Local Coffee Spotlight: 11th Hour Botanicals

When I stopped by 11th Hour a couple weeks ago right as they opened to talk with owner Jenn Buker, another customer had already beaten me to the punch. She ordered the double Bee’s Knees– a double shot latte with hazelnut, vanilla, cinnamon and honey. This drink was warm and cozy, with a lot going on, just like 11th Hour Botanicals itself. A combination of skincare emporium, spa, CBD shop and espresso bar, 11th Hour has colorful art lining every wall and something interesting to look at on every available surface.

Since coming to Vermont for college, I have embraced the local coffee scene and also dabbled a bit with local CBD coffee products. Snowcap Cold Brew and Abracadabra Coffee Roasters both make CBD-infused cold brew cans. I enjoyed both cans, but to be quite honest, I’ve never really done a lot of research into the benefits of CBD or how it specifically is processed inside the body. When I found out that there was a new espresso bar right in my college town that also offered CBD products and infusions for lattes, I was intrigued and curious to learn more. 

Before trying some CBD coffee on a whim this spring, I had never considered using CBD before. For some reason, the idea of hemp scared me a little, probably because of its association with the marijuana plant and the psychoactive compound THC. However, CBD (cannabidiol) does not cause a high, and talking to Jenn about her reasons for using CBD and including it in her “spa-fé” wellness concept made me a bit less apprehensive to experiment in the future.

In terms of coffee, 11th Hour offers an espresso bar (so no drip coffee, but pretty much any other delicious espresso drink you can imagine) and a range of creative latte flavors, with plenty of alternative milks and keto-friendly options to choose from as well as the choice to add in flavor or CBD to your coffee. They offer CBD-infused coffee from Strava and source their espresso locally from Earthback Roasters, a Vermont micro-roaster.

So far, I’ve tried their iced americano, pumpkin spice latte, and Bernie’s Mittens CBD latte, which is an almond mocha. While adding CBD and non-dairy milk will bump up your total, I definitely enjoyed the drinks enough to make it worth it.

I came to 11th Hour for the coffee and came out a lot more educated about CBD, and with a better understanding of the journey of this small, woman-owned local business during the pandemic.

“I use CBD, and I’ve used it for years because I have a connective tissue disorder that brings a lot of pain in my body,” Jenn explained to me. In addition to pain relief, many people use CBD products to manage symptoms of anxiety or to improve sleep. I wasn’t exactly sure how the relaxing effects of CBD would combine with coffee, which I usually think of as an energizer, but I was excited to find out by trying the Bernie’s Mittens latte, an almond milk mocha latte with a CBD infusion. I am not the most discerning CBD consumer, but I really enjoyed the latte flavor, which was not overwhelmed by any dankness the CBD may have brought to the table, and did feel physically more relaxed during the rest of the day

Although she now runs four different businesses simultaneously, before last year, Jenn was primarily an aesthetician running Pro Skin Studio out of the same store space. 11th Hour represents a “pandemic pivot” for her business. The pandemic necessitated a temporary closure of her spa business due to the risky nature of in-person, close interaction with clients. During this time, Jenn started growing her own hemp and had it turned into a surprisingly high-quality tincture. Combined with a spontaneous vision for a coffee bar to make her wellness-focused aesthetician services and CBD shop more accessible to the community, 11th Hour was born in January 2021. The name comes from the late planting and harvest of her first hemp crop.

“We didn’t get our plants in the field until July, the first and second week of July, that’s late. That’s the eleventh hour,” explained Jenn. She herself is not a smoker, and wanted to create a place where folks in the community curious about CBD could come in and ask questions without being intimidated. 

The combination of pandemic struggles and a charming but hidden storefront tucked away in Middlebury’s Marbleworks district has made it hard to spread the word.

“The hardest thing in the world is getting customers to know where you’re at. I’m a one woman show,” said Jenn. Consider this me shouting it from the rooftops: if you’re in Middlebury, go investigate! 11th Hour is quirky and confusing, but absolutely worth exploring. I can definitely vouch for the coffee and the awesome ownership. As far as CBD goes, I would leave it to Jenn to explain and show you the good stuff. 

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