When researching the world of Hemp, I got stuck down a rabbit hole on Instagram and stumbled across Mary Joe, a CBD-infused cold brew coffee brand.
The packaging immediately jumped out at me. Something about them felt very familiar. Having worked in the surf industry for over 15 years, I knew that whoever was behind this brand was from my world, so I tracked them down, and sure enough I was right. Turns out they are located just up the street from my last job (as editor in chief at Herewith Magazine, in Costa Mesa, California). I drove up to my old stomping grounds to sit down and have a chat with co-founders Ryan Rankin and Robert Guy to see who was behind this brand and find out more about what they are up to.
How did you come up with the idea for CBD cold brew coffee?
Ryan: It was a random idea. I wasn’t putting a lot of time into thinking about starting a cannabis brand. It was just an idea that popped into my brain. It just evolved and snowballed. Robert came in with a bunch of good ideas. It started as something small and turned into what it is now. We went through a bunch of different ideas and came to CBD and coffee. It seemed like it would be something that would be positive to make. People are drinking coffee anyway. It’s something you are probably incorporating into your daily routine already, and to get a little something extra in there like CBD is a good thing. That was the ethos behind the concept.
Robert: We have always been cannabis enthusiasts and stoked on all the medical benefits. It’s cool to be able to bring it to the public in a such consumable form that is familiar to people.
What made you guys want to get into CBD products?
Ryan: We grew up utilizing cannabis, and it was Robert who discovered high CBD strains of cannabis. We like cannabis, but we aren’t trying to sit around and get the super crazy science lab weed; we like the really mellow stuff that you can go and do whatever with, more of a subtle thing. There is such a broad range of cannabis strains like the crazy sativas and the really mellow indicas, and we always liked the mellow, productive side of it, and he discovered high CBD strain cannabis where you barely feel it and it’s almost like this energizing and productive effect.
Robert: We would use that and go surfing and it was awesome.
Ryan: And it kind of just grew from there. I had the idea of some sort of cannabis-infused coffee and Robert was like, “Yeah, a CBD one”. And then I found out you can utilize this hemp-derived CBD that anyone can buy. It started as this singular random idea, and we thought it could be a really cool thing. Through our own experiences with it and how beneficial it is, we got turned on to it, and after doing more research and learning all the crazy benefits from ingesting and topical, we were like, “This is where it’s at.”
What are some of the benefits of infusing cold brew coffee with CBD?
Ryan: First off, the original idea like I said was if you can get something extra out of something you are ingesting anyways, that just seemed like a good thing — almost like a no-brainer.
Robert: There are coffee addicts out there; everyone loves coffee. But some people — especially with cold brews — can get jittery or feel anxious, and what we found with the CBD is that it actually levels the top end of the coffee out. You can still get your dose of caffeine but still, feel chill throughout the day. It’s interesting because there are people from different industries, for example, I have friends that are graphic designers in an office working and it's really been helping them. To Jiu-Jitsu instructors who will drink some before they go and teach or before they go and train early in the morning, then they are ready throughout the day. It’s not only accessible, but it’s also kind of this yin-and-yang effect.
Ryan: It’s like a more efficient form of a coffee experience. I have a low tolerance for coffee, so it’s good for me. You are still getting the stimulative properties, but you are also getting that balance of reduced anxiety, which I think people really appreciate.
At the end of the day, we view it as a supplement. You aren’t getting a head change, that’s not what CBD is. It’s a subtle thing. It’s a sustainable thing. You aren’t using THC, where you are waking up and it’s messing your day up. The subtle things are actually more powerful. You can utilize it daily — theoretically, you could use it every day forever and it would improve your overall well-being. A lot of creative people are taking it for their office jobs, and they find it really effective. To sum it up, it’s a more balanced experience of something that people are already familiar with.
"We have always been cannabis enthusiasts and stoked on all the medical benefits."
As soon as I saw the artwork for the bottles, I knew you guys must somehow be intertwined in the action sports industry. Tell us a bit about the artwork and who created it.
Ryan: Artist Barry McGee did the artwork for the bottles. Robert helped facilitate that since he was living up in San Francisco at the time and they were surfing a bunch and are good friends. The concept behind it was we wanted a character to represent the brand and the name, not just a pun about the coffee but representing the character. He is supposed to be a knowledgeable wise character.
Robert: Like a being, in reference to Eastern medicine and philosophy. It’s hard to explain so that people get it.
Ryan: He’s like an ascended being that represents what you can attain with CBD. He has his third eye awakened, pineal gland is vibrating. Everything good in what you are trying to obtain. Still evolving. Letting the story unfold on its own. Barry seemed like the right guy to represent what we were looking for.
As far as involvement in the industry, we have worked with RVCA for a long time, and that had a lot to do with our inspiration growing up. We have been in the surf industry for a long time and pulled from our influences along the way and basically wrapped it up in our own way.
You guys are based in Southern California, which seems like the perfect location for a new brand in this industry. What are some of the benefits of being based there?
Ryan: The biggest benefit for sure is that a lot of the awareness of our brand comes from collaborating with people and getting people involved and having influencers stand by our product and represent it well. I think that is the biggest advantage. There are a lot of awesome people in this area.
Robert: Southern California, from what I have found, people are really involved in health and wellness and exercise. I was always under the impression that the further north you go, the more people are into that type of thing, but I think Southern California is the hub.
Ryan: For sure, it’s where we grew up and we have a lot of awesome relationships around here, and we surf, so that inspires us a lot. It’s a very lifestyle sort of thing. That is what we are looking to do with this brand: have it be more of a cultural thing than just focus on one product, so we want to build out a really nice brand that feels more like an experience and all that comes from our inspiration living around here, growing up around here.
I have been seeing all the cool kids with bottle in hand — professional MMA/Jiu-Jitsu champion BJ Penn, pro surfer Ford Archbold, surfboard shaper Tanner Prairie, et cetera. Are they loving what you guys are doing? It looks like you have huge support from your local community.
Ryan: That’s our whole thing. The best way to inspire people is for people that they look up to, to see they are utilizing it and it's benefitting their lives. We are just really lucky and super grateful to be in an area where we know a lot of rad people who are athletes and surfers and people that are open to it and are down to basically represent it and support it and show others how beneficial it can be. Everyone from Jiu-Jitsu guys to surfers… it’s really cool. I don’t think we would be where we are if we didn’t have all these people supporting us.
What have been some of your biggest challenges thus far?
Ryan: The hardest part for us has been the gnarly business side of things. It’s a learning process for us.
Robert: Distribution, getting it out there, sending it up the coast. That’s one of the reasons we are really excited to get into some other products, so we can reach as many people as possible. And with coffee, it’s just the nature of it — it’s in a glass bottle, it’s harder to ship, it breaks, it's perishable…
Ryan: There are some limitations on this product. There are easier things, but we love it.
Robert: We love the effect and the culture that coffee brings.
How has/will marijuana legalization affect your business?
Ryan: That’s the interesting thing. Honestly, I think it will only be positive for us as it will build awareness even more. It’s kind of nice being slightly detached. We only work with one dispensary; it’s not really our target market there, we are primarily in boutiques and surf shops. There is so much craziness going on around that [dispensaries] and it's hectic. We are kind of in our own little world, and everything that comes from that is only positive for us because there is a buzz happening around it. I think it’s just building awareness, and if people get turned on to it somehow and are like, “Oh, I can just go to this coffee shop or Daydream Surf Shop or whatever and pick it up” and they don’t have to go to this super hectic dispensary with a line around the block, it makes it a more intimate experience.
What are your plans for 2018, and any new potential products on the horizon?
Ryan: We are doing R&D on a few things. The goal in this is to create a platform, very experience-based. We want it to be something that people really want to involve in their lifestyle, and that is why we want to take it this lifestyle direction. We don’t just want to be a coffee company; we want to build a platform of a bunch of cool different products that people want to incorporate in their life. We are looking into different things on the apothecary side, topicals, CBD drops... it’s nice because it’s a little more versatile. People can add CBD to different things or take it straight, and it’s a little bit more medicinal-specific. It’s daily wellness, everyday maintenance. We are looking to do some collaborations with different people, have cool accessories, apparel stuff like that. We want to do a well-rounded sort of thing. I think this year we will have a couple sweet topicals and potentially ingestibles.
Where can we find Mary Joe?
Robert: Everywhere from San Diego, Costa Mesa, Long Beach, LA, San Francisco. Just in California right now. Stockists list is on our website. We are currently not selling straight to the consumer yet, but hopefully, we will soon.
** And in case you were wondering, this product will not get you high — it contains no THC, just CBD, which does not have the psychoactive properties of THC.