Wellness CBD drink company MEDA was dealt a double-edged sword in 2020. Its on-trade launch was met with a red light when hospitality was shut down in March but the world’s renewed focus on health and wellness plays nicely into what MEDA is trying to achieve. Imbibe’s Eleanor Dallaway talks to MEDA founder Adam Feldheim about his evolving business model
It was around November 2018 that Adam Feldheim noticed that CBD (cannabidol) was a pretty big deal back home in California. Surprised that it wasn’t really on anyone’s radar in the UK – where he’d been living since 2006 – he made plans to make it a big deal on this side of the pond.
Globalization trends take around 18 months to be adopted, he explains to Imbibe. “I knew that health and wellness are the future and so I wanted to create something accessible with CBD. Drink is the ultimate consumable so I worked with a nutritionist to make it CBD plus, with the plus meaning the other nutrients.”
Feldheim created MEDA, a wellness company with a range of drinks – soft drinks loaded with nutrients and CBD in cans – that were sold by specialty grocers. “CBD is the star of the show because it’s trendy and gets a lot of attention, but the rest of the ingredients are a strong supporting cast.” The drinks are low-calorie, low-sugar, no alcohol.
This was MEDA’s original offering, but it was only just the beginning.
From grocers to the on-trade
Feldheim did a deal with Annabel’s, a private members club in Mayfair London. “They have a DJ called Black Coffee and he doesn’t drink alcohol, so we were asked to create a no-lo espresso martini using the product we had.” So Feldheim’s team set about deconstructing the Annabel’s espresso martini. “We bio-hacked it, we took out half the calories, half the sugar, we added CBD and we put it in a glass bottle,” explains Feldheim. Bartenders can serve the product virgin or by mixing it with spirits. “No-one was doing this in the on-trade”, he recalls.
We bio-hacked it, we took out half the calories, half the sugar, we added CBD and we put it in a glass bottle
Left (as pictured): THE BOOST
Garnish: Dehydrated orange garnish
Method: Take a highball glass and fill with ice. Set the glass aside. Add three cubes of ice to a cocktail shaker and add 50ml of grey goose vodka and 10ml of MEDA blackcurrant citrus CBD bitters. Shake well. Pour the mix into your prepared glass and top up with MEDA Boost and garnish with dehydrated orange.
200ml Boost MEDA mixer containing 15mg CBD
50ml grey goose vodka
10ml MEDA blackcurrant citrus CBD bitters
Right (as pictured): THE GLOW
Garnish: Dehydrated lime garnish
Method: Take a highball glass and fill with ice. Set the glass aside. Add three cubes of ice to a cocktail shaker and add 50ml of Sipsmith dry gin and 25ml of MEDA elderflower and basil CBD cordial. Shake well. Pour the mix into your prepared glass and top up with MEDA Glow and garnish with dehydrated lime
200ml Glow MEDA mixer containing 15mg CBD
50ml Sipsmith dry gin
25ml MEDA elderflower and basil CBD cordial
By March 2020, Feldheim’s products were getting picked up by great partners and he’d bought all his stock. One week later, rather catastrophically, the country went into lockdown. “It’s a really tricky time to be selling a product into an industry that is struggling,” he explains. “I was so excited about our on-trade opportunities but Covid-19 hit hospitality somewhat disproportionately.”
His best option was to adapt his business model, and that he did.
“I’d proved the concept so we created the mixology box to sell direct-to-consumer.” The mixology experience offers all four no-lo CBD mixers with premium alcohol pairings and garnishes to top. At £25 a box, consumers can create four premium cocktails with virtual mixology tutorials for £6.25 a pop. “I’m not really in the alcohol business, but I don’t need to be dogmatic about it. A little bit of alcohol can support a healthy lifestyle.”
Lockdown also gave birth to the alcoholic version of the MEDA bottled CBD espresso martini (which is quite delicious, we might add). “Our on-trade version doesn’t have alcohol in, but our direct to consumer offering does,” explains Feldheim.
Despite the undoubtedly negative effect of Covid-19 on his business, Feldheim is positive about the long-term impact that the wake of the pandemic will inevitably have on people’s attitudes to wellness, which he believes will put MEDA in good stead.
I’m not really in the alcohol business, but I don’t need to be dogmatic about it. A little bit of alcohol can support a healthy lifestyle
“Health and wellness is more relevant today than ever before. Even with a vaccine, the behavior and psychology of people will change for years to come, so I feel good about having this proposition. It’s not pharma, it’s not going to cure cancer, but it is wellness and it does work.”
Feldheim believes that CBD and mental health go hand in hand, “there’s a reason it’s legal,” and as such, MEDA has collaborated with the charity Mind. “We want to help people disproportionately affected by Covid-19. We’re trying to raise money to fund events and we’re giving proceeds from our award-winning ‘Recover’ drink to MIND too.
“CBD isn’t a fad”, concludes Feldheim, and with the entire world fighting for health and wellness right now, there should be a big old market out there waiting to drink (delicious) wellness from a can.
Imbibe was lucky enough to spend one lockdown Saturday night experimenting with the MEDA mixology experience. The kit makes four cocktails, each containing 15mg CBD and a no-lo CBD mixer with premium alcohol pairings and fancy garnishes. Our favourite was the ‘Calm’ cocktail. Harrogate rum was at the core of this drink, accentuated by CALM no-lo mixer, containing 15mg CBD, strawberry bitters and finished with a dehydrated strawberry garnish. Delicious, and it looks the part too. Get your hands on a MEDA mixology experience here: https://medahuman.com/product/mixology-experience/#boxzilla-6735