HCB Q & A: Austin Stevenson, Chief Innovation Officer at Vertosa
We caught up with Austin Stevenson for a Q & A about the innovative tech behind Malus.
Austin Stevenson is the Chief Innovation Officer at Vertosa – cannabis industry experts in advanced infusion technology. In the development of Harmony Craft Beverages (HCB), Austin’s company leveraged their technology to design a fast-acting acting cannabis ingredient for Malus. It was important to Austin to support the HCB team through the design process, with a focus on innovating an authentic cannabis experience.
As a result, Austin’s team developed a Sour Diesel Live Resin emulsion ingredient to enhance the sensory experience for Harmony Craft Beverages. This new beverage innovation provides consumers a new way to consume cannabis – through beverage, with a familiar and authentic experience using an ‘OG’ Strain: Sour Diesel.
HCB: What makes you most excited about Malus compared to other cannabis beverages you’ve worked on?
AS: What makes me the most excited about Malus is the flavor profile! Many cannabis beverages today are simply sugary fruit drinks (something you’d typically have with a little umbrella in them…) however, the de-alcoholized cider infused with Sour Diesel Live resin provides a beautifully crafted and sophisticated flavor profile. It’s a nod to the Cannabis ‘OG’s’ and aficionados; and anyone who loves the cannabis plant!
HCB: Can you describe what considerations went into sourcing the cannabis ingredients in Malus? How do these components play a role in the end experience?
AS: It was important to us to source ingredients that would provide an authentic cannabis experience; both in flavor and how it makes your feel! As a result it required VERTOSA to undergo a very strict quality assurance (QA) sourcing process. Additionally, because Vertosa is a cGMP laboratory we follow strict quality control (QC) manufacturing processes to ensure Harmony Craft is using the best quality of ingredients that consumers can trust.
HCB: Why have cannabis beverages been notoriously difficult to infuse and how is Vertosa addressing these challenges?
AS: Infusing cannabis beverages is complex, mainly because THC, CBD and other cannabinoids are oils/fats, they’re hydrophobic, or more simply put, oil and water does not mix. Therefore, Vertosa provides the key technology (nano-emulsions) to unlock the potential of cannabinoids by transforming oil (extracts) into a compatible, reliable, and stable ingredient that is easy to use in beverage manufacturing.
HCB: Can you describe the role of nano-emulsification in providing an evolved cannabis beverage experience, like with Malus?
AS: In addition to ensuring oil (extracts) are evenly dispersed in water, VERTOSA’s nano-emulsion technology creates a FAST-ACTING experience. When you drink a Malus you can FEEL the cannabis within 10-20 minutes. This means consumers no longer have to wait for cannabis to kick-in like traditional edibles. This technology innovation has been critical to the evolution of cannabis infused products. Now with Vertosa’s tech, consumers can enjoy a ‘session-able’ drinking experience, consumers can reliably predict the onset of the beverage and begin to understand their tolerance level (i.e. know how 1, 2, or 3 feel during a ‘session).
HCB: Where would you like to see the cannabis beverage tech and consumer experience 5 years from now?
AS: Over the next 5 years as the CIO of VERTOSA I am focused on designing new experiences that consumers want, desire, and love to share with friends and family! I’d love to see product evolution follow the path of consumer’s curiosity. It energizes me when I go to dispensaries and see shoppers asking bud tenders about terpenes, and which strains will get them to their desired mood state – energy, euphoria, relaxation, as examples. Admittedly, A LOT more research needs to be done to truly dial-in mood state, and validate efficacy…so what I desire most over the next 5 years is for product developers to embrace consumers curiosity, experiment, and invest in more research and development to continue the evolution of cannabis products.
HCB: What does “Live Harmoniously” mean to you?
AS: “Live Harmoniously” to me is living a balanced life. Finding harmony in the balance of your mind, body, and spirit. And embracing that balance to discover many moments of joy everyday!