Halo Infusions and Extractions and Yellow Brick Coffee are teaming up to add cold brew coffee to their Pure and Simple brand of THC beverages with or without hemp milk. Halo is also using local ayurvedic catering company Dish For Dosha to produce their chai tea version of the product. Both products come in a 50 mg THC dose, are available with or without hemp milk and sold at numerous dispensaries throughout Tucson for about $10.
"They were game to experiment with different blends so we could find the right one," said Victoria Poulos, senior marketing manager for Halo Infusions and Extractions. "They were flexible and energetic about the product, so that's how this partnership came about."
Poulos said her company researched several local roasters before setting on Tucson's Yellow Brick Coffee, which many of the company's employees already drank. But Poulos said it was the coffee company's values and ethics that set Yellow Brick Coffee apart from the rest.
"We're very good at medicating product and we decided to pair with someone who is very good at making coffee," said Poulos. "We wanted to work with someone from Tucson and we were familiar with (Yellow Brick Coffee) and how they source their beans ethically."
As one could imagine (or know from experience), cannabis in all forms has a unique flavor that can be overpowering, even when paired with some of the most aggressive flavors. Yellow Brick Coffee uses an Arabica bean blend especially tailored to Halo's specifications (a bit chocolaty) to tame the cannabis flavor, which may not be what some MMJ card-holding coffee drinkers are tasting for.
"We get their nitro brewed cold-pressed coffee delivered each week and we medicate it each week," Poulos said. "We also use whole plant extracts so all our coffee, our juices, our edibles give you the entourage effect of all the other cannabinoids."
David Perreria, owner of Yellow BrickCoffee, said even before he was approached by Halo, he had been interested in making a medicated cold brew coffee after seeing numerous MMJ edibles hit the market. But Perreria was unsure of how he would produce the product, or even what the product would be.
"My original thought was to do something with hot coffee but I didn't think adding a THC oil would be a good idea," Perreria said. "Sure, you can brew a cold brew and add a THC extract, but it will just sit at the top."
When Poulos approached Yellow Brick Coffee about working together, Perreria saw his opportunity.
"One thing led to another and I think because our cold brew was successful as is, it just made sense," Perreria said. "We're obviously a different product, but their (business) model is relatively similar to ours. They have a lot of quality control and traceability, as well."
Traceability and quality control are important to a coffee company who can trace all the beans they use to their original source, at least to a co-op level. This was a huge reason Yellow Brick Coffee agreed to partner with the company, said Perreria.
"Their quality control and their edible line are definitely some of the best in the state," Perreria said. "It took a little while (to bring the cold brew to market) but that was welcome."
Poulos said it wasn't easy for the dispensary to start a new THC beverage line, which took about a year of research and development before the drinks could be sold to the MMJ card-holding public.
"We had a lot of things to troubleshoot," Poulos said. "It was everything down to how are we going to label the bottles, and then we have to buy new machinery just to do that."
Tests on the beverage's potency, as well as shelf life, had to be performed on the cold brew and chai tea before it could be sold to the public, according to Poulos
"We test all our products, from the concentrates in the beginning to the end product," Poulos said. "We're feverishly dedicated to the science of cannabis."
Perreria cites Halo's dedication to releasing quality products as to why he hopes the partnership between the two will last long into the future.
"We both fit in line with the sourceability of our products in terms of where they cultivate and how they cultivate," Perreria said. "The best part of working with them is they're kind and transparent and I love that."