicals.

"The company is pleased to be launching this well-known brand to such a promising new market," said Medical Marijuana, Inc. CEO Dr. Stuart Titus. "Dixie Botanicals Canada now offers a collection of Triple Lab Tested CBD products while consistently meeting its ever-growing customers' needs."

Phoenix Life Sciences International Limited (OTC: MJMD) said it received approval from the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) to establish operations in the country and manufacture botanical pharmaceutical products.

“This is a major step for the company and our operations in Vanuatu,” said Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Life Martin Tindall. “With this application approval, we can begin to establish the necessary resources required to initiate clinical trials and develop scalable production capacity for our botanical pharmaceutical medications and begin leading the global health initiative to end the diabetes epidemic.”

Green Flower is expanding its educational initiatives, announcing this week a new strategic partnership with dialogEDU. The companies are working together to provide designs for online higher education cannabis programs for trade schools, colleges and universities entering the global cannabis education market. Green Flower will utilize its extensive library of videos and multimedia assets combined with dialogEDU to provide schools with designs for cannabis courses for online and on-ground students that may be used for programs leading to certificates, diplomas and degrees.

CannAmerica Brands announced it will list on the Canadian Securities Exchange on Oct. 15.

PotBotics Inc. announced it entered into a letter of intent to complete a reverse takeover of Express Capital Corp. Upon completion, the resulting entity will apply to list its common shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

"We're excited to give everyone the opportunity to take part in one of the leading medical cannabis technology companies. With an established AI ecosystem and the upcoming release of the first dose-measuring vaporizer, the RYAH, we hope to bring more professionalism and transparency to the medical community while tracking some of the most exciting analytics this industry desperately needs,” said David Goldstein, CEO of Potbotics.

Azuca, a line of fast-acting, chef-quality cannabis edibles and ingredients, launched in the Massachusetts medical market through a licensing of its Intellectual Property to iAnthus. Azuca products rely on a patent-pending technology that wraps cannabis molecules to make them more water soluble, allowing for easy digestion in the stomach, and avoiding the gut and liver where cannabis is degraded and absorption is slowed.

“I developed the Azuca brand in order to solve the most prominent issues facing the cannabis edibles sector today: lack of proper dosing and unpredictable effects. With fast-acting, consistent results in precise doses, Azuca products are designed to build trust among both new and seasoned cannabis consumers alike,” said Ron Silver, Founder and Chief Creative Officer. “Our team is in the midst of executing a multi-state—and global—expansion strategy, which will bring Azuca’s breakthrough technology to consumers worldwide who are looking for an approachable, tasty and reliable edibles experience.”

Cresco Labs announced its plans to reverse takeover Randsburg International Gold Corp. This move would allow Cresco to go public and seek approval to list its stock on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

Find out more about these news and others on Green Acre Capital, Canadian legalization and Aphria with our friends at Marijuana Money, who make a weekly video summary of the top financial and business news in the cannabis industry.

More From Benzinga’s Cannabis Newsdesk

During the week, Benzinga also reported on:

New Frontier Data’s take on the DEA’s re-scheduling of cannabis-derived drugs, on California’s legalization of hemp cultivation, and on how cannabis production consumes less energy than McDonald's Corp (NYSE: MCD) and Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX).

Pyxus International Inc (NYSE: PYX)’s recent breakout and Citron Research’s bullish view.

The most actively-traded over-the-counter stocks for September.

Cowen’s view on Tilray, Canopy and the overall cannabis market.

The views of Ivan Feinseth, chief investment officer at Tigress Financial, on cannabis stocks’ valuations.

New ways for cannabis companies to raise money.

Blockchain as an alternative solution for the industry’s banking challenges.

Interesting Data

Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics released a report looking into the edibles market. According to the papers, people in the U.S. and Canada spent more than $1 billion in cannabis edibles last year and consumption is expected to surpass $4.1 billion by 2022.

Events Calendar

Oct. 11–13: The New West Summit, a conference focused o disruptive developments in technology, science, media and investment within the cannabis space will hit Oakland, California. Speakers include Weediquette’s Krishna Andavolu, Slow Ventures’ Dave Morin, BerneSteve DeAngelo, Ricardo Baca and others.

Oct. 16: Voters in five states (Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah) will have their say on how marijuana should be regulated. Ballotpedia, the encyclopedia of American politics, is hosting a free webinar tracking these measures. Editor-in-Chief Geoff Pallay told Benzinga: “Heading into November, 31 states and D.C. have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. Nine states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. The legalization, in one form or another, of marijuana has had far reaching implications for the country and ballot measures have been at the forefront of this legalization. 2018 will be no exception.”

Oct. 19–21: The Initiative presents Hustle Hard: A Cannabis Friendly Retreat For Women Who Mean Business, a three-day intensive retreat for women in cannabis in Bend, Oregon.

Oct. 20–27: A coalition of over 20 organizations working at the intersection of the cannabis industry, racial equity, and reparative justice, will join local and community groups across the country for the inaugural National Expungement Week (N.E.W.). Conceived to aid those disenfranchised by the war on drugs, N.E.W. will offer free clinics to help to remove, seal, or reclassify eligible convictions from criminal records. N.E.W. events will be held in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Haven, Philadelphia, Prince George’s County, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Organizers will also provide attendees with a varied (depending upon location) range of supportive services including employment resources, voter engagement, health screenings and more.

Oct. 24: Fast Company's Innovation Festival session on Cannabusiness is coming to New York City. Panelists include Verena VonPfetten, co-founder, Gossamer, Michael Steinmetz, CEO of Flow Kana, and Karan Wadhera, Managing Partner of Casa Verde Capital. Panel discussion will cover the three principal ways individuals are jumping into cannabis: from plant touching operations rooted in northern California’s sustainable cannabis community, to a celebrity-backed investment fund, to a woman-led media company.

Oct. 25–26: Enlighten, the first full-scale enterprise technology solution in the cannabis space will be partnering with Lemonhaze to put on The Lemonhaze Cannabis & Comedy Convention, taking place at the newly refurbished Tacoma Dome. This event hopes to be for Cannabis what SXSW has been for technology, pairing innovation and a hub of influence with fun and education. The event will feature comedy by Doug Benson and will combine a major networking event for the cannabis industry.

Oct. 30–31: Michigan is hosting its 1st Commercial Cannabis Conference & Expo. This inaugural year is special - celebrating its first year in a commercial framework and supporting the upcoming recreational legalization vote. Collectively, the state's cannabis community is taking a stand for a healthy and strong cannabis industry in Michigan. Sponsorship, booths, and tickets are available.

Nov. 1: The Arcview Group, CannaTech and URI Capital Management are co-hosting Hong Kong’s first-ever Cannabis Investor Symposium, focused on the global investment opportunity, with an emphasis in those attractive to the Asian market.


Chef-Quality CBD Infusions Connect Cannabis to the Foodservice Industry

With the cannabis industry booming across the nation, CBD has made its way onto menus as an infusion that can be added into coffee, cocktails, and more.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Paul Barron speaks with CEO, Kim Sanchez Rael and Chief Creative Officer, Ron Silver of Azuca, a company with a unique technology to create fast-acting cannabis edibles, sugar, and syrups made from chef-quality, all-natural ingredients. The three discuss how the company came to be, the latest CBD trends, and the future for cannabis in the foodservice industry.

Listen to this episode of The Barron Report for more insights on how CBD is making an impact in the foodservice industry.

SHOW NOTES

  • 01:38 What is CBD?
  • 03:34 Serial Entrepreneur Shifts to Foodservice & Wellness
  • 05:02 Introducing CBD Products to the Food Service Industry
  • 06:42 Connecting Cannabis to the Food Industry
  • 09:06 Fast Acting and Controllable Dosing
  • 10:50 Industry Response to the Products
  • 12:52 What is the product's market?
  • 15:56 The speed at which the CBD Market is changing
  • 18:01 Expanding the products Market
  • 20:11 How to Measure CBD in Products?
  • 23:06 What is a CBD Product’s Expiration period?
  • 24:32 CBD Market Growth

Restaurants add cannabis-derived ingredient to their menus

The James New York NoMad hotel is offering new room service items designed not only to feed but to relax its guests.

The luxury hotel tapped famed cannabis chef Andrea Drummer to design a CBD-infused menu. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical component of the cannabis plant, usually hemp. It is a non-psychoactive chemical compound, which means it won’t give you the same kind of high that THC-laced marijuana does.

CBD is increasingly popping up in oils, gums, bath scrubs, body lotions, lip balms, and more. Now, chefs across the country are using it in dishes for its potential health benefits, which some studies have shown could include treating pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, and seizures.

“There’s a misconception about cannabis and CBD users,” says Drummer, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu who is based in California. “We’re understanding more of the health benefits of CBD.”

Recreational marijuana is now legal in nine states, while medical marijuana is legal in 30. Laws regarding CBD vary state by state, or in many cases, are quite unclear. Recreational marijuana is not legal in New York, but industrial hemp is, and the CBD market is taking off as a result. While marijuana is legal in California, the state this summer decided that the use of industrial hemp as a source of CBD in food should be prohibited for now.

In New York, The James’ room service menu has spicy meatballs with 15 mg of CBD, a butter lettuce salad with 20 mg, an olive tapenade with 16.6 mg, potato tots with 10 mg each, and an ice cream sundae with 20 mg. The hotel also offers a bottle of CBD Living Water.

The items don’t come cheap: They range from $14 for the ice cream sundae or olive tapenade duo to $32 for the spicy meatballs.

Other examples of restaurants and cafes that have added CBD to their menus:

  • Monarch and the Milkweed, a restaurant in Burlington, Vermont, has a line of CBD-infused sweets on its menu. Items include “Little Chocolate Smoke Toke,” an Applewood spoked crunchy praline and cinnamon-filled dark chocolate truffle with 50 mg of CBD; the “Evergreen Buddy,” a pine needle fondant-filled dark chocolate truffle with 50 mg of CBD; and the “HazelBonBon,” a milk chocolate hazelnut praline bar wrapped in gold foil with 20 mg of CBD.
  • Fuel, a health-food restaurant chain in Philadelphia, has introduced its "Dream" collection of CBD-infused smoothies. It comes in three flavors: the vegan Berry Dream and Green Dream as well as Orange Dream, which can be regular or vegan. The company plans to develop more CBD-infused food and drinks by next year.
  • Ankeny Tap and Table in Portland, Oregon, has the Two Flowers IPA. According to its website, it is "the first commercially produced Cannabidiol (CBD) Hemp infused beer in Oregon." It has more than 5 mg of CBD per 16-oz pint.
  • Blue Sparrow Coffee in Denver has a CBD Nitro Cold Brew on tap. A small costs $6 and a large is $7.50. Patrons can also buy bags of Strava CBD coffee that vary in potency.

Bubby’s, which has two locations in New York City, offers CBD-infused sweeteners for cocktails, coffee, tea, and lemonade. Owner Ron Silver has founded a line of CBD sweeteners and syrups called Azuca, which he hopes to market to other establishments.

“It’s here to stay and more and more benefits will be revealed,” Silver says. “It’s a good substitute for opioids and also a good substitute for alcohol.”

By CHLOE, a vegan national fast-food chain, has launched Feelz by CHLOE, a CBD-Infused product line featuring cakes, cupcakes, cookies, Rice Krispies treats, mini pies, popcorn, dog bones, and more.

Samantha Wasser, co-founder of by CHLOE, says the company first experimented with CBD in April with the Daily Hit CBD Brownie.

“We sold out in less than 30 minutes and after seeing the response from our customers, I knew we had to do something more meaningful,” she says.

The company has partnered with experts such as Nice Paper, a website devoted to cannabis research, to educate its staff and customers on the benefits of CBD.

“CBD is growing in popularity and sparking a lot of conversation and interest,” she says. “We see this as a growing movement.”


CBD-Infused Foods and Drinks Grow in Popularity at NYC Shops, Cafes

More businesses in New York City are capitalizing on the growing popularity of cannabidiol, or CBD, as merchants tout its health benefits to sell CBD-infused products as varied as pastries, coffee and topical creams.

The controversial compound found in the cannabis plant is said to have several medical benefits, including anti-anxiety, stress relief, pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. It's even been approved by the FDA to treat seizures linked to two rare forms of epilepsy.

Research is still emerging on the use of CBD for medical conditions, and the jury's still out on risks and side effects, according to a News 4 I-Team investigation. But with the increased interest in CBD, New York City shops have recognized an opportunity to sell products containing the oil.

Ian Ford sells CBD-infused drinks ranging from $6 to $7, along with lollipops, caramels and jams at his Brooklyn cafe, . He says regulars come in to purchase CBD foods three to four times a week, claiming they help with issues such as arthritis, stress, and even ADHD.

"People are buying this product because it helps them get through their day," Ford told News 4 New York. "They’re regular people who suffer from stressful jobs and come in to relax. CBD mixed with the caffeine in our coffee gives them the energy to go about their day without the constant stress and anxiety they suffer through."

Caffeine Underground was the first coffee shop in New York to roll out the drinks in March, and ever since, Ford says his business has improved significantly.

"One-third of our business comes from CBD-infused drinks alone," he said, adding that inquisitive foreigners also frequent his shop after finding out about it online.

In Two Bridges, Oliver Coffee is also selling coffee infused with cannabinoid. For an additional $3, baristas will add the oil to any drink.

Ultimately, owners of these specialty shops emphasize the importance of informed shopping. Luis Sagar, owner of The Alchemist Kitchen in the East Village, wants his shoppers to come into his store with questions and leave with the knowledge to form their own opinions.

Customers who enter his shop will always have a consultation with a trained herbalist, to limit confusion. "From the beginning, we don’t sell right off the shelf… we like to inform first," Sagar said.

Sagar sells the CBD in four forms: drops, gel caps, water soluble CBD for infusing drinks, and topical creams and lotions. The four versions are processed differently, but all include CBD in some form.

"CBD is definitely growing in popularity… Alchemist is benefiting [because people] know they’re not walking into some hippie place selling herbs."

By CHLOE, the popular vegan chain restaurant, has also taken a bite out of the CBD craze and will unveil "Feelz by Chloe" on Sept. 27. It is partnering with CBD lifestyle brand Toast to bring customers more than 25 menu items including cakes, brownies, whoopee-pies and bubble tea.

By CHLOE co-founder Samantha Wasser said in a press release, "I am a big believer in the benefits of CBD and the potential of this ever-expanding industry."

Other businesses like Bubby’s in Tribeca is selling CBD-infused cocktails. For around $20, you can drink a Banana Rum Old Fashioned or a Summer Margarita — all mixed with a CBD sweetener. Bubby's partnered with Azuca to introduce a CBD infused sweetener to the menu, which they put in their cocktails, coffees and teas.

CBD and THC are two active ingredients found in marijuana, but unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not create the mind-altering "high" that THC does, according to Medical News Today, a website indexing health news. A number of reputable medical centers are doing research into the safety and effectiveness of CBD, the I-Team reports. One business report predicts the industry could hit $22 billion by 2022.