Portland is really good at certain things—coffee, cannabis, and that sense of smugness whenever bikes, beards, or microbrews are discussed. (“I’ll take ‘Fixed Gear Red Whisker Ale’ for the trifecta, Alex.”)
I don’t enjoy biking, rarely drink, and can only manage to “grow” a “beard” that looks like someone shook a pillowcase of cat hair over my Gorilla Glue-slathered chin. So that leaves me with my old friends, coffee and cannabis. Together they make for a popular combo, to the extent that a cup of coffee and a well-rolled joint or fat-packed bowl has been known as a “Northwest speedball” for decades (#cannabisnotopiates).
So I was curious, but well-behaved, when a sizeable box of beverages arrived at the Mercury office recently. Inside was a selection of bottles of infused waters and cold-brew coffees. And by infused, I mean there were five milligrams of THC or CBD in each 16-ounce drink.
The company that produces these “wacky waters” and “chronic coffees” (I already bought the domains, move along) is Level+, which presumably translates to “level up.” They’ve partnered with Northwest favorite and homegrown-small-business-made-good Coava Coffee Roasters, who provide a damn fine cold brew for this undertaking. It’s the first time their cold brew has been made available outside their cafés, where I can often be found gleefully handing over my money. Disclosure: I’m fully down with Coava’s cold brews.
Level+’s product line consists of five beverages—those seeking CBD can choose from a lemon/ginger water or a Coava cold brew, and THC lovers have watermelon/mint or grapefruit waters and a cold brew offering. Each bottle is well-designed and easily portable, and they traveled well during a couple busy days of meetings, in which I drank the complete product line in place of the normal cold-brews-and-water liquid diet I have adopted as of late.
I emailed Meghan Pruitt, partner and co-founder of Level+. She told me, “The cannabis used is of the highest quality, and whole plant extracts from that is what’s added to all the drinks. We use a clear, locally sourced distillate, so there’s no aftertaste. And because we’ve made the cannabis water-soluble, activation time is pretty quick at 20 to 30 minutes.”
She told me all of Level+ products are micro-dosed with the belief that micro-dosing is the future of cannabis edibles. She cited the difficulty in evenly dividing a gummy bear—exactly how much THC is in the head again?—and explained that they wanted a responsibly dosed amount that lets the user control their experience.
“We wanted to incorporate cannabis into a beverage we were already consuming daily. Everyone drinks water and coffee, [so] we thought, why can’t this be cannabis-infused?” (And yet whenever I ask for an extra shot of THC from my barista, I’m the “creepy weed guy with his creepy weed drink order again.” FU, Dunkin’ Donuts.)
Pruitt emphasized that Level+’s makers believe that “not everyone wants to get totally lit, and it allows people who have never consumed cannabis to do so in a safe way. It lets the user control their experience, and takes the ‘scary’ factor out of edibles.”
So, how did they work out for me over those two days?
Good, but mind that they offer a “microdose” serving per bottle, and I am what we can charitably call—as we shake our collective heads in disappointment with pursed lips—a “macrodose”-inclined consumer. This makes me a very expensive date if I am going down the strictly edibles path, and a potentially poor candidate compared to your average bear.
The manic edge that comes from two 16-ounce cold brews a day in place of food—who knew?—was slightly softened by Level+’s THC version. And I generally don’t feel a discernable effect from edible CBD, but these versions tasted good. The infused waters were also good. But my tolerance level for THC/CBD places me in the minority, so it shouldn’t be a true indicator of the effects and benefits that are possible for most users. For those with lower tolerances or limited experience, these would be a great introduction.