By Lauren Bray
A favorite stop for local cyclists, hipsters, and coffee enthusiasts is about to get more chill. Handlebar Coffee Roasters recently partnered with local Sugar Mill Farms to produce the only homegrown cannabidiol (CBD)-powered nitro cold brew beverage on the Central Coast.
The beverage will debut at the Earth Day Festival this weekend, April 26 through 28, at Alameda Park where Sugar Mill Farms will be offering complimentary samples from chilled kegs in the Eco-Marketplace.
Handlebar Coffee Roasters opened their first cafe at 128 E. Canon Perdido Street in 2011, next to Three Pickles, the former home of Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens. Handlebar owners and former professional cyclists Aaron Olson and Kim Anderson dreamt of bringing a European-style cafe with a cycling theme to serve up artisanal roasted coffees in the Santa Barbara area. While quickly becoming a local hotspot, they grew their brand by spending two years renovating the old Safeway Grocery building at 2720 De la Vina Street. It debuted in 2017 adding a much-needed cultural boost to the upper De La Vina area.
Now their European-style cafe dream is coming into full view with a little inspiration from Amsterdam’s marijuana-themed coffee shops. Sugar Mill Farms, a Santa Barbara-based vendor of CBD-infused edibles and goodies, aided Handlebar’s launch into the ready-to-drink beverage market with Handlebar Nitro CBD Cold Brew. Containing virtually no THC, the cannabidiol (CBD) in the beverage is a non-psychotropic extract derived from 100% U.S. grown and processed hemp.
Formulated to be served straight up or on ice, Olson says the resultant full-bodied beverage has a silky mouthfeel with sweet caramel notes and is low in acidity. The process begins with South American beans gently roasted in their restored 1960’s-era Probat roaster which are then cold brewed for 24-hours. Olson explains that by adding nitrogen once in the keg, the bubbles create a smooth, full-bodied pour with a deliciously frothy characteristic, similar to a pint of Guinness. Each 12-ounce serving contains 25 milligrams of CBD extract.
“Our cold brew on tap is already extremely popular at both cafes, so it made sense to expand into a CBD-infused version with our friends at Sugar Mill Farms,” said Anderson. “We’re going to introduce it this week at our cafes and are extremely interested to see the reception it gets at Earth Day, which will give us exposure to people from all over Southern California.”
Since the 2018 Farm Bill passing, the use of CBD-infused coffees and beverages has exploded on the market. According to BevNET, the leading trade publication and conference producer for the beverage industry, it has been “one of the year’s hottest trends” with new bottled and canned CBD product entries popping up daily.
Following test marketing of Handlebar Nitro CBD Cold Brew over the summer, both firms plan to roll out ready-to-drink beverages in 12-ounce cans for distribution throughout the tri-county later this year.
Sugar Mill Farms’ co-founders Shawn Comrie and Joshua Lynn say gaining brand exposure at the Handlebar Coffee locations and on the shelves of retailers is a natural evolution for their product line.
“With the bulk of our sales still originating on our website, we’re beginning to explore retail partnerships where consumers are already seeking out CBD and adaptogen-centric products to complement their active lifestyles and support their wellness objectives,” said Comrie, CEO of Sugar Mill Farms. “We love the coffee category because caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the world, and when combined with CBD it boosts energy, improves mood and creates a feeling of wellbeing which is simply unequaled.”
Currently, Sugar Mill Farms produces three primary categories of “ingestibles” and topicals : sleep, energy, and beauty. All products are produced using premium quality CBD extract and other active ingredients sourced domestically.
“Multiple studies have shown that the hundreds of naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, terpenes, and cannabidiols found in hemp induce a variety of wellness benefits, ranging from promoting restful sleep, elevating energy levels, and mitigating joint pain and muscle inflammation,” said Lynn. “Expanding into beverages aligns perfectly with our mission to make the naturally occurring, restorative properties of hemp available to consumers in convenient, flavorful, and high-quality products.”
Handlebar Nitro CBD Cold Brew will be available in complimentary samples at the Sugar Mill Farms exhibit near the Main Stage as part of the Earth Day Festival. The festival runs from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening at Alameda Park.
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