Vybes has, for a number of reasons both good and bad, become something of a poster child for the upscale CBD-infused beverage industry: trendy, chic, and stylish; spotted in the hands of heavyweight celebrities and influencers; sold at an extreme price point; even needlessly persecuted by authorities (see more on that below).
This much discussed and much sought-after beverage wasn’t easy to find in San Francisco, but we kept our eyes peeled and tracked it down at Sidewalk Juice, an upscale juice/smoothie bar in the Mission.
This is our deep dive into Vybes.
Background: Who is Vybes?
Vybes, formerly based out of Los Angeles, CA, is one of the buzziest names in the CBD drink industry, and is now sold in 21 states (pretty impressive distribution for a high-end CBD drink).
Unfortunately, Vybes also gained attention as a victim of the State of California’s rather bizarre intolerance of CBD-infused products. In accordance with FDA rules that prohibit the inclusion of CBD in food or drinks (a ruling largely ignored nationwide but selectively enforced by some state and local officials), this year California health inspectors raided Vybes’ warehouse and impounded $100,000 of product.
50 retailers in California stopped selling Vybes as a result of this crackdown, and after taking a $500,000 loss, Vybes moved production to Texas (which recently legalized hemp-derived CBD in all forms).
This story is particularly unfortunate considering that the founder, Jonathan Eppers, became a proponent of CBD and started crafting CBD beverages after leaving the tech industry due to a crippling anxiety problem. The State of California, it seems, was determined to staunch his personal anxiety-fighting efforts.
Nevertheless, Vybes continues to thrive from its new Texas homebase. For their willingness to stand on the frontlines of the CBD war and take one for the team, we salute Vybes.
Taste Score: 9.5/10
Does the drink taste bueno or no bueno?
Vybes comes in 5 flavors:
- Honeycrisp Apple Basil
- Burning Mandarin
- Strawberry Lavender
- Blueberry Mint
- Peach Ginger
Of these 5 we got our hands on three: Blueberry Mint, Burning Mandarin, and Strawberry Lavender.
So, we at Remedy Journey have tried all manner of CBD-infused drinks: coffees, sparkling waters, teas, sodas, you name it. Taste-wise, this drink takes the top spot of any that we’ve tried so far. It’s a tasty, refreshing light juice drink with no weird weed-y aftertaste that you sometimes get with CBD-infused drinks (though that’s because Vybes uses tasteless CBD isolate, not our favorite).
The flavors have a mixologist vibe and put a unique twist on something familiar. I LOVED the Blueberry Mint, and the Strawberry Lavender was a close second: airy, fruity, and sweet-but-not-too-sweet. Admittedly I didn’t like the Burning Mandarin, but that’s because of the presence of turmeric, which I can’t stomach. Otherwise it was a tasty, citrusy beverage.
Top marks for taste.
Value Score: 7.5/10
How much CBD bang are you getting for your buck?
The headliner here is 25mg of CBD, which is a pretty hefty dose for a CBD-infused drink. Unfortunately the price point knocks the value down a few notches: these retail at $8.50.
Health score: 8.5/10
How committed is this brand to health and wellness? We look at all the ingredients.
Vybes uses all-organic ingredients (a big plus for us), and these drinks are relatively low-sugar (ranging from 4mg to 12mg). They use a variety of low-sugar juices (blueberry, lemon) along with green tea extract and a couple of alternative sweeteners.
The fact that they’ve pulled off such a tasty, sweet drink with so little sugar is impressive (we don’t love alternative sweeteners like erythritol either, but they’re better than cane sugar).
But here’s the knock: Vybes uses CBD isolate, rather than full-spectrum.
Founder Jonathan Eppers explained in an interview that he wanted a THC-free product, so people could be confident they weren’t getting anything psychoactive. Well, fair enough. But in the same interview he disputed that full-spectrum is more therapeutic or medicinal than CBD isolate, claiming there was no evidence to support this.
While we see the value of having zero-THC products available for folks who might get drug tested (or who are touchy about THC), the use of isolate dings the health score a little.
Relief Score: 8/10
Many of us consume CBD to relieve ailments. Does this product provide effective relief?
I use CBD for anxiety, and I have noticed a slight difference in effectiveness between CBD isolate and full-spectrum, but CBD isolate still works well, and 25mg is definitely an adequate dosage.
This drink was effective as an anxiety-reliever for me, and the Remedy Journey team overall found that Vybes was effective as a remedy, though not as much as a comparable 25mg dose of full-spectrum CBD (as you get with GT’s Sparkling Wellness Waters).
What makes this drink special? Does it promote productivity or focus? Does it get one “lit”?
One of the nice touches of this drink was the use of green tea extract for a small caffeine kick (30mg), which provides smoother, less volatile energy than caffeine from coffee.
My daily CBD-infused drink favorites typically have a heftier dose of caffeine (75mg+), but I found the relaxed, mellow energy I got from this drink to be pleasantly relieving. CBD drinks with lots of caffeine often leave me feeling anxious again once the CBD wears off, but Vybes was a more calming experience that left me feeling lifted for the rest of the day.
Vybes drinks also have a pretty, chic-minimalist design and taste great. They’re just an overall joy to carry around and sip on.
Final Verdict: 8.7/10
Let’s put it all together: what’s our overall take on this drink?
It tastes great, it’s pleasantly relieving, and uses all-organic ingredients, so overall we really like this drink. The only real knocks on Vybes, in our book, are the price point and the use of isolate rather than full-spectrum.
If you’re looking for a stylish, mellow anxiety-reliever and you can afford it, Vybes is a great choice. If you’re looking for more potent therapeutic doses at a better value, then we’d recommend other full-spectrum drinks that offer more bang for your buck (or just using a full-spectrum oil).
Where can you buy Vybes?
According to Eppers, Vybes is now available in 21 states. While there’s no list of retailers, on their site Vybes says their drinks are sold at “natural food stores, cafes, coffee shops, gyms, and restaurants.”
We found them in San Francisco at Sidewalk Juice, a high-end juice bar. Put simply, look for Vybes in upscale retail venues that might sell expensive health and wellness products or beverages.