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A Better Taste Of Your Own Medicine - By zruskin - July 12, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

A Better Taste Of Your Own Medicine

When deciding which flower to purchase, cannabis consumers face information overload. You have to consider a strain’s given effects, its THC and CBD content, the origin of the plant, and the tons of fine print affixed to each jar or baggie. However, despite the myriad details available, most people are still swayed by the tried-and-true metrics of weed smoking: smell and taste.

How flower smells and tastes is a huge selling point. That’s why the team behind Yofumo — a new device geared to the post-harvest process — is ready to help the industry make some serious dough.

To understand what Yofumo does, one must first truly grasp what defines the smell and taste of the cannabis we smoke. Cannabis, like any biomass, derives its flavor and aroma from terpenes — organic compounds that emit odor. Some terpenes, like pinene, produce a flavor reminiscent of pine needles and also carry known antidepressant properties. Thus, when you sniff a bag of the strain Jack Herer, you’re likely to get a whiff of conifer.

But what if instead of smelling (and tasting) a single tree, you could get the rich flavor of an entire forest? That, in essence, is what Yofumo has set out to do.

“Our focus is on enabling the post-harvest process of biomass,” says Alfonso Campalans, CEO and founder of Yofumo.

Yofumo units are designed to both cut down the time of cures — the process between drying and the finished product after cannabis is harvested — and to provide a consistent, repeatable process that is both safely germicidal and fully sterile.

“If you can’t ensure the cleanliness or the sterility of the product when you put it in to cure — because you have to cure it at high humidity — you’re going to get yeast and mold when you pull it out,” Campalans says. “Understanding that fact underscores our ability to do everything else.”

Joe Edwards, a “Best Flower” winner in the Clover Leaf 2016 Cannabis Business Awards, says he was recruited to become Yofumo’s Cure Master after being offered a sample of his product treated with the company’s unit.

“During the third or fourth meeting [I had with Yofumo], they presented me with a joint,” Edwards says. “I smoked the whole thing to the end. I can’t remember the last time that I did that. The whole time, they were razzing me a little bit about what I was smoking, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was familiar but I couldn’t say what it was.

“Then they told me it was my cannabis, and that they’d cured it through their technology,” he adds. “When I was finally able to pick my jaw up off the flower, I in no uncertain terms asked for a job.”

As Campalans explains, the need for refined curing capabilities is the result, in part, of the rapid increase in demand for product.

“Once cannabis was legalized, the industry basically upsized their standard operating process for harvesting and for growing,” he says. “Really, there was no thought about the post-harvest process because most cannabis is grown and dried and it’s ready for sale. That’s it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s really ready.”

While enhanced flavor profiles are certainly the star of Yofumo’s show, more practical applications are equally important. To this day, improper cures risk contaminating plants with bacteria like E. coli and fungus like Aspergillus. The post-harvest process is simply where the bulk of human contact comes into play with the plant, and reducing that necessary contact means safer product for all.

So how does it work? Essentially, Yofumo puts cannabis through one of four cure cycles. “Plant on self” is intended to bring out the true maximization of a given strain’s capability, meaning a strain known for hints of lemon is suddenly bursting with citrus. “Partial plant” homes in on some specific elements of a strain, while “natural exotics” uses non-GMO compounds to bring in complementary terrene profiles — perhaps adding notes of lime to an OG Lemon Kush or cardamom to add spice and elevate a strain’s mint flavor. Lastly there is “plant on plant,” in which an exact replica of one plant’s terpene profile is created to bolster another.

Currently, Yofumo is geared toward industrial sales, but the company hopes to have personal units for sale in the near future. Edwards and Campalans are also happy to tease about what the future may hold, noting that while cannabis is the primary focus for now, the applications of their technology can be expanded to the produce aisle of your grocery store and beyond.

“Terpenes are the building blocks of everything we smell and everything we taste,” Edwards says. “Understanding them in one biomass is in a lot of ways understanding them in another. That’s really been where the research has taken us.”