Hemp coffee is a mixture of hemp seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant and coffee beans, which are typically organically grown. People might drink this beverage for its nutty flavor and health benefits of omega fatty acids. Hemp coffee typically contains very minute amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in the marijuana plant that produces a hallucinogenic high. Hemp comes from the seeds and stalks of the plant, while the leaves and flower buds contain THC.
It might be illegal in some areas to purchase, produce, or use this coffee and other products containing hemp. Drug regulations in the U.S., for example, prohibit any trace amounts of THC in substances that enter the body. Most hemp seeds harvested for human consumption, including those used in hemp coffee, contain less than 0.3 percent THC. This amount is considered too small to register on standard drug tests. The THC level in the leaves and buds of cannabis typically range from four to 20 percent.
Hemp coffees use sterilized hemp seeds, which contain 44 percent oil, along with fiber, significant amino acids, vitamin E complexes, and protein. The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in hemp seed is considered optimal for good health. These seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid and stearidonic acid, which might improve skin conditions.
These healthy amino acids might reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing the accumulation of plaque in arteries. Studies also show they might ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and reduce symptoms of bipolar disorders. Amino acids are vital to proper development of infants.
Proponents of hemp coffee say the drink is less acidic than regular coffee, making it easier on the stomach. Some people drink hemp coffee to reduce heart palpitations and jittery nerves that might come from the caffeine in other coffees. Other people report an absence of headaches when switching to hemp coffee.
Producers of hemp coffee typically blend hemp seeds with organic coffee beans, often grown in shady areas. These sustainable plantations provide bird habitat, while falling leaves enrich the soil. Birds living in these trees eat many of the insects that might create a need for pesticides on plantations where coffee beans are grown in the sun.
In the past, most coffee beans were grown in the shade. New varieties of coffee beans emerged in the 1970s that produced larger yields in the sun. Plantation owners began cutting existing trees to plant the new varieties of coffee, leading to potential soil erosion and depletion of nutrients.
Most organically grown coffee comes from Guatemala, Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. Hemp coffee made from beans grown in Costa Rica, Brazil, and Colombia usually contains coffee beans grown in sunny areas. They may or may not have been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides during the growing season.