Greetings from Amsterdam, home of the world-famous coffeeshop scene! Though the last decade has been marked by tremendous international progress for cannabis legalization, there is still no city quite like ours when it comes to embracing the plant and its culture.
There are currently 169 coffeeshops licensed to sell cannabis in Amsterdam. Most have ample lounges where you can pull up a chair, roll a joint and share a smoke with friends… or make some new ones. Of course, not all coffeeshops have the same quality of cannabis, and it takes an understanding of the local scene to figure out how to find the best connoisseur bud during your next visit.
In recent years, Amsterdam’s coffeeshops have been under political pressure as the local government has tried to modernize the city. The area south of the central train station is being redeveloped into a “grand entrance,” and in the process, the new high-end hotels, restaurants and shops have forced dozens of coffeeshops to close. While this is absolutely a setback, the coffeeshop scene remains vibrant in other parts of town. As long as you are over 18 years old, all visitors are welcome in the shops and there are still plenty to go around.
Something else that has not changed in recent years is the cannabis supply chain in Amsterdam. It may be legal for coffeeshops to sell cannabis, but it remains illegal for the same shops to buy the inventory. We call this the “backdoor problem.” Cannabis is legal leaving the front door, but illegal entering the back.
Because cultivators must do their work in secret, coffeeshops looking to secure inventory with guaranteed quality can face challenges. Some shops work very hard to lock in top growers and cement a reputation for connoisseur product. Others are just lucky to keep any inventory at all. This is why the quality can vary so much from one shop to the next — it is all about who is supplying the cannabis. When you spend as much time in Amsterdam as I have, you gain a perspective on this that few visitors are able to. These are our picks for the coffeeshops with the best cannabis in Amsterdam right now.
The name of this shop translates as “Farmer Boys” in English, speaking to this shop’s focus on the craft of cultivation. Boerejongens’ cannabis stock is grown from Amsterdam Genetics seeds. This is a well-known breeder in regional competitions, and it has numerous awards to its name. It tends to develop a lot of contemporary hybrid strains from America’s West Coast, including some solid Kush varieties, known for pungency and potency. There are actually two Boerejongens and a third partner shop called Bij and, in recent years, all three have earned a reputation for stocking a wide variety of very top-shelf flower.
If you’ve been to Barcelona, you might be familiar with The Plug. This is a popular cannabis social club in that city that is well-known for quality product. The owner has apparently long harbored a love for Amsterdam and dreamed of owning a coffeeshop here. Recently, he got the chance by striking a deal to buy the former Utopia Coffeeshop location. Though The Plug in Amsterdam is very new, only coming on the scene in 2018, this shop appears to be making true on its promise to bring top-shelf product to Amsterdam. We’ve been extremely happy with the flower inventory here, which features many high-potency strains, often with contemporary American genetics. If things keep up, The Plug coffeeshop is going to be a strong player in Amsterdam.
1e Hulp (“First Aid” in English) is a favorite shop for many locals and visitors alike. It is much more low-key than some of the other “high profile” coffeeshops in Amsterdam. It doesn’t advertise all that much (Amsterdam laws make this difficult), nor does it own souvenir shops or smoke-friendly eateries. However, 1e Hulp has a reputation for high-quality cannabis, one it appears to have earned primarily through years of hard work. Most people learn about 1e Hulp, first and foremost, through word of mouth, and that speaks to something. We’re regular visitors here ourselves and can’t recall being disappointed.
Seriously… did we even need to list these guys? Green House is simply legendary for its focus on cannabis genetics. The vast majority of shops and breeders in this world are content crossbreeding common strains, trying to develop new tastes and potencies. We love that work, don’t get us wrong. However, the team at Green House is on a whole different level. They travel the globe looking for landrace strains, which are original, unique cannabis lineages. I can’t think of another coffeeshop in Amsterdam that is as dedicated to cannabis genetics. They even have their own seed line, the Green House Seed Company.
This is essentially a take-and-go shop, though there is some limited seating here. It resides at the north end of the city center and sees a lot of foot traffic from people coming into the city. But the popularity of this shop is unquestionably due to one thing: cannabis quality. Voyagers works with some solid breeders on its strains. The selection isn’t enormous, so you should expect to find maybe six to 10 strains on the menu. However, the quality tends to be really on-point here. You’ll have a hard time picking. Voyagers has become a first-stop shop for many a cannabis connoisseur visiting the city.
You can’t make a best weed list without including this shop. Like Voyagers, Grey Area isn’t much to speak of with regard to size, seating or amenities. There are a few chairs, some stools and a few corners to squeeze into if you want. Otherwise, this place is a take-and-go. Its reputation for weed, however, is nothing short of legendary. This shop is owned by Americans and made a name for itself by specializing in selling American eighths, complete in traditional non-zip sandwich bags. It offered absolutely outstanding weed at very fair prices. It has evolved a bit over the years, so you’ll find regular gram baggies. The pricing isn’t as reasonable as it once was but, the inventory here has remained just as top-notch.
Coffeeshop Amsterdam has earned its place on this list. The establishment sits in a prime location on Haarlemmerstraat, a trendy street well-known for its coffeeshops. New management in recent years has completely revamped the place. The interior is now clean, modern and a bit funky. They have been working closely with strong breeders to improve the menu. This shop has always stood out for its roomy interior and chill vibe. Lately, it’s been getting noticed for its more upscale ambiance and product, too. This is one of the better coffeeshops in Amsterdam overall, and for sure a great place to find top-shelf flower.
Mr. K & Co.
This coffeeshop is another local favorite. Mr. K & Co. is currently working with Devil’s Harvest and Lady Sativa Genetics for their flower stock. The quality has been pretty outstanding. While it does carry an old-school variety or two (think Thai or White Widow), this shop is really known for contemporary strains (like Gorilla Glue or Kosher Kush). The management tries to stock rare strains when they can, so the inventory isn’t all “same same” when you walk in here. You can always expect to see an unusual item or two on the menu.
People that live in Amsterdam, no doubt, have an advantage over visitors when it comes to sniffing out quality. Locals are less distracted by the flash and eventually find the shops that serve the best quality or value. De Kade screams of this… and is for sure another locals’ favorite shop. At present, it seems to be working with an awesome grower. It has a good mix of strains as well, including some stand-out contemporary varieties.
This shop is another one with a really impressive menu. Again, there are a lot of contemporary strains here. Easy Times has some of the best Kosher Kush we’ve ever smoked, in fact! And that is one of the favorites strains among our staff, so when we find it, we usually grab it. If you see this on the menu, we highly recommend at least giving it a sniff before you choose. Can you say pungent?!
This is another iconic Amsterdam shop, with a long presence in this city. Het Ballonnetje recently caught the public’s attention when actor Samuel L. Jackson was photographed visiting the coffeeshop, though of course, this major celebrity appearance did not influence our rankings. In recent years, we’ve noticed that the management has really been focusing on their cannabis inventory and putting out some great flower in particular.
A shop with two Cannabis Cup wins already this year for flower closes out our Best Weed list. Bagheera is new on our radar, but certainly a shop we are keeping an eye on now. The inventory here has been remarkably high-quality as of late, and we’ve not been disappointed with anything we’ve purchased. We suspect you won’t be either.
TELL US, do you have a favorite Amsterdam coffeeshop?
Originally published in Issue 34 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE