Category: Skunkworks

story pitch: Blue Bottle’s former head roaster gives coffee-science research the old college try at UC Davis

Juliet Han

By Ed Murrieta 

DAVIS — At the University of California campus where coffee beats sex and beer as the most popular undergraduate elective, last month’s news that Blue Bottle Coffee, the third-wave specialty roaster that’s owned by world’s largest food and beverage company, has moved all of its West Coast production from Oakland to a state-of-the-art facility 12 miles down the road from this agricultural college was preceded by another Yolo County coffee coup:

UC Davis’ Coffee Center has hired Juliet Han, Blue Bottle’s former head roaster, to manage the undergraduate coffee laboratory, where she’s already roasted the center’s first batches of beans that will be used in first-of-their-kind research projects the university hopes will do for coffee what UC Davis’ industry-supported viticulture and brewing programs do for wine and beer.

My story will report on UC Davis’ Coffee Center —  founded in 2016 with a quarter-million-dollar grant from Peet’s Coffee to study post-harvest aspects of coffee production, from on-the-farm processing to roasting to brewing to sensory analysis — and profile Juliet Han, the center’s first hire who oversees its flagship chemical engineering course, The Design of Coffee, a hands-on elective which attracts more students than Human Sexuality or Introduction to Brewing and Beer.

story pitch: San Francisco’s Acclaimed Ritual Brews Unique Partnership for Coffee Service at West Hollywood Cannabis Restaurant

Story Pitch By Ed Murrieta

Ritual Coffee, the San Francisco roaster and local retail chain that partnered with cannabis beverage pioneer Somatik in 2017 to create a THC cold brew sold in state-licensed cannabis stores, is creating the coffee program for an upcoming West Hollywood restaurant and cannabis lounge — Ritual’s first Southern California presence beyond wholesale accounts and the first time an established commercial brand will be featured in a cannabis businesses licensed to serve non-infused food and beverages. I’ll report from Ritual in San Francisco, interviewing roasters and menu developers about selecting and roasting coffee for pairing with cannabis — the classic counterculture combination of dueling, moderating effects — and sampling beans and strains that will be sold and served at Aeon Botanika, the West Hollywood restaurant and cannabis lounge scheduled to open in Spring 2020, featuring plant-based cuisine, superfood smoothies, cold-pressed juices, artisan tea and coffee.

West Hollywood Abuzz: American Amsterdam in Southern California

WeHo Radically Mainstreams Cannabis Consumption with Lounges and Restaurants

City Leaders Envision Buzzy Entertainment Enclave Popular with Locals and Tourists Becoming the State’s Legal Cannabis Destination

By Ed Murrieta

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Viewed from Google maps, this buzzy enclave fits in the urban heart of Southern California like a jagged-edged puzzle piece abutting three other famous cities: Los Angeles, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Viewed, smelled and tasted from street-level, West Hollywood fits your imaginary movie images of American Amsterdam.

Nearby Venice may have been up for the part with its picturesque canals and picaresque dispensaries, but West Hollywood, historically friendly to vice and alternative lifestyles, earns today’s leading role in mainstreaming cannabis culture and commerce.

Comprising just 1.8 square miles of Los Angeles County land, West Hollywood is home to 34,000 people and 40 approved cannabis business licenses, from delivery services to dispensaries to lounges to the world’s first licensed and regulated restaurant serving food and cannabis. West Hollywood estimates weed tourism will bring in about $6 million in tax revenue annually.

“We think this will drive more hotel nights in the city, that it will drive more people to come into the city, to go to our restaurants and bars, and patronize our other businesses,” West Hollywood’s weed czar John Leonard said.

Lowell Cafe recently opened, serving non-infused cuisine and menus of cannabis flowers, joints and extracts. Other cannabis restaurants in the works include Budberry, a garden cafe with a koi pond that’s scheduled to open on Valentine’s Day,and Aeon Botanika, a 7,000-square-foot wellness-shop / superfoods cafe / cannabis boutique / Moroccan-themed cannabis tea lounge / cannabis-enhanced acupuncture spa that is scheduled to open in the spring.



Tokechella Is California’s Smoking-Hot Desert Cannabis Tourist Destination

Massive Cultivation, Most Dispensaries Per Capita
and Cannabis-Friendly Resorts and Rentals
Make Palm Springs, Cathedral City and
Desert Hot Springs a Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot World


It’s high season in the Coachella Valley — for tourism and for pot.

Now’s the time to combine them both.

If you want to visit California next week for a taste of historic cannabis legalization in the Golden State, the Coachella Valley — in particular the resort-town cluster of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs —  is one of the best places to plan a cannabis getaway for Opening Day of legal pot sales, better than other California cannabis travel destinations like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, all lagging behind the Jan. 1 start date.

A longtime playground for movie stars, mobsters, sunseekers and alternative lifestyles 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley has the key elements intrepid cannabis travelers need to ring in California’s new legal era:

  • massive local cultivation;
  • most dispensaries per capita set to sell flowers, edibles and concentrates to adults age 21 and over;
  • cannabis-friendly lodgings, including two cannabis-friendly (and clothing-optional) hot springs resorts and a colorful mountain hotel with a vape-friendly cabin and smoke-friendly grounds;
  • and cannabis-fueled stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park.

Tokechella’s a pot, pot, pot, pot world for sure.

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