Beginning around nine in the morning, people gather at a kickback session on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland with other young professional cannabis enthusiasts in the mood for a cup of coffee.
Cannabis and coffee are a classic combination of focus and active yet chill energy. They make for a great way to start the day, something industry insiders have known for a long time, says Amber Senter, CEO of MAKR House and founder of Landrace Origins.
“It’s a space for people to come and have a very leisurely morning,” Senter said.
Those gathered share coffees, have a bite to eat and get their day started in that tried-and-true, cannabis-plus-coffee way. While no cannabis is for sale, sampling is available, as tends to happen with weed. Or a person could just coordinate a well-timed delivery from their favorite cannabis delivery service.
While Senter first established MAKR House to create local demand for cannabis products, her newfound passion is coffee. Her Landrace Origins coffee brand sources fair-trade beans from partners around the world.
“In Columbia, El Salvador, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Senter said, “we’ve got real relationships with our supply chain. There are no big companies involved in what we do, period, across all of our supply chains, whether cannabis or coffee.”
Landrace Origins, in business for two years, works to maintain a global network that starts at home, so the focus always comes back to the basics.
“I’m working on making sure that the way we grow the company is sustainable and within our values,” Senter said. “I’m constantly highlighting people throughout our supply chain that we really want to work with because, as we know, we vote with our dollar, and that’s no different in business.”
“I’m a queer Black woman that’s a veteran of the United States Coast Guard, and raising money is incredibly difficult,” she added. “Of all the venture capital, 0.006% goes to Black women. That’s the Black women, that’s not even queer Black women, you know?”
Rebuild Women’s Hope is the women’s collective that the company works with to subsidize local infrastructure projects from the sales of coffee beans grown in sustainable, financially viable, locally-owned operations. The products of which are on offer at Senter’s “High on Flavor” morning gatherings.
Recent coffee and cannabis pop-ups have been accompanied by a record store pop-up with a few stacks of crates, a plant vendor and an educational bud bar.
“At [the Bud Bar] station, we suggest which coffee or tea pairs best with the different types of varieties of cannabis,” Senter said. “We have a coffee-and-tea bar with two baristas both making the pour-overs, lattes, cold brew and tea.”
Local food favorites also join. Donut Savant, of Oakland, has done “kind of a brunch,” and Filipino street-eats purveyor Lucky Three Seven, local to Oakland, has provided food.
MAKR House Brands
As well as Landrace Origins, MAKR House manages the cannabis brands Disco Jays and Tiger’s Eye.
“Disco Jays [prerolls] and Tiger’s Eye cigars are products that really resonate within the communities that we come from,” Senter said.
A true believer in the caffeine / THC nexus, the company offers a pairing of the two plants for sale at dispensaries. The “Landrace Origins Coffee and Tea Club” is recommended “for enthusiasts of two of the greatest plants on earth: coffee and cannabis,” says the company’s website.
With the maturation of the cannabis industry, much more sophisticated products have come to market. But the industry remains overregulated. That means that the companies that don’t have the economies of scale to match the efficiencies of the big boys are not able to shoulder the high tax burden placed on cannabis operators.
“It’s very much a price game and a race to the bottom, in my opinion, and you know that’s something that’s very hard to compete with, especially as a small business owner,” Senter said. “My team is all women. For now. And yeah, we all love weed. We love making weed products that are practical for people.”
The companies find various ways of staying connected to a diversity of community members. As well as the coffee pop-ups, Senter and Landrace Origins host livestreams on Instagram highlighting the women who work with the company abroad—most recently, the aforementioned collective in the Congo.
Back to the coffee klatch, which exists because these products and companies are organized around one principle: building community. People gather together for work, for socializing, for life.
“Yes, being able to partake and do that with people, maybe friends, [maybe] people you don’t know, and have a really nice, easy conversation with some nice music and a beautiful ambiance—it’s cool,” Senter said. Very cool.