By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 02, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of Fairwinds Mfg

Remember when the only buzz you expected out of your coffee was from caffeine? (And maybe, if you were feeling extra loose, a little Irish whiskey or Baileys?) Well, America’s increasingly insatiable appetite for marijuana is turning THC coffee into the latest fad, with one growing business even suggesting that they’re using coffee king Starbucks as their business model.

Producing pot coffee ain’t cheap. “The profit margin is pretty low,” James Hull told Forbes in an interview. Hull produces Catapult marijuana-infused coffee in Washington. Thanks to his high-quality standards (for both their coffee and their pot), a slew of state regulations and the fact that marijuana is still illegal for federal tax purposes, Catapult isn’t making Hull rich, despite cups running about $9 to $10. He’d like to charge more: “The coffee is selling well at $9 to $10, but I don’t think people are ready to pay $13 to $14 for a cup of coffee.”

But then Hull points out he might have some hope, citing a business that also reinvented how people think about the price of coffee: “Starbucks got people who were paying 50 cents for a cup of coffee to pay $5, so you never know.”

Catapult’s desire to mimic Starbucks doesn’t end there, according to the Forbes article. “We aim for consistent, high-quality coffee, attractively labeled and presented. We want to be the premium line, and we always want to provide significant value to our customers,” he said of the comparison. “Starbucks is the first name that comes to mind when people want to go grab a cup of coffee…. Our goal is for consumers to think of Catapult when they want cannabis-infused coffee.”

Hull says he distributes to 30 stores in Washington, but for now, he has one giant hurdle that would prevent him from truly reaching his Starbucks goal. Despite growing legality across the nation, it’s still illegal for marijuana to be shipped across state lines, so taking Catapult global presents a bit of a logistical challenge.

But who knows. One day maybe we’ll see a Catapult open across the street from another Catapult. That’s how we’ll know Hull’s dream came true.