The newest marijuana-infused creation to come from a Springfield manufacturing lab is a collaboration with a local coffee company that officials say is the first such product in the state.
Cannabis-infused coffee pods hit dispensary shelves across Missouri in early August. They’re made in partnership by Show-Me Organics Inc., a majority family-owned company, and The Coffee Ethic LLC, a longtime downtown coffee shop. The coffee pods are released under Missouri’s Own Edibles, one of three brands through which Show-Me Organics sells its infused products.
“We’ve had the idea for about a year now,” Show-Me Organics CEO Boston Dickerson said of cannabis-infused coffee, noting the company approached The Coffee Ethic owner Michelle Billionis roughly six months ago about a collaboration.
“I can’t say enough about Michelle and the team at The Coffee Ethic,” Dickerson said, adding the coffee pods are sold in about 100 dispensaries statewide. “From the time we approached them, they were very open to the idea.”
Billionis said the concept wasn’t a surprise to her when she heard from Show-Me Organics.
“I had already been reading and researching about adding CBD into coffee,” she said, adding that led her to consider THC-infused coffee. “I was very interested because I think it’s a good thing for people.”
Dickerson said the coffee pods available to medical marijuana cardholders are infused with nano-emulsified cannabis, meaning the effects are felt around 10 minutes after consumption to better coincide with the immediate impact of caffeine. The pods contain 10mg of THC, 10mg of CBD and 2mg of CBG. They sell $28 for a four-pack and $9 individually. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, while CBG, or cannabigerol, is among chemicals found in cannabis plants.
“We ended up using a Brazilian bean that really accents the coffee well and knocks off the bitterness that CBD would normally add,” Dickerson said, declining to disclose the product development costs or its sales projections.
The coffee pods were launched after roughly four months of research and development, Dickerson said. Show-Me Organics also discussed the concept with other unnamed coffee companies, but he said The Coffee Ethic’s community reputation and strong marketing on social media made them a top candidate.
Billionis said she did research on Show-Me Organics and its line of products, which include vape cartridges, pre-rolled joints and edibles such as gummies, capsules and chocolate bars. She also visited the company’s manufacturing facility on Pythian Street and came away impressed.
“It’s new territory for me, but I kind of thought this is interesting and it seems to help people,” she said. “I feel like the company was in line with what we’re about and so I decided to go for it. We did some tastings and developed a roast for that particular product.”
Dickerson said his company, which has produced 5,000 pods to date, has licensing and wholesale agreements with The Coffee Ethic for the infused product. Officials declined to disclose terms of the deals. Billionis said her shop has fulfilled monthly coffee bean orders for an undisclosed amount over the past three months in increments of 80 pounds, adding this is her company’s first time producing coffee pods. The beans are roasted at an off-site facility, she added.
A newer ‘Route’
While Show-Me Organics has a new addition to its product line, medical marijuana entrepreneur John Lopez has been making inroads to expand his industry reach for over a year.
Lopez, who co-owns Old Route 66 Wellness dispensaries in Springfield and Ozark, is also an investor owner of Infused Industries LLC, dba Bison Infused. The Springfield company, also owned by Matt Campbell and other silent partners, has operated since July 2021 under a management agreement with 1913 Carrolton Manufacturing Inc. Bison Infused is in the process of purchasing the infused-product manufacturing license from 1913 Carrolton Manufacturing and awaits approval from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Lopez said. He expects a green light before year’s end.
Under the management agreement, Bison Infused has manufactured infused products such as pre-rolled joints, vape cartridges, cannabis oil, drinks, gummies, chocolates and tinctures. The medicinal products, which Lopez said are marketed under Bison and Zen Cannabis brands, are in 134 dispensaries in the state. He said MDHSS approved a change of location request last year, allowing Bison Infused to manufacture the products in Elkland instead of Carrolton. The company’s 20,000-square-foot facility is roughly 3 miles off Highway 65 and 10 miles south of Buffalo.
“From the beginning, we wanted to get into any area we could,” Lopez said of entrepreneurial ambitions within the industry. “With manufacturing, we’re able to produce quality products for ourselves, for our dispensaries.”
He said total investment to launch Bison Infused was about $1.1 million. That included purchasing the license, lab equipment and beginning the lease on the Elkland building from Lollis Properties LLC.
Bison is an in-house brand, mostly for pre-rolls and cartridges, Lopez said, adding the company partners with California-based Zen Cannabis on edibles. He said at least 60% of Bison Infused sales are from Zen Cannabis.
“They get a percentage of sales, and we get all of their recipes, and they teach us how to make it all,” he said, declining to disclose agreement financials. “As we expand and grow, we’ll start adding more products, but we don’t want to limit that. We just want to see where the industry is at and what the consumer is doing at that time and what are they looking for.”
Lopez said Bison Infused sales have exceeded $200,000 each of the past three months, reaching a high of $255,000 in August. He expects $200,000 will probably be the average baseline for company sales moving forward, as competition and more products from companies fill the market. However, he said with the passage of Amendment 3, which seeks to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, sales could potentially triple. The ballot issue is set to go before voters in November.
Show-Me Organics also has more products under development, Dickerson said, noting one of those is again with The Coffee Ethic. Aside from being in discussions about additional roasts for the coffee pods, the two companies plan to bring infused chocolate-covered espresso beans to dispensaries before the end of the year.
“The pricing and dosage levels are still to be determined,” he said. “They’ll be coming out sometime in the fourth quarter.”
The partnership with The Coffee Ethic is the second such collaboration for the manufacturer, following the recent launch of Twice Baked Red Hot Riplets with St. Louis-based snack company Old Vienna LLC. The spicy potato chips were followed this month by Red Hot Riplets brownies, which Dickerson said are being sold exclusively in St. Louis before a wider rollout on Sept. 13.
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