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Peak Extracts – Portland, OR
DOPE’s tech issue wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Katie Stem and Kate Black, the Portland power house cannabis couple at Peak Extracts. The synergistic pairing of these two women has created something of a phenomenon in the extraction world. Stem and Black brought their individual talents and experience together to form Peak Extracts in 2014, then expanded into the recreational market in 2016, boasting a proprietary Terp-Lock™ extraction method. Stem describes the procedure as, “a process that delivers a unique full spectrum cannabis experience” and is what she says keeps Peak Extracts a notch above their competitors. The women originally focused on strain specific chocolates, which Stem found helpful in managing her Crohn’s Disease, but five years later, the company has created a cannabis/herbal cream, a vape pen and cartridges, as well as a new line of high-terpene tinctures that are flying off the shelves.
Stem brings a scientific pedigree to Peak. She first majored in pre-med (and literature) at Carleton College, then completed 10-plus years of research in various labs, experimenting with physiology, pharmacology and neurology. Add this conventional medical education to Stem’s licensure as a Nationally Certified Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist on top of her status as a medical patient since 2004 and boom! Cannabis CEO extraordinaire.
In 2009, through a friend of a friend, Stem was introduced to Kate Black, a designer and chocolatier, while they were both outside of Roseburg on the Umpqua River. A few years and one love-story later, Katie and Kate are co-owners of Peak, and Terp-Lock™.
Stem and Black employ their super-secret process in all of their products, for reasons that become obvious when one considers the results. Peak’s new vaporizer cartridges, which focus on high CBD, terpenes and CBG, are the only CO2 cartridges available in the market that retain 95 percent or more of the original terpenes. Rescue Rub, a hypoallergenic topical salve made from an exclusive recipe of traditional Chinese herbal medicines and cannabis concentrate concocted by Stem herself, can be helpful in treating inflammation, pain management and blunt-force trauma. Their gluten-free and vegan strain specific, couverture chocolates are so popular that they are the second-highest-selling cannabis chocolate in Oregon.
You’re probably thinking, “What in the heck does couverture mean?” Couverture refers to a high-quality chocolate that contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter (32–39 percent). This additional cocoa butter, combined with proper tempering, gives the chocolate more sheen, a firmer “snap” when broken and a creamy flavor.
These products wouldn’t be possible without Ernest, the extraction machine that Stem and Black perfected their low and slow proprietary extraction process on. The device originally came with a female name. Little did Katie and Kate know, that renaming Ernest would cause a riff with the extraction company, who insisted their machines have female names. In fact, one of the employees said it, “made them uncomfortable having been ‘all up inside’ of a machine with a man’s name.” The ladies recall looking at each other and wondering if he understood that Earnest was a machine. The two know how to poke fun at life.
In fact, all of Stem and Black’s machines have unorthodox names: Chocobot is the special robotic machine that specializes in homogenization. Georgio is an Italian robot that tempers and dispenses the chocolate evenly. Phillip is in charge of filling bottles of tincture, while Phyllis fills cartridges. Their walk-in refrigerator is named Georgianne Walkin’, after Christopher Walken’s wife … get it?
And there you have it. Two women, some machines, a lot of patience and perseverance combined to create a singular cannabis company for an industry that Stem and Black love thriving in together. The two share the same sentiment saying, “Our products give people an amazing ability to tailor what they need. Whether they need an indica or sativa, an edible or an extract.”
Stem and Black also partner and invest in companies they feel embrace their same values, such as Yerba Buena and East Fork Cultivar. If you want to find Peak Extracts’ products you’re in luck — more than 150 retailers across Oregon carry their products. However, if you want to meet the ladies and their robots, well, I was blindfolded, spun around 37 times, then driven to an undisclosed location for my tour and interview. Their super-secret extraction technology is safe and sound.