Listen in as Julianna Carella and Lauren Fraser of Auntie Dolores discuss how to create edibles that people really want. Auntie Dolores creates THC-infused edibles that include cakes, brownie bites, and their famous pretzels. Learn more at AuntieDolores.com
Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Each week I’ll take you behind the scenes to interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving legal marijuana industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That’s www.cannainsider.com/trends. Now here’s your program. As we often talk about on CannaInsider, cannabis consumers’ preferences are quickly moving from flower to concentrates and edibles. Today we’re going to talk with Julianna Carella and Lauren Fraser if Auntie Dolores. Auntie Dolores makes some of the most talked about and delectable infused edibles. Julianna and Lauren welcome to CannaInsider.
Julianna: Thank you.
Lauren: Thanks Matt.
Matthew: I want to dig into infused products and Auntie Dolores, but before we go down that road, can you tell us where you are in the world?
Julianna: We’re based in Oakland.
Matthew: And where did the name Auntie Dolores come from?
Julianna: Well we got our start in San Francisco about six years ago, and Auntie Dolores comes from—the name Dolores actually means pain in Spanish—so it’s a play on words Auntie pain.
Matthew: That’s a good one. Yeah Dolor, you’re right, I did not make the connection.
Julianna: And cannabis is the best Auntie pain remedy there is.
Matthew: Good point. How did each of you get started in this industry? I mean this is a pretty specific career path.
Julianna: Yeah it is. It sort of unfolded and become more of a career path. It started off as a little side project. I had been baking with edibles for many years and, you know, and dispensaries started popping up in San Francisco and looking for more edibles to put on the shelf, more interesting products. That’s when we started to bring my products into the dispensaries, and so the timing was really good. There seemed to be a bit of void as far as what was available. So it was nice to get involved at that time.
Matthew: Now Julianna for somebody that’s never tried an edible before, how do you describe the difference in experience versus smoking flower?
Julianna: Well the onset is going to be coming on later. So you can usually plan for at least a half hour up to, I mean we’ve talked to patients that have said it’s taken three for their edible to take effect. So there’s a wide range. Generally speaking it takes about an hour for most people for the effects to become evident. And the duration of the experience is going to last longer than smoking or vaporizing will last. And so if you’re somebody that wants to be medicated for, you know, a duration of 4 plus hours, and you know you may not be in a position to, you know, take a break from work to go smoke or vaporize, but if you need that continuous (3.23 unclear), it’s a nice way to discretely medicate. And so those are some of the reasons that we think edibles are, you know, popular and gaining popularity is just the discression factor and duration of the effects, and then being able to really kind of titrate your dosage if you’re consuming edibles that come from, you know, a reliable source and the bakery or kitchen that does a good job at, you know, really making a consistent product.
Matthew: Now Julianna let’s dig into Auntie Dolores products a little bit. Can you tell us what you offer?
Julianna: Sure. So right now we have a product line of ten different products, and pretty much all the products, we are just actually revamped a lot of our recipes to make them even healthier. Our brownies are going to be low glycemic and vegan. And then the rest of our product line is vegan, gluten free, sugar free, low glycemic, you know, incorporate super foods like coconut oil. We use coconut sugar for sweetening all of our products because it’s diabetic friendly. So we’re interested in just creating really delicious, tasty foods. A lot of our products are savory and appeal to folks that maybe don’t have a big sweet tooth, but they still like to medicate with edibles. And so between the ten products half of them are savory, half are sweet. Most of them are vegan or gluten free or sugar free, and they’re all really delicious.
Matthew: Now you touched on super foods a little bit there. Can you talk about that a little more because I don’t know if you’ve read that book, Super Foods by David Wolfe, but he goes into cacao, goji berries, coconut oil, aloe. And super food, the term gets thrown around, but can you tell us a little bit more about what that means exactly?
Julianna: Yeah, you know, it’s something that I hear a lot about, super foods that term, and it seems to run around. Actually there’s a pretty specific list of criteria that a super food has to match that list to actually be considered a true super food. Coconut oil is definitely on that list. Cacao nibs is another ingredient we incorporate in our (5.44 unclear) cookies which is, you know, between the cacao nibs and the coconut oil and then the cannabis, I mean, the three of those ingredients together are just… it’s just a really, really pretty dynamic outcome when you’ve got all that going on. I mean the health benefits of coconut oil actually near a lot of the health benefits of the cannabinoids. So that’s really interesting. And then because we do a food grade extract with coconut oil, we’re using the full plant and all of it. So the full plant extract is what’s going into our edibles and it’s made with the coconut oil. And so it’s just a really healthy approach to consuming cannabinoids orally.
Matthew: Those cacao nibs that you’re talking about they’re like little shards of really super bitter cacao beans. They take a little bit of getting used to, but I find they are really healthful and especially combining those with a little bit of goji berry, it’s like one of my favorite things. But circling back to coconut oil, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this morning regimen. I have coconut oil in my coffee with some organic, grass fed, unsalted butter. Have you ever heard of that?
Julianna: Yes I talked with someone last week who is putting coconut oil in their coffee and I’ve never tried it. But yeah that’s so interesting. I mean there’s so many things you can do with coconut oil. It’s a topical, you can use it in your hair, I mean, it’s just, you know, like anything else. If you can put it on your skin and you can eat it, chances are it’s going to be really good for you. Just another note on the cacao nibs because he brought up a really good point. They are a slightly bitter flavor and eating them alone is pretty intense. When you incorporate them with chocolate and these other ingredients it kind of takes the edge off it, but you still get the benefit of it and you get the crunch and (7.41 unclear). So that’s really nice.
Matthew: Now you mentioned that your products aren’t overly sweet, but there is some sweetness to them. How do you sweeten them if there’s no sugar? Is it like agave or stevia or how does that work?
Julianna: Yeah we use coconut sugar for pretty much 9 out of 10 products or at least, excuse me, all the products that are sweet except for the caramel corn are made with coconut sugar. And so coconut sugar is actually mineral rich and it’s low glycemic. So it’s not going to spike your blood sugar. It’s diabetic friendly, and it’s really nice. We just came out with a new product the glazed pecans. We use the coconut sugar for that glazed pecan recipe. It’s vegan. It’s made with the coconut oil and the coconut sugar, but it tastes just like any other caramelized pecan. It’s just healthier for you and it has cannabis oil in it. But the coconut sugar is just, it’s really great, really great.
Matthew: Now everybody keeps on telling me I must try the Auntie Dolores, can you guess what I’m going say, which product it is?
Matthew: Yes, what is in these pretzels? It’s like I can’t go a few days without saying, have you tried an Auntie Dolores pretzel. What is with these pretzels? They sound delicious.
Julianna: It’s so funny. Well so the story behind the pretzels is, I mean, we released them like five years ago, the first year that we were bringing them to the dispensaries that we worked with back then. We’re like, nobody’s going to want to try it because there was not one savory product in the market. And so it took a little while, but once it caught on it was like gang busters and it’s just literally our most popular product. Basically there’s 30 ingredients in these pretzels. It’s a pretzel that’s coated with a special sauce that’s just really complex and masks the flavor of the cannabis really well. And they also have coconut oil in them, and I think just because they’re savory and sugar free, each pretzel is roughly 3 to 4mg. They can really triturate your dosage. Somebody who’s got a low tolerance might eat three or four pretzels, and you know, we’ve talked to people that eat one and that’s plenty for them. And then we have other patients that are eating the whole bag of 32 pretzels. So, you know, just kind of highlights the spectrum of tolerance levels and how our products, we really try to develop products that anybody can enjoy if they consume responsibly and that they, you know, take note of what one dosage constitutes for each of our products. And so it actually says that on the product packaging what one dose constitutes, and in the case of the pretzels it’s about two to three pretzels for one dose.
Matthew: Now you talked briefly about, you know, blood sugar normalization with coconut sugar and then there’s coconut oil in the pretzels. Does that kind of help lessen the blood sugar spike? Is that one of the designs of the coconut oil or is it just a complementary flavor?
Julianna: I’m not sure we could make that claim with the coconut oil. The other health benefits are certainly there in product. But most important would probably be the fact that we’re extracting the cannabinoids directly into the coconut oil. And so it’s just, it’s sort of the medium for actually infusing the product. And then in some cases we also use CO2 oil because that’s really nice for helping to kind of mask the flavor of cannabis because we end up using, you know, less volume of the CO2 oil than you would of an infused coconut oil. And so there’s a combination in some of our products, and then some products we just use coconut oil. Like for instance our dog treats have coconut oil because of the health benefits are really good for dogs as well.
Matthew: Well that’s interesting. Can you tell us a little bit more about the dog treats?
Julianna: Sure. Yeah, we have a company that’s called Kindest Pet, and it’s a new product. It was recently we changed the name from Treatables, and so some people know us as Treatables, but we’ve changed the name and we’ve rebranded the product. But it’s been out for about six months now. It’s doing really really well. It’s basically a bag of 40 dog treats, and these dog treats have no THC in them. They are not designed to intoxicate your dog. They’re specifically designed to address your dog’s health issues. And so it could be anything from cancer to epilepsy to separation anxiety to I mean you name it, all the same things that human beings benefit from CBD. Dogs also benefit in all those same ways. And so the response has been pretty overwhelming and people are loving the treats. It takes, you know, for the dogs that have separation anxiety, it’s nice for the pet owner as well as the pet to kind of lessen their anxiety. You know, I’m really excited about it.
Matthew: That is really cool. I haven’t heard of anything like that. And you know I often hear about dog food just being filled with these terrible fillers and other crazy things. Can you tell us some of the other ingredients beside CBD and non psychoactive components?
Julianna: Yeah absolutely. Yeah, it’s really important to us that the food that we’re sort of infusing the cannabis in also has to be healthy especially, you know, if you’re giving it to your pets and you’re trying to give your pet a good diet. These treats are actually vegan. They’re gluten free. They’re made with a protein rich oat flour that’s gluten free. And then there’s peanut butter, pumpkin, coconut oil like I said, a little bit of cinnamon for flavor and then a little bit of coconut fat which is like basically a syrup that comes from the coconut. And that’s it. And by itself, even without the cannabis, they’re actually really healthy dog treats that the CBD just sort of bumps it up a notch. Also there’s hemp oil in them. That’s really good for dogs as well.
Matthew: So we talked a little bit about the pretzels. What are the other one or two products you sell that are just… would you say are the most popular?
Julianna: Well our caramel corn is really popular. It’s delicious. And let’s see, the third most popular product would probably be our toffee brownies.
Matthew: Hmm. That sounds good.
Julianna: Yeah. We also have chili lime peanuts and glazed pecans and cocoa sparkle cookies. We’ve got cheese crackers. So there’s a wide range of flavors in the product line.
Matthew: And where can we buy Auntie Dolores edibles right now? Is it still only in California or is it moving to other medical dispensaries in different states?
Julianna: Yeah we are throughout California, all the way from Humble down to San Diego. We’re in dispensaries, and you know you can check us out online at our website to find any information. But also we are licensing the brand out of state. You’ll find the product in Washington soon probably within the next six to twelve months. The adult use (15.39 unclear) shops over in Washington. And then probably soon after that you’ll find our products in Nevada and Colorado, and then we’ll be moving into East Coast states after that.
Matthew: Now switching gears to baking a little bit and some of the mechanics of that, do you prefer baking with THC oil or butter? What’s your preference there?
Julianna: Well we only use cannabis butter for one of our products, maybe two of our products at this time. The rest of our products are vegan so they’re made with the coconut oil. But we do also infuse the products with super (16.24 unclear) CO2 cannabis oil. So it’s a combination of those.
Matthew: Is there any specific challenges to baking with cannabis that someone listening might be surprised about because I’ve heard things about how it has to bind with fat and different things and there’s just probably some specific details. Can you enlighten us?
Julianna: Yeah sure. Well the cannabinoids are fat soluble so you have to find a way to, you know, infuse medium which in this case it could be coconut oil or butter. For people who are trying this at home there’s so many recipes online that you can follow and they’re perfectly good for home baking. But my suggestion is to, if you’re going to use butter or coconut oil, you know we generally use about four ounces of cannabis trim for one cup of oil. So it comes out pretty strong, but if you make it as strong as you can possibly make it, then you can always kind of taper down by adding uninfused butter or oil to that to make it weaker. But it’s suggested to get your product tested before you start working with it so that you know exactly how many milligrams are in, you know, one gram of your product so that you can do the math on calculating how many milligrams you want in your batch of brownies or your lasagna or whatever you’re putting it in and how many servings you get from that particular recipe. So those are all components for baking with cannabis at home. Those are things to think of.
Matthew: Now we all hear stories about people that try edibles for the first time and don’t understand the dosages, and they might have a very interesting afternoon if they’re not paying attention to how much they’re eating. Can you help us understand dosages and packaging so people don’t make any mistakes?
Julianna: Sure so what we’ve sort of kind of adopted what Colorado and Washington and some of these other states have determined that 10mg is one dose, and that’s about what we’ve… we used to consider 12 to 15mg to be one dose. We’re following what Colorado and some of these other states are doing because most likely that will be what happens in California. And it’s just a really good place to start because most people that are either new to cannabis or they’re new to edibles, there’s really no reason to go above 10mg.
In fact that might be more than enough. So we even suggest starting with 5 if you’re a newcomer because the effects of the edibles are so much more profound than smoking or vaporizing and because the onset is delayed. It’s sort of a perfect recipe for a surprising afternoon if you’re not quite ready for the ride. So it’s really really suggested and this is something that happens. Almost all the time we hear the story continuously from people in general that they take a sample of the edible, they wait an hour, nothing’s happened, instead of waiting another hour they decide I’m just going to go ahead and eat more and that’s usually when the roller coaster ride starts because they’ve consumed probably, who knows how much, how many milligrams and you know quite possibly more than what they need. So then it’s not as enjoyable of an experience and oftentimes that experience alone can turn people off forever to edibles. So it’s actually really unfortunate, and we don’t like when that happens. It’s really important to us to label the product. We’ve just redesigned our packaging to make it even clearer. I mean it’s just so so important for people to know what they’re consuming and how many milligrams that is and what kind of effect they can expect.
Matthew: Now how do you come up with different food items? Do you experiment with friends and family? Do you have parties with guests? I mean, I’m curious here how this works and how I can get invited.
Julianna: You’re invited, don’t worry. Yeah we, you know, that’s kind of how it started off, you know, five-six years ago when we were sort of developing our menu, but we only develop maybe two to three new products a year, and then we’ll kind of let go of some of the other ones that have been around and maybe not as good of sellers. We’re interesting in finding products that, you know, that no one else is doing. And so you’re not going to see us, you know, creating like a chocolate bar. There’s plenty of chocolate bars out there so you know, and there’s certain other products that we just won’t do because they’re already out there. But if you look at our product line, most of our products no one else is doing. And that’s partly because I think our recipes are pretty complex, and we do that for a reason because we don’t want people to copy them.
So we’re interested, you know, making products that are easy to penetrate. So like in the case of the pretzels and the caramel corn and all these loose products that come in a package and you can take one or you can take ten, that’s how all of our products are. So the latest product that we just developed would be the glazed pecans. And we just really wanted a holiday product. The glazed pecans are a great holiday product. You know, you can put them on your salad. You can throw them in trail mix. I mean there’s so many different things you can do with the glazed pecans. And that was just a great timing since it’s a holiday product. That’s kind of sort of how we just come up with ideas we think of something that would be interesting and in the market and something that we know that we could successfully infuse and make it a consistent delicious product.
Matthew: Well you’ve certainly cracked the code there on new products. Switching gears to testing, testing’s becoming a huge part of the cannabis business and the ability to test for a lot of different things is expanding. And it’s not just about keeping out the bad things like mold, but also dialing in the desirable components of the plant. Can you tell us a little bit about testing and how you think about it and apply it to Auntie Dolores products?
Julianna: Yeah, well for us, you know, we work with multiple growers and we’ve got, you know, a set amount of strains that we’re working with, and that’s you know anywhere from eight to ten different strains of cannabis. So you know you can’t look at a cannabis plant and know exactly what the cannabinoids profile is, and so I mean we make our extract and then we take it to the lab so that we can see what all the levels are like on the THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, THCV, all of those cannabinoids just to see where we land. And it’s really quite impossible to even start baking with a product until you look at the lab results, if you’re trying to, you know, produce a product that you can quantify, you know, the dosage of the product. So the testing is really important on the potency side of it all. So it’s really important because you know we need to make sure that there’s no contaminants and any other things that you wouldn’t want ending up in your edibles.
Matthew: Now switching gears to brand. I have a question for you Lauren. You know I hear about stories about Steve Jobs from Apple and he says, or he used to say, you know, we don’t do focus groups, we don’t do any of this market testing. We just make what we would like to see. Is that the secret behind Auntie Dolores’s unique brand because there’s other edibles out there, but there’s not other edibles where people are always talking to me about it, telling me about it. You’ve got all these people, these brand advocates out there talking about Auntie Dolores. Why is that? How did this happen?
Lauren: Yes that’s a great question. I mean we have a really really loyal customer base who keep coming back because they love the products, they love the taste, but they also trust the brand. I mean Julianna hit on a few points. Just the consistency, everybody talks about consistency and it’s very important not just because people want the same experience every time, but it’s because it builds trust for a brand, and we don’t take that trust lightly. We’re really committed to our customers in maintaining that trust ever day. So new products and creativity, that all comes down to.. and we do tap into our customers a lot to figure out what it is that they would want and look at the gaps on the shelves, the gaps in the market and try to fill those gaps with things that really cater to true patients with dietary restrictions. We have a wellness focus. The Every Day Edible is our tagline, and so it really comes down to not just being a medicine, not just being a food, but being the product that you can integrate into your everyday life and in a space and safe way that you trust and that you love.
Matthew: So what’s on the horizon for 2015 as we draw to a close in 2014?
Lauren: Well in 2014 we’ve really been setting the foundation for a national expansion, been kind of planting the seeds and nurturing them, and we have a brand expansion model that allows us to legally bring the products to new emerging markets in the medical and adult use space through partnerships with licensed producer/processors. So in 2015 you’re going to see Auntie Dolores products launching in some new West Coast markets outside of California. And we’re actively looking for professional partners to work with in other states.
Lauren: Yeah, yeah and also this year we’re introducing some new products, also have some exciting initiatives that are really focused on education and awareness so that we can elevate not only our brand but the industry at large. It’s something that I think the company has always been politically active and a part of the community really, you know, not one of these kind of big brands that’s a bit separate. You’re seeing a lot of shift in the market right now, and as this market shifts and becomes bigger and new players come in, having those roots in your home state and the political roots and being a part of the movement for a long time is something that you’ll always see in Auntie Dolores.
Matthew: And so just to reiterate, what states are you looking for partners in?
Lauren: We are actively looking for partners in Colorado and Arizona and Illinois, eventually Florida. So there’s… we’ve been talking to people really across the nation, and I think as these markets get closer to coming on board we just want to have… we want to know the right people. We want to know the people who are doing things with the right intentions and people that we can partner with that have an aligned vision. But in terms of, you know, the next two years we’re really focused on entering West Coast states and we will be expanding after that.
Matthew: Great. And Julianna as we close, how can listeners learn more about Auntie Dolores products?
Julianna: Well you can visit our website and I’m going to spell it out for you and then I’ll give you the special media information. So it’s www.auntiedolores.com, and www.facebook.com/auntiedoloresedibles and www.twitter.com/auntiedolores.
Matthew: Great. Well Julianna and Lauren, thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it. If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.cannainsider.com, email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.