Earlier this week, California-based cannabis company Caliva announced its first steps into the CBD beverage market with Soul Grind, an infused cold brew coffee line launching later this month.
Speaking with BevNET, Caliva head of beverage Chris Cuvelier said Soul Grind is part of a broader portfolio strategy for CBD drinks. The company currently manufactures both THC and CBD products including cannabis flower, tinctures and edibles. But Soul Grind will be its first brand sold into mainstream retail channels.
“[With cannabis] we have different products that target different consumer groups at different price points, so with beverage we are following that same trend,” Cuvelier said. “We believe we can develop a portfolio of infused beverages that target different consumers at different need states.”
Cuvelier joined Caliva in May after the company acquired Zola, the plant-based beverage brand he founded, with the intention of using the brand’s infrastructure to build its own cannabis beverage arm. According to Cuvelier, who still manages the flagship Zola brand portfolio in his new role at Caliva, Soul Grind (and other future beverage innovations) will utilize Zola’s distribution network to quickly scale in California retail channels.
Soul Grind will launch this month with three unsweetened varieties — Black, Mexican Chocolate and Vanilla — each containing 10 mg of CBD and 100 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. can. The line will retail for $4.99 per unit, a price point that Cuvelier said will help position the brand as a high-end coffee that is still more affordable than many competing CBD beverages.
The name, Cuvelier said, is intended as a double entendre on coffee grinds and consumers’ “daily grind” of work-life balance. Caliva is aiming to target regular coffee drinkers and working professional consumers; in addition to retail, it will explore office and food service channels. The company, he added, intends to focus on “can-in-hand” sampling efforts to educate consumers on the functional benefits of CBD as a means of controlling the energy jolt from caffeine.
Soul Grind also gives Caliva flexibility in its channel retail strategy, Cuvelier said, noting many retailers are still testing shelf placements for CBD beverages. Soul Grind could ultimately compete within RTD coffees or with specialty CBD beverages, depending on how the category develops in retail as a regulatory framework for food and beverage is established.
Cuvelier, who said he had looked to develop and launch CBD products under the Zola brand in as early as 2016, noted that Caliva chose to launch its beverage platform with coffee due to the emerging popularity of CBD as an add-on ingredient option in cafes.
“When Zola was purchased by KarpReilly [and rebranded] in 2016, we saw early on that the new branding and positioning was perfect for hemp CBD,” he said. “As we saw the regulatory environment start to change, I built out a list of product categories we could go play in and always loved the idea that you could combine coffee with CBD.”
As Caliva continues to expand its beverage portfolio, Cuvelier said the company aims to leverage its expertise and authenticity within the cannabis industry to quickly scale brands and create consumer trust. However, he offered no timeline on when additional brands may launch.“We are in this for the long term,” Cuvelier said. “Caliva is making decisions today that will impact us five years from now, in terms of sustainable growth, in terms of trying to go to market, in terms of being able to service our customer through delivery direct-to-consumer as well as through our retail outlets. So we are making decisions today based on a long term strategy, were not one of those companies trying to come in during the green rush, make a quick buck and exit this category.”