Podcast

Talking About CBD Coffee With Alwan Mortada Of Ott Coffee (Podcast)

Talking About CBD Coffee With Alwan Mortada Of Ott Coffee (Podcast)
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

 
 
00:00 / 00:46:12
 
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Our podcast is back with a closer look at the joys of combining CBD and coffee, two of our favorite things.

First though, Ministry of Hemp podcast host Matt talks about the different types of CBD on the market, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate to help you understand what is in each and what they do. We recently published a guide to CBD spectrums that will help you understand more.

After that Matt has a conversation with Alwan Mortada, CEO of Ott Coffee from Austin, Texas. Alwan is a software engineer with a love of both coffee and CBD that lead him to combine them naturally to make a delicious and relaxing cup. They discuss the challenges of starting a new business, traveling the world to find quality beans and CBD, their shared love of good coffee, and Matt’s penchant for making fun of decaf.

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Send us your hemp questions and you might hear them answered on one of our Hemp Q&A episodes. Send your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, [email protected], or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417. Keep in mind, this phone number is for hemp questions only and any other inquiries for the Ministry of Hemp should be sent to [email protected]

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Our podcast guest, Alwan Mortada, pours a sample of his CBD coffee at a holiday market.
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Alwan Mortada combined his passion for coffee with his firsthand experience of the benefits of CBD in creating Ott Coffee, his Austin, Texas-based brand. (Photos by Paige Newton / Holiday Hemp Market)

CBD and Coffee Podcast: Complete Episode Transcript

Below you’ll find the complete transcript of episode 43 of the Ministry of Hemp Podcast, “CBD Coffee”:

Matt Baum:
I’m Matt Baum and this is the Ministry of Hemp Podcast brought to you by ministryofhemp.com, America’s leading advocate for hemp and hemp education.

Matt Baum:
Hey, it’s Matt Baum and you’re listening to the Ministry of Hemp Podcast, thanks for coming back. And today in the show, I’m going to be talking to a guy named Alwan Mortada and he is a software engineer living in Austin, Texas that has decided to start infusing coffee with CBD, which is very cool. We’ll get to that in a little bit but first, I thought it might be good to talk about the difference between full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products.

A little about CBD spectrums

Matt Baum:
The CBD market can be a strange place to navigate right now. Different companies have different things on their labels based on how many milligrams are in the bottle, how it’s made, whether this is an isolate, a broad spectrum, a full spectrum. It’s hard to know what is what, and I get it. There’s a lot of confusion there. This stems from the fact the FDA has yet to set down guidelines on how every state and every company should be selling, marketing and labeling CBD, but that’s coming. For now, know that there are three major types of CBD on the market. There’s full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate.

Matt Baum:
Let’s break that down real quick. An isolate sounds just like what it is. It is a tincture that isolates one aspect of CBD, whether that be CBDA, CBDG, CBDN. It isolates that one type of CBD that can be directed for all manner of things, whether it be sleep or pain relief, or anxiety relief. The idea behind an isolate is it isolates one type of CBD and that is what is in that bottle.

Matt Baum:
Now, a broad spectrum CBD is going to have just about everything, CBA, CBG, CBN, all of that stuff, but it’s not going to have THC. Which, is what a lot of people want because they don’t want to come up positive on drug test or maybe they just don’t want THC in their regimen, and that’s fine. But keep in mind, a broad spectrum CBD does not include everything that is in the hemp plant. THC, even in a very low level, is a part of it. So, if you want full spectrum, if you want all those benefits from the cannabis plant, you are looking for a full spectrum CBD tincture or gummy, or a pill. And that will be the closest you can get to the actual plant because it represents all of the cannabinoids, and included in those cannabinoids, like I mentioned, is THC.

Matt Baum:
Now keep in mind, this would be at the level of 0.3% or below to maintain legal standards. Now, the marijuana that a lot of people smoke these days is at 25 and 30% THC levels. So, 0.3% is so low that even the most sensitive of you out there, will not experience a sense of being high or stoned that you would get from smoking marijuana. With that said, there are tests out there that can pick up on this. So, if you are in a position, maybe you’re a police officer, a first responder, you’re in the military, and any THC is unacceptable, then you might need to look into a broad spectrum. That’s not to say that one is any better than any other. There are several opinions out there. The full benefits of full spectrum versus broad spectrum, versus isolate are still being investigated and the science is still coming in.

Matt Baum:
So for now, if you don’t need to worry about THC in your drug test or you’re not being drug-tested, by all means try a full spectrum. If THC is a problem, by all means use a broad spectrum. And if you know exactly what you’re going for, then yeah, use an isolate. All that we here at Ministry of Hemp ask, is that you know what you are taking, know where it’s coming from and know what is in it. We have a fantastic list of trusted brands that we have tried that are upfront with their lab results, over at ministryofhemp.com, and we have a fantastic guide that will help you choose full spectrum, broad spectrum or isolate. You can find it up on our site right now. I’ll have a link to it in the show notes. But the short version is, make sure you’re buying quality product, make sure you know what you’re buying it for and make sure it’s right for you.

Meet Alwan Mortada

Matt Baum:
My conversation on the show today is with Alwan Mortada. Alwan is a full stack software engineer. He works for Audi, which means he’s a smart guy. And he’s decided to devote some of his life to infusing CBD into coffee beans. As a software engineer, he drank a lot of coffee, I get that. I work in web hosting and I drink a ton myself. Alwan is the founder and proprietor of Ott Coffee. I spoke to him from his apartment in Austin, Texas. Here’s my conversation with Alwan Mortada.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. This is definitely a passion of mine that has been accruing interest over the past year and three months. Just about two or three months, a year and three months.

Matt Baum:
Okay.

Alwan Mortada:
And this came about and I just felt such a burning fire in my belly to do it, to go for it and jump in the water, so to speak.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Alwan Mortada:
And go after this beautiful idea that I has … Like, “Oh.” Like the bulb kind of lit in my head, I’m like, “Yes, that’s exactly what I have to do.” And [crosstalk 00:06:39]

Matt Baum:
So, did you start with coffee? Was that first or was this the thing where you said, “I want to infuse CBD into coffee, go.”

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. Honestly, I didn’t think twice about trying to come out with any other product other than a coffee-infused product. I didn’t think about tinctures or anything else. Even tea, I didn’t think about tea. I just thought about coffee. I’m like, “Yeah, I run on coffee almost daily, I love the taste.” I’m still a novice then. I was still a novice then I would say, just a regular coffee guy, so to speak. I mean, I didn’t really become a coffee enthusiast until I jumped into this endeavor and I took my belt, I call it, white belt trip, to Colombia. I’m still a white belt. I think I will always be a white belt in coffee. I went to Colombia to go drink as much coffee as I could possibly can. You got to distinguish …

Matt Baum:
It’s the place to do it.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, exactly. Distinguish what good coffee tastes like from bad coffee because if you don’t have a reference, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. You just drink anything.

Matt Baum:
Of course. So what’s your background? Did you have a coffee background before this or was this just purely born out of a passion for just loving coffee?

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have a definitely passion for entrepreneurship. I have tried different things, different entrepreneurship in the past. Wasn’t successful in the sense of financially but was successful in the fact that I failed. I failed gracefully, how about that?

Matt Baum:
Sure. That’s the only way to do it. You fail upwards, right?

Alwan Mortada:
I successfully failed. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. No, my background is actually in economics. My bachelor’s is in economics and business administration, automotive technology, and I jumped ships in 2015 to learn how to code. I came to the beautiful city of Austin, Texas, which is my home. And five years of persistence and learning how to code, the ABC of code, eventually after trials and tribulations, found myself at a very solid company working at Silvercar by Audi. And through my, I guess, my persistence, I mean, everything leads to the current moment. At one point of my life, I did consider very seriously to pick up professional boxing.

Matt Baum:
Really?

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. I started boxing-

Matt Baum:
Is that like a family thing or do you just love boxing?

Alwan Mortada:
No. Oh man, I just had a passion to challenge myself and that came through boxing because it’s definitely a challenging thing to go train. And not only that, to go face somebody who’s trying to rip your head off. Equal-

Matt Baum:
It’s about as competitive as it gets.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, absolutely. It’s very lonely in that circle. I carried that with me through my development career, that mindset of like, “Okay, I’m going to go train for a fight.” I mean, everything in life people grab different things and they use them to their advantage. And one of the things I grabbed was I’m going to treat everything in life as a boxing fight and I’m going to win.

From software engineer to CBD coffee

Matt Baum:
So, let me ask you, did you go find a coffee sensei or something and trained the same way where you’re just like, “Now, this is the new thing I’m dropping myself into. I’m just going for it.”

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great question. In my early days when I first moved to Austin, there was a micro roaster/coffee shop that I always went there and learned how to code. Like spent hours, drank a bunch of coffee. It was great coffee. Barrett’s micro roasters. They’re North Austin. It looks small, cute coffee shop, like local neighborhood type coffee shop. And in the back, there’s a small micro roastery. The roaster, his name is Travis. Travis has more than 28 years of roasting experience. He’s a master at his craft. I didn’t know him then, I just approached him when I was like, “Okay. Where can I go … I need a roaster, I need somebody who knows coffee well to come out with a supreme premium coffee roast.” That’s one of the players in the team that I have to kind of put together in order to come out with an exquisite product.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Alwan Mortada:
I just knocked on his door and he’s like, “Okay. Let me think about it.” I came the next day, he’s like, “Okay. I thought about it. Okay. Let’s do this.”

Matt Baum:
That’s awesome.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah.

Matt Baum:
That’s awesome.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, it was definitely a great match like that. And also, I mean, as I got to know Travis and he got to know me, we figured that, man, we have a lot of common values. Taking care of your neighbor is definitely a good one, being a conscious individual in the society and in planet Earth right now. One of the small tiny things is he’s selling iron straws or metal straws. I’m like, “Okay, that shows that we care about the environment enough to sell metal straws instead of regular straws, plastic straws that are served at the coffee shop.” So, small things like that and eventually we were like, “Okay, we are a match.” So, we started this partnership. I basically roast at his facility and then infuse it myself now, but prior, I was using a dear friend of mine, who’s actually a petrochemical engineer who has a background in food science and chemistry, to help me with the best ways to infuse those, and of course test at the end.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Alwan Mortada:
That was a whole-

Matt Baum:
We’ll get to that in just a minute. I want to focus on the coffee thing for a minute here because I’m trying to follow through a line of thinking, if you will. Because I mean, like I said, I love coffee and I’m a bit of a coffee snub. You sent me some coffee, it was very good and I very much enjoyed it and-

Alwan Mortada:
Thank you. Thank you so much.

Matt Baum:
… I’m going to beg you for some more when we get done with this. But where does the thinking come in? The reason why I have you on the show, obviously, is because you’re infusing your coffee with CBD. Where does that thinking come in where you look at a drink that, like we were joking about before we got started, I used to wake up every morning and get going and focus. And sometimes I need the lightning, I need to bring the real caffeine in. Where does the idea to infuse that with CBD, which from my experience, kind of takes me in the other way, settles things down, balances things out? What’s the thinking there?

Discovering the benefits of cannabinoids

Alwan Mortada:
Right. And it’s definitely … I run on coffee. In the morning, I definitely … As a software engineer, I need to be up and my brain has to be on fire. There’s so many things like data models or different associations between different objects and arrays, and et cetera, that I have to kind of figure out, and kind of translate a business problem into computer language. So, I did notice that when I do drink regular coffee, I get alert but I’m almost overly alert. Hyper-focused, is what I call it, where …

Alwan Mortada:
And being in a software or you don’t have to be a software to be honest with you. With the age of technology right now with the million messages that you kind of get on Facebook, Instagram, email, text message, your grandma, whatever, it’s very easy to take your attention away from an email that you’re writing, a small article that you’re reading, a code that you’re trying to write as well, or a problem that you’re trying to solve. So, I started mixing my coffee with some CBD and so I had great results. The only thing that I didn’t like is the fact that the oily taste from the …

Matt Baum:
Yeah, like a tincture.

Alwan Mortada:
From the tincture, would kind of linger there and every tincture now have different flavors and stuff like that so you lose the taste of coffee. That’s on one hand. On another hand, I’ve always been a believer in cannabis and hemp. I think cannabis and hemp is the plant of heaven, to be honest with you. That’s personally thinking. My mom was, thank God, a cancer patient that survived and she had breast cancer in 2009. And I’ve seen her suffer throughout her journey, taking pharmaceuticals, painkillers, and it just made her a bit of a zombie. Like where is my fun mom that used to joke with me? On one hand, the effect of chemo and everything else, is just horrendous and then-

Matt Baum:
Right. It can be just as bad as the disease, I mean.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, exactly. Absolutely. And you add on top of it, all the painkillers, you’re left with probably a codependency there after the whole thing is done.

Matt Baum:
Absolutely. Oh, no question. No question.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. So, I used to go to Colorado for a good while every other year or every period of time. I would go snowboarding and man, it was a treat going to the dispensaries down there. I’m like, “Wow, this is amazing. Let me smell this and let me smell this, and let me smell that. And I want to take this.” So, I would always get her … And come back with some gummies. And gummies, especially the half-and-half, like the half THC, half CBD gummies, worked great because she never really liked to get stoned. And some of the gummies out there that are THC only, they do have an effect. They’re specific to their need but most of the time they’d get you kind of stoned. But the CBD and THC ones, even on me, always had a nice feeling. Like I’m not stoned but I’m super relaxed yet I don’t feel like I’m hot out of my mind, you know?

Matt Baum:
Right.

Alwan Mortada:
I can still focus, I can still write emails, I can still just … But I forget about any pain or aches, or joint pain, or muscle aches that I have. So, my mom loved those and she would take them to sleep and before she goes to sleep, it helps her with her sleep or … And she wakes up often at night. So, I’ve seen how cannabis touched my old mother’s life. I take care of her in a lot of ways and I’m like, there’s no way for me to be like, “Oh, that’s a …” I can’t condemn it. I’m a believer.

Matt Baum:
Sure. You’ve seen it in action. I mean, how can you?

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, absolutely.

Matt Baum:
Yeah.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, exactly. How can you? Of course, I would want to wish this kind of medicine on any person, let alone my mom. Any person who’s suffering from any kind of pains or aches. Actually, right here I have a letter from one of my customers, right here.

Matt Baum:
Oh nice. Handwritten and everything. Look at that. Yeah.

Alwan Mortada:
Handwritten.

Matt Baum:
You don’t see a lot of those anymore.

Alwan Mortada:
No. This guy’s awesome. His name is [Lewis 00:20:02] Salm, S-A-L-M. He’s like, “Al, thank you so much for your kindness and fairness. I’ll gladly pay $100 for the coffee. I don’t have much but I’ll gladly give since you will. This stuff works miracles for my chronic pain gastric problems. After 20 years, I think I may be able to quit opioids. I have told several CBD stores about your product so you may hear from them. Thanks again and I hope I can buy from you in the future. P.S., my phone won’t send texts.”

Matt Baum:
That’s amazing. So, you draw this through line from seeing your mother suffer and benefit from CBD to the same benefits that you experience from coffee, doing your job, working, coding and whatnot, and there’s just a natural cross basically, that you see, more or less.

Creating a CBD coffee brand

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. Absolutely. I saw that cross … As a market opportunity, I saw this cross when I was doing some research online early 2019. And I was doing some research looking what the trends are because I still have a very good tendency and one of my hobbies is to look at economic forums and read some articles about what’s trending in the economy. And of course CBD was really hot. Some people are throwing crazy numbers out there, what the projections would be in 2023.

Matt Baum:
Oh, it’s insane. Yeah.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. It is insane. Now, I mean, how much I believe that is another question. But as I was looking at the industry, an evolving industry, I noticed that there’s one area that I had a passion for and there’s not many people with their flag in the ground. And I knew if I was to jump in this, this has to be tiptop quality. Like the coffee and the cannabis has to be given. The quality of those two ingredients have to be given. And what is my personal purpose behind the whole endeavor is to be a lifestyle company that is for purpose and giving back to your local community first and then the outside community. So, Austin first because I live in Austin. I would love to give back in my own community. And then as I grow, I start to give back in other communities. And also to be environmentally-conscious. There’s no doubt about having recyclable bags, being organic.

Matt Baum:
I assume those practices are going through to the growing of both the coffee and the hemp for the CBD.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. Also, the same deal goes with the hemp too. Yeah. So, in January 19th, 2019 is when the idea hit my head and I decided to start doing it. I decided that year that I need to get my white belt in coffee so I traveled to Colombia. That was [crosstalk 00:23:41]

Matt Baum:
Is your coffee coming from Colombia?

Alwan Mortada:
Yes. My coffee is Colombian. Yeah. Now, we’re not big to the point that we’re importing containers, I would love to be at some point, but we do pick our farms that I went and visited on my trip through an importer, a broker basically, that kind of have relationships with these farms and-

Matt Baum:
So you can make sure everything’s fair trade and everything’s done the right way.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, absolutely. So the coffee is fair trade and organic though I can’t claim that because the facility that I roast in has to also be certified. And there’s certain procedures that we have to go through that we’re still going through that and we’re still attempting that.

Matt Baum:
This is all very new. I mean, like you said, 2019 you had this idea. It’s only about a year ago, from my math.

Alwan Mortada:
That’s very true, yeah. Yeah, exactly. So we can do step by step, slowly but surely. One of the things that I learned from my software job is how to get something out of the door, an MVP. One of the previous failures that I had was I got stuck on the design phase. I got stuck on the design’s phase for too long and I missed the train. The bird just landed just till that short amount of time and then flew away. This time around, I actually took the shot right away. I was like, “All right, you can do it.” If you go to the Instagram, Ott Coffee on Instagram, I purposefully left the earliest bag that I came up with. It was just a plain old bag with a sticker on it. Not even a sticker, actually it was a stamp. I used a stamp.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, save some money, right?

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, save some money. Like, let’s try it out. And the first person who bought that bag from me was my coworker. He bought a bag $40, a bag’s worth, and I’m like, “Wow, all right. I think you have a market.” [crosstalk 00:25:57]

Matt Baum:
It starts with one. It starts with your first sale. That’s how it goes.

Alwan Mortada:
And I thought to myself, “If every company in Austin had one person to buy this coffee, I mean, you have a market.”

Matt Baum:
Yeah. Definitely. So what’s your market look like? Actually, before we get into that, I’m sorry, where is the CBD coming from? We know where the coffee comes from, where do you get your CBD from?

Alwan Mortada:
The CBD currently comes from Boulder, Colorado.

Matt Baum:
Okay.

Alwan Mortada:
All organic hemp, lab-tested of course. A veteran-owned company, Extract Labs out of Boulder, Colorado is where I get my THC-free hemp oil and less than … The THC-free is a broad spectrum, for people who don’t know, does not have any THC but has other cannabinoids. And then a full spectrum under 0.3% THC that does have CBD, CBN and CBG at different ratios but mainly the main ingredients is the CBD and less than 0.3% THC. Which, works great for what is known in the industry as the entourage effect of all these cannabinoids working together, even in small tiny doses. And that’s what I infuse the decaf with and that’s what makes the decaf so special.

Matt Baum:
Okay. We were talking about that earlier because you were drinking decaf and I was teasing you a little bit saying like, “What’s the point?”

Alwan Mortada:
What’s the point? No, I completely agree with you. But now there’s definitely a value [crosstalk 00:27:36]

Matt Baum:
And now you add something like this, there’s a point to drinking decaf all of a sudden.

Alwan Mortada:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, for sure.

Matt Baum:
You’re getting something out of it.

Alwan Mortada:
You’re getting a delicious taste for sure and you’re getting all the relaxation of the cannabinoids. And I personally love to put some honey in it so I get some nice, sweet taste.

Matt Baum:
I may have to stop making fun of decaf coffee now. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

Alwan Mortada:
I think I might have converted you.

Matt Baum:
You may have.

Alwan Mortada:
I’m going to have to send you a bag so you can try it yourself and tell me what you think. I think-

Infusing CBD into coffee beans

Matt Baum:
Let me ask you, earlier you said you were experimenting with it and you were literally putting tinctures straight into your coffee but you didn’t like the oily thing. How did you get past that? How do you infuse CBD into coffee without that oil thing? Because we know that it carries best with an oil and a binder, and all that, so how does it work in the coffee?

Alwan Mortada:
Great question. I had to go back to high school chemistry. I went and started hitting the books. It’s something I’m passionate about. I found a natural tendency to go and learn everything I could on the internet.

Matt Baum:
You can’t do any of this the easy way. I like that.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. I mean-

Matt Baum:
Why hire somebody when I can learn?

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. Absolutely. That’s the attitude, is that you do everything you can, you read a book. If you couldn’t figure it out 100%, then you may ask somebody, “[inaudible 00:29:08] do you know anybody who knows about this subject? Let me hit them up.” If you don’t get any information there, then you may hire somebody, which I eventually did. I started with a chemistry teacher. I put an ad on Indeed, I’m like, “Hey, I need a chemistry teacher here, I need somebody with a chemistry background.”

Matt Baum:
That is great.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. And I hired a good fella who is a chemistry teacher, who has a very good background in organic chemistry and lab testing. A lot of our early stage tests happened in my kitchen. Yeah. I had an air fryer that simulated a roasting machine in the sense of the temperature, it went all the way up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. I would put the coffee in there for a period of time and then I’d add different forms of cannabinoids. Maybe some isolate mixed with MCT oil and then add that to the coffee. And at the time-

Matt Baum:
See what survives basically.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, exactly. I’d had different mixtures, different experiments like that. And then I bought a couple of cannabinoid test kits online. They sell them nowadays for like 130 bucks, that gives you six tests. So you can have six different infusion ways and then you can test them-

Matt Baum:
With six different results.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, different results. Exactly. And then once we started getting some kind of good results, the challenge was about dosing. How can you dose the coffee appropriately because you have to do … That’s part of the oath that you have to your customers.

Matt Baum:
You’re getting what I’m telling you that I’m selling you.

Alwan Mortada:
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. And basically, that’s why every bag has a QR code on the back so … I mean, it’s an industry standard at this point but I think every CBD cannabis product should have a QR code so the customer can have like, “Okay. I know what I’m getting exactly and it’s certified by another person.”

Matt Baum:
Independent results, definitely.

Alwan Mortada:
Independent result. Yeah, for sure. So, we got some good results then my personal friend, who’s a petrochemical engineer, [inaudible 00:31:55]. He’s a good friend of mine who owns an oil company. So, as I’m talking to him and picking his brain back and forth, we came to the realization at that point, after more experimentation, is that … Of course, coffee has oil in it and-

Matt Baum:
Yeah, naturally.

Alwan Mortada:
Natural oil, exactly. And so, some coffee has maybe 13% all the way up to 20% oil, so that’s the basic or the biggest factor of how much a certain bean going to absorb versus the other. After knowing that, we decided, all right, let’s experiment some more with a small batch and try to infuse cannabinoids straight into the bean without adding any-

Matt Baum:
Just using the coffee oil that’s present in the bean, more or less.

Alwan Mortada:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then we chose a natural hemp distillate, the full spectrum or the broad spectrum, to use that. Now, the process is a bit complicated. It’s a bit of proprietary information [crosstalk 00:33:21]

Matt Baum:
Yeah, I know. I don’t want you to give away any company secrets or …

Alwan Mortada:
No. No, not at all. I had to learn it the hard way for sure. It was definitely a lot of fun but nobody extended the hat. I did ask some people in the industry, which is unfortunate actually, I didn’t get any help. I had to figure it on my own, but it’s part of the journey. Like, you don’t know something-

Matt Baum:
Well, you’re also kind of the pioneer here too. I mean, you’re one of the first guys doing this. As far as I’ve seen, there’s not a lot of people out there doing this so this is undiscovered country, I mean.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. There’s a couple of people … In terms of the nation, there’s not a lot of people doing it, that’s for sure.

Matt Baum:
No.

Alwan Mortada:
I’m very fortunate, I’m very grateful to be one of the pioneers, amongst a couple other companies that are doing it and-

Matt Baum:
So now basically you are choosing a bean that is higher in oil because it accepts the properties of the CBD distillate that you’re using naturally.

Alwan Mortada:
Right.

Matt Baum:
That’s amazing.

Alwan Mortada:
It’s soluble. It absorbs, it binds with the oil.

Matt Baum:
It’s almost like it was meant to do it.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, exactly. It’s pretty much like a sponge, you know what I mean? It just absorbs it and just tucks it in.

Matt Baum:
Instead of forcing it in there, you’re just sort of introducing it and it goes, “Yeah, okay great.”

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. That way … I don’t know how the other competitors, how they infuse their beans but we definitely do not use any binding agents.

Matt Baum:
That’s amazing.

Alwan Mortada:
That’s against what I think is a natural process of an infusion.

Matt Baum:
You’re just basically forcing something into something else at that point.

Alwan Mortada:
Right. You’re adding another chemical, which is not usually the nature of the chemical bonds. When it comes to organic chemistry, you know how certain molecules bind with each other. They usually do it either naturally or in the middle between those two, there’s a binding molecule that kind of hooks them all together.

The future of Ott Coffee

Matt Baum:
So let me ask you, this is very new and Ott Coffee is still on the up and up, what’s next? What can we expect next from you?

Alwan Mortada:
What’s next is definitely … Right now we have the productivity series. It’s a caffeinated Colombian medium roast that will take away all the anxiety, all the heart-racing, all the jitters-

Matt Baum:
I think that’s what you sent me and I very much enjoyed it.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. Exactly. But it will leave you alert, calm, focused yet still mellow.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, I didn’t feel like I had the lightning, the anxiety. Like that coffee, my heart’s beating a little too fast. Yeah.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Matt Baum:
I really liked it.

Alwan Mortada:
But you still feel kind of like … Still alert.

Matt Baum:
Still lifted, still aware. Yeah. Still very much awake.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, a little aware. Definitely. Yeah. It definitely helps me a lot with my ADHD, especially if I drink regular coffee as a developer.

Matt Baum:
Same here. I think we’re very similar guys here.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. It doesn’t need a lot to stimulate that ADHD with regular coffee.

Matt Baum:
So where do we go to find the coffee right now? Where do I go to get it?

Alwan Mortada:
In Austin, there’s a bunch of places that I’m in. Wheatsville Co-op is a big one, Thomas Market is another, Joy Organics is another.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, Joy Organics is great. I know them. They’re good people.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. Joy Organics, they’re a quality brand. They’re a quality store and a brand. Danielle is a dear friend of mine. I actually approached her in the beginning stages where I was like, “Hey Danielle, I watched your dad in a YouTube show and he’s like, ‘Go to market ASAP.'” So I’m like, I owe it to him [crosstalk 00:37:26]

Matt Baum:
So, if I’m not in Austin, how do I get ahold of your coffee?

Alwan Mortada:
Ottcoffee.com is …

Matt Baum:
Ottcoffee.com.

Alwan Mortada:
… our website where it’s under reconstruction. It should be done within three weeks, I hope. I’d love to have a … It’s going to have our productivity series, our relaxation series. I’d like to add in the works, our creativity series, which will probably be a one-to-one ratio between CBD and CBG, which is another cannabinoid known to be the mother of cannabinoids.

Matt Baum:
That’s very cool.

Alwan Mortada:
It’s a bit of chemically-altered and I think other cannabinoids stemmed from it. And correct if I’m wrong, I’m still a novice, I’ll always be a novice.

Matt Baum:
Hey man, I’m still a novice too. I’m just a podcast host here, all right?

Alwan Mortada:
Okay, all right. But we learn from each other so …

Matt Baum:
Yeah, that’s the idea.

Alwan Mortada:
Correct me if I had a misinformation here or there.

Matt Baum:
No one’s going to barbecue for that, don’t worry. They’ll come after me, not you, don’t worry.

Alwan Mortada:
Okay. All right. It’s out in the open now.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, there you go.

Alwan Mortada:
I can’t hold it back. Yeah. And there’s the relaxation series, a decaf full spectrum which has CBD, CBN, CBG and less than 0.3% THC. It’s delicious and it’s been my favorite for a while now.

Matt Baum:
I look forward to checking that out. That sounds amazing.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah. We are exploring cold brew at this point as well.

Matt Baum:
I do love cold brew. Ooh, I love cold brew.

Alwan Mortada:
I mean, why not? Like, why not?

Matt Baum:
Sure. Yeah.

Alwan Mortada:
Especially that we have a delicious in-house brew. So, we’re in the R&D right now, research and development. I refuse to go out to market unless the product that I had, met the most highest standards of quality, taste and authenticity basically.

Matt Baum:
That’s the only way to do it. Yeah.

Alwan Mortada:
This is the only way to do it. You’re absolutely right.

Matt Baum:
Especially when you’re trying to build a reputation. I mean, you have to have a reputation to build a reputation.

Alwan Mortada:
Absolutely. Yeah. I think you have to have some self-integrity.

Matt Baum:
Absolutely.

Alwan Mortada:
So, that’s what I definitely strive to live up to, to be honest with you.

Matt Baum:
Al, I am super excited to try this stuff that, again, I’m going to beg you to send me here. And I look forward to the website kicking up so people, I assume, will be able to subscribe, maybe in weekly shipments and whatnot, if you don’t live in Austin.

Alwan Mortada:
Yes, yes. That’s definitely in the works.

Matt Baum:
Very cool.

Alwan Mortada:
A subscription model is the way to go. A lot of people buy it from me often. It’s a bit tough right now because you’ve been … eBay doesn’t let you sell on their website, Amazon doesn’t let you sell on their website but I have a lot of customers that with the small, short period of time that I was able to sell it on eBay, they would always hit me back up, hit me back up and message me.

Matt Baum:
That’s awesome.

Alwan Mortada:
And I felt very grateful to be making somebody’s day that much better.

Matt Baum:
But that’s why you need that site so you can control that, so you’re taking it out of their hands. Now it’s your business man.

Alwan Mortada:
Yeah, exactly. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. It’s my business now.

Matt Baum:
I look forward to that, definitely. I want to thank you for coming on the show. Thank you for talking to everybody, thank you for being who you are and making fantastic coffee and infusing it with CBD, which is so cool. Seriously man, thank you so much for joining us.

Alwan Mortada:
No, I really appreciate the opportunity to help me voice this new beautiful thing, mixing coffee and cannabinoids in general because it’s a special thing. The coffee plant is definitely a special thing and the hemp cannabis plant is also a special thing.

Matt Baum:
And when you find something like that where you take the coffee plant and you take the cannabis plant and they just seem to intertwine and work, that’s amazing.

Alwan Mortada:
Well, the crazy thing about this Matt is that …. The crazy thing is that you think about the wheel of coffee, the Ethiopian bean, the Colombian bean, the Guatemalan bean, and all the different flavors you can get out of that. And of course, you have the hemp or cannabis, you also have such a wide variety of colors that you are like, “Okay, I want this to mix and match and experiment.” And eventually come out with a supreme product. And that’s why we have only the productivity series that is ready available to sell and relaxation series right now. We have only two lines of our product because it’s not in the amount of products that you’re ready to sell, it’s in the quality of them.

Matt Baum:
Right, exactly.

Alwan Mortada:
I see other companies that may have seven or six different blends but they’re just extra options. Sometimes you confuse the consumer by having so many other options, but give them like two options or three options that are exquisite and they’ll never look back.

Matt Baum:
Not to mention the fact that you did the hard work and you found the right bean and you found the right mixture, and you made sure they work together.

Alwan Mortada:
It’s all about that bean.

Matt Baum:
That’s what it’s all about man.

Alwan Mortada:
That’s true. It’s so true.

Matt Baum:
I appreciate you doing the hard work buddy.

Alwan Mortada:
Of course, of course. Yeah. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.

Matt Baum:
Thank you.

Final thoughts from Matt

Matt Baum:
I really like what Alwan had to say about how he found two plants that wanted to work together and the respect that a lot of people have in this business for the hemp plant, not just for the CBD that it makes, but for the plant itself and how it grows in nature and how it interacts to other things. It’s really impressive and it’s really cool. And it’s nice to talk to somebody like Alwan who has taken what he’s learned in another field and applied it to coffee and CBD. We’ll have links to his new website for Ott Coffee, so you can check it out as well right here in the show notes.

Matt Baum:
That brings us to the end of another episode of the Ministry of Hemp Podcast. Thank you for listening. And next time on the show, I’m super excited to talk to Eloise Theisen. She is the president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association. So, be sure to check that one out. It’s a fantastic conversation. If you have questions about this episode or any hemp questions at all, call me at 402-819-4894 and leave a message. And myself and Kit O’Connell, the editor-in-chief of ministryofhemp.com, might answer your questions right here on one of our Q&A shows.

Matt Baum:
Speaking of ministryofhemp.com, check out the new post we have about Dr Hemp Me, it’s Ireland’s most popular brand of CBD. We don’t get to review a whole bunch of UK CBD brands so this is certainly a fun one. And if that’s not enough, you can follow us on any social media you’ll find Ministry of Hemp, @ministryofhemp of backslash Ministry of Hemp. And if you dig what you hear on this show and you dig what we do on the site, please check us out on patreon/ministryofhemp. Any donation makes you a Ministry of Hemp insider and gets you access to podcast extras, early interviews and all kinds of other stuff, not to mention the fact that it helps us spread the good word of hemp.

Matt Baum:
Huge thanks to everybody that’s already downloading. If you want to subscribe to this show, you can do it on any of your favorite podcast apps or of course Apple Podcast. Here at the Ministry of Hemp, we believe that an accessible world is a better world for everyone. So, you will find a complete written transcript for this show in the notes as well. Now, I got to get out of here and I like to end the show the same way every time by saying, remember to take care of yourself, take care of others and make good decisions, will you? This is Matt Baum with the Ministry of Hemp signing off.

Photo: A composite image of our podcast guest, Alwan Mortada, pouring his Ott CBD coffee at the hemp holiday market, against a backdrop of a photo of coffee beans.
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Matt Baum has been hosting, producing, and editing podcasts for almost ten years. He's been a touring musician, chef, journalist, and avid comic book fan for as long as he can remember. Currently, Matt lives in Omaha Nebraska with his wife Kacie and pugs Mable and Bobo.

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