There’s a very good reason why boutique and artisanal products have become so popular – at least, among those who can afford them.
Boutique products are lovingly hand-crafted by experienced craftspeople who are devoted to creating unique, specialty merchandise. Artisanal foods are prepared slowly and carefully using time-honored methods, to ensure their impeccable quality.
There’s certainly a place for mass-produced and mass-marketed products. They’re easy to find, usually inexpensive, and – if you make smart buying decisions – will get the job done.
Boutique products, though, can be special. They’re normally higher-quality options, providing better performance and a greater level of satisfaction than the cheap alternatives you can grab at a superstore or on Amazon.
That brings us to boutique producer CBD Essence.
Compared to many bigger-name CBD producers, this company doesn’t have an enormous website or catalog. Instead, CBD Essence offers a limited number of cannabidiol products (cannabidiol is the full name for CBD) which are produced in small quantities. The goal of small-batch production is to ensure quality and consistency; it’s a great approach if you can get all of the details right.
So the important question is: how does CBD Essence score on quality and consistency?
Let’s find out.
CBD Essence: The Background
This company was formed in 2015 by a Florida man named Don Ballou. He had been trying CBD – among many other herbal and botanical products – for quite some time, to treat the issues like anxiety, aggression, and lack of focus that had plagued him for decades.
However, he found that most cannabidiol products didn’t provide the daily relief he needed; only a few of the brands available at the time did much good. (CBD was legalized nationwide in 2018, but it was being sold before that in some states which had legalized medical cannabis.)
After doing some research, Ballou realized that the majority of CBD producers were cutting corners by using substandard production methods or hazardous chemicals. He resolved to do it better, and that’s why he created CBD Essence. His deep background in engineering, and his years of personal research into the power of herbs and botanicals to treat medical issues, allowed him to create hemp-based products and processes that helped him treat his own conditions.
Once he was happy with the products, he started CBD Essence and then expanded the business to create NutraHemp as a parent corporation. NutraHemp sells the company’s products in other countries and has developed other lines of legal cannabis edibles and nutraceuticals like HempTaffy, HempChillPill, HempsPets, and Bulletproof coffee. The CBD products are still manufactured in basically the same way that they were in 2015, though, despite the continuing growth of CBD Essence and NutraHemp.
Having a long-term personal interest in CBD and its benefits doesn’t guarantee quality products, of course. It’s simply one sign that Ballou and his team (which includes his wife, the president of CBD Essence) care as much about the product as they do about the profits.
That’s why it’s important to examine the way that this company creates and manufactures its products.
CBD Essence: The Approach
When digging into a CBD producer’s approach, we usually start by looking at where their hemp is sourced from, how they extract the cannabidiol, and what else they put into their products.
But there’s something even more crucial to know about CBD Essence. From the very start, the company’s mission was to create small batches of high-quality CBD, without obsessing on profit margins and how easily production could be scaled up.
CBD Essence sells vastly more products now than they did in 2015, but they still have the same approach. In fact, they only produce as much as they can sell; they guarantee that all of the CBD oil they ship has been manufactured and tested within the past 24 hours. We’ve reviewed a lot of CBD companies, and have never seen that type of attention to freshness.
Now let’s get to the rest of CBD Essence’s methods.
Unlike many producers who claim to sell only all-natural products – but then sneak in artificial flavors or preservatives – this company stays true to its all-natural promises. They do, however, add natural ingredients like the sweetener Stevia and the binder sunflower lecithin to some of its products. MCT coconut oil (the best choice) and hempseed oil (second-best) are used as carriers.
CBD Essence sources its hemp from certified organic farms, mainly in Colorado. (“Certified” is a notch higher on the quality ladder than organically-grown, which is the type of hemp most producers use.) Cannabidiol is extracted via the supercritical CO2 method, a safe process widely viewed as the method that preserves most of the CBD’s effectiveness. Almost all of the company’s products are full-spectrum, meaning they retain the hemp’s other components which provide another boost in CBD’s effectiveness via the “entourage effect.”
There’s almost nothing in CBD Essence’s approach to complain about. In truth, their attention to the freshness of their products sets them apart from many of their high-end competitors.
CBD Essence Oils
There’s usually a downside to keeping product lines small, manageable, and able to be shipped within 24 hours: the selection isn’t as big as the one that most companies offer.
CBD Essence produces only two potencies of its full-spectrum CBD oil: 10mg/ml and 35mg/ml. The oil is designed well, although it does contain the stevia and sunflower lecithin that we mentioned earlier, in addition to cannabidiol and carrier oil. (The stronger option uses MCT coconut oil, the 10mg/ml one uses hempseed oil.)
These CBD oils are available in seven natural flavors (cinnamon, grape, lemon, mango, peppermint, spearmint, and vanilla), as well as natural hemp and unsweetened (without the stevia).
The limited choice of potencies isn’t a huge issue, since you can always use more or less than one milliliter. However, doses of 20mg or 25mg are common choices; we would have liked to see a potency in that range, which would make it easier for most people to measure and dose the oil.
CBD Essence Capsules
CBD Essence’s softgels are also sold in two different potencies, and they’re not for the “faint of heart” – in other words, those who only need small doses to help with moderate pain or anxiety. The two choices are 35 milligrams and 100 milligrams of cannabidiol per capsule; by contrast, most commonly-sold CBD capsules contain anywhere from 10-25 milligrams apiece. Most people using CBD really don’t need a 100mg dose, but it can certainly help if you’re suffering from severe pain.
Organic MCT coconut oil is used as a carrier for the full-spectrum CBD that’s in the softgels, and the only other ingredient is sunflower lecithin. Sadly, the company doesn’t say what the actual capsules are made from, so we don’t know whether they’re vegetarian or vegan.
CBD Essence Edibles
Most companies’ edibles are gummies. Instead, CBD Essence sells cannabidiol-infused taffy that’s manufactured under its sister brand name, HempTaffy. This is THC-free candy, but we don’t know if the CBD is broad-spectrum (with all hemp components except for THC) or CBD isolate. The only other ingredients, though, are sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and natural flavorings; the choices are chocolate, mint, chocolate mint, and orange mint. Each piece contains about 10 milligrams of CBD.
CBD Essence Vape Juice
This is very clean CBD vape juice, containing only full-spectrum cannabidiol and the propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine needed to make it vapable. It’s an organic juice with a slight natural caramel flavor, and it’s available in two potencies. CBD Essence also sells a vape pen/e-juice starter kit for those new to vaping.
CBD Essence Topicals
Here’s another category that exemplifies the company’s mission of creating a small number of high-quality products. Most producers offer as many two dozen types of topical CBD options, but CBD Essence only sells two: an all-purpose cream and a hot muscle rub.
The cream is designed primarily to relieve general body pain, and the use of full-spectrum cannabidiol (highly unusual for a CBD topical product) makes the product more effective than most competitors’. It’s an all-natural product that contains eucalyptus and a number of other botanicals and essential oils with antioxidant and healing properties and has a pleasant aroma.
The muscle rub also contains full-spectrum CBD, plus capsaicin which is known to help relieve pain and inflammation. The other botanicals and oils in the rub are all-natural as well.
CBD Essence for Pets
Once again, there’s a limited but good choice of CBD Essence products for dogs. There are two potencies of “natural smoky flavor” CBD oil; it’s hard to tell the exact strength from the labeling, but it appears that one is 5g/ml and the other is 15mg/ml. There are also dog treats containing 10 milligrams of CBD apiece, sold in a mix of natural, chicken, cheese, and charcoal flavors. Both products use full-spectrum cannabidiol. These are high doses for pets, so go easy with them.
CBD Essence: The Verdict
This company has set a high bar for itself, limiting production to a single day’s worth of high-quality CBD products that it can sell and ship within 24 hours. That’s a prescription for effective, fresh merchandise – but it’s also potentially a prescription for disaster.
CBD Essence, however, pulls it off. Their small product line is filled with terrific options, manufactured with best practices, and designed to provide maximum benefit. We do wish there were more potency choices available, but that’s one of the costs of doing business when you deliberately limit what you produce and sell. Perhaps most surprisingly, their prices aren’t astronomical, either.
Putting it simply, this is a company that does it right – and does it well.