CANNABIS CULTURE – When I look back on 2020, the first thing that will pop in my head is the line from the old Scottish Proverb. “The best laid plans…”
Who would have guessed how much the world would change and how much the famous Amsterdam coffeeshop experience would be impacted by the Covid pandemic. The coffeeshops have been set up for “Take away” only since
It still looked like,2020 was going to be awesome in January. I had just arrived back in Amsterdam after spending the previous 2 months in California and Las Vegas, sampling some of the PREMIUM Cali buds from my home state and the best of the best in Las Vegas. You can see my reviews of what I found at YouTube.com/captainhooter. Needless to say, after hitting all the PREMIUM BUDS at home, my standards were super high when I started my work on the follow up to my book “The Connoisseurs Guide to Amsterdam Coffeeshops” that was published in 2018, by Sunbury Press – https://captainhooter.com/#book
The new project would be called “The Top 20 for 2020” and would maintain the exact specific high standards, that its predecessor had set.
In the first book, I became the first person to test out EVERY SINGLE COFFEESHOP in Amsterdam (167 of them) and review them all in a similar fashion as the Michelin restaurant reviewers do, when they review the best restaurants.
I was completely random and anonymous in my visits to all the coffeeshops and I did and said, the EXACT same words and phases at each location, to be as completely fair as possible. I purchased one gram of whatever was their BEST cultivar they offered / recommended that day.
With the Michelin reviews, the quality of the food is premium, but it’s only one of the FIVE factors that are considered, when they make they’re picks.
For me, I was looking at these 5 Factors in making MY picks:
Quality / Variety of Cultivars
Overall Cleanliness of the Coffeeshop
Cannabis Knowledge of the Budtenders
Overall hospitality / friendliness to the customers
Convenience of location to great restaurant options / attractions
In 2018, my Top 20 “Best of the Best” Coffeeshops Winners were: (Alphabetically)
Boerejongens Coffeeshop Bij
Boerejongens Coffeeshop Centrum
Boerejongens Coffeeshop Sloterdyk
Boerejongens Coffeeshop West
Easy Times Coffeeshop
Katsu Coffeeshop & Gallery
Prix d’ Ami Coffeeshop
Green House Coffeeshop (Tolstraat)
Het Ballonnetje Coffeeshop
La Tertulia Coffeeshop
Smoke Palace Coffeeshop
The Plug / Utopia Coffeeshop
The Stud Coffeeshop
Following the publishing of the book, I created the weekly Amsterdam cannabis show, “The Weekend Bud Report” https://tinyurl.com/WeekendBudReports. Each week, I would go to 5 of different coffeeshops and I would pick out 5 different buds, and then I would interpene the buds, to show cannabis seeking tourists, with their own eyes what the buds really looked like “up close and personal” with a high powered microscope. `I would share how much that bud cost and how smoking the buds effected ME. After a year of reviews, I was ready to begin working on the follow up to the first list. I had to have a Top 20 for 2020!
For this top 20, I would need to change a few things. FIRST of all, there was no need to go review all of the shops again. There were so many that would never be able to make the list… SO what I did is, I selected all the winners from before and I mixed in all the OTHER coffeeshops that ALMOST made it last time and included any NEW superstar coffeeshops, that had arrived after the last book was published.
I threw all the names into a hat and started the exact same testing process, as I did the very first time. Everything was dependent upon THIS ONE VISIT. Even if you were a previous winner, if on THIS DAY, something was messed up… they were out. Nobody knew when they were being reviewed.
My testing / reviewing took place in late part of January and all of February, finishing JUST before the COVID-19 put a HARD STOP, to hanging out in coffeeshops in March *. This is a full list of all the coffeeshops that were RE-TESTED and reviewed, with the cultivar that was suggested and sampled and the price paid that day.
ALL of these coffeeshops were eligible to win for 2020.
Baba Lot’s of Zkilltles 18.00
Bluebird G4 15.00
Boerejongens Bij Mexican Strawberry Haze 11.00
Boerejongens Centrum Super Strawberry Haze 15.00
Boerejongens Sloterdyjk Magic Candy Kush 16.00
Boerejongens West Shoreline Choco HG 16.00
Bulldog Palace G-13 12.00
Coffeeshop Amsterdam BB Glue Haze 17.00
De Bommel Key Lime Pie 15.00
Dampkring Motor Breath 14.50
De Kade Johnny Blaze 16.00
De Kroon Fruitcake 18.00 De Overkant Hortus Girl Scout Cookies 14.00
DNA Amnesia Haze 11.00 Dolphins Tesla Power 15.00
Eastwood Rolex OG 14.00
Easy Times Purple Grinspoon 20.00
El Guapo Big Buddha Cheese 14.50
Family First Family Gelato 14.00
GOA 4G 18.00
Green House Effect Gelato 33 18.00
Green House Namaste Super Lemon Haze 13.50
Green House Tolstraat Karel’s Haze 18.00
Green Place Gelato Cake 18.00
Grey Area Zombie Kush 18.00
Het Ballonnetje Mango Sapphire 20.00
Ibiza Green Crack 20.00
Katsu Vanilla Kush 10.00
Kooi White Russian 18.00
La Tertulia Lavender 16.00
Loft Gorilla x Candy Rain 15.50
Mr. K and Co. Orange Soda 15.00
Nieuw Amsterdam Tangerine Dream 14.00
The Plug / Utopia Gelato 30.00
Prix d’Ami Peanut Butter Breath 30.00
Rusland Wedding Cake 18.00
Strain Hunters Cheetah Piss 26.00
Superfly SuperFly Kush 13.50
The Store Night Terror 17.00
The Stud Blue Sherbert 16.00
The Corner Coffeeshop Sherbalato 25.00 T’keteltje Blueberry 9.00 Tweede Kamer LA Confidential 14.00
Voyagers Rollex OG 16.00
*Strain Hunters coffeeshop opened in September and was tested and reviewed the second week after they opened.
SO WHO WON?
We have 3 NEW WINNERS and 17 REPEAT WINNERS on the NEW LIST!
The TOP 20 for 2020 (alphabetically)
Baba Coffeeshop (FIRST TIME WINNER)
This is one of the great “comeback” stories for the Amsterdam Coffeeshop history books. Baba used to be located in what was arguably the best location, in town; as premium of a location you could ever want. Then they moved to a new location and poof, it was like they just disappeared. The new location was just far enough out of the center, that few tourists were willing to make the extra effort to find them in their new digs. Then last year, there was a major shift in personnel and magic started to happen. New Affiliation with DNA Genetics along with the addition of PhenoFinder seeds as the in-house seed company, began a new era for Baba. DUDE, it’s worth the extra walk. NOTE: If it’s available, the KOSHER KUSH here, is on another level.
Bluebird Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
My favorite “Happy Hippy Hiker Hangout”. I always meet the most interesting tourists in this LEGENDARY gem of a shop. The G4 they were serving up during my test date was top notch and as always, one of the most hospitable coffeeshops in town. Being one of the oldest shops in town, this is an EXCELLENT spot to meetup with locals and world travelers with great stories. They have TONS of repeat customers who have been coming back for decades! I have never left without meeting somebody new and interesting. The G4 I smoked that day, was a great representation of the cultivar and right on the money for 15 Euros. NOTE: If they have any CHOCOLOPE on the menu… grab it.
Boerejongens Bij (TWO TIME WINNER)
This is the first of four of the best options in town. The “Farmer Boys” coffeeshops are very simply THE BEST COFFEESHOP CHAIN IN THE NETHERLANDS. Period. This is what the coffeeshops would look like, if APPLE were to run them. Everything is SPOTLESS and clean. Budtenders are some of the best trained, professional and friendly in town. The buds are consistently epic and THIS location is like the little sister to their WEST Store, which is less than a one-minute walk away and It always has a slightly different menu than the WEST Shop. It’s always worth the walk, just to see what’s on the menu. On testing day, they had a MEXICAN STRAWBERRY HAZE that had me going! That buzz gave me enough energy to walk to Italy! It was exactly the type of “hidden diamonds”, you can find over here.
Boerejongens Centrum (TWO TIME WINNER)
This is the shop that most tourists will visit that don’t have a car. It’s the perfect representation of the brand, with all the Amsterdam Genetics premium offerings in this convenient location. First let’s talk Style. All the budtenders wear lab coats and gloves. They have a cute little smoke room up on the second floor, that may be one of the coolest spots to smoke in town. The SUPER STRAWBERRY HAZE I tried, was one of their best of the season. Easily one of the very best choices in the Centrum area. The EDIBLES from Amsterdam Genetics are the most beautifully crafted and tasty in all the Netherlands. Don’t let the looks deceive you. They will spank you if you get greedy!
Boerejongens Sloterdyjk (TWO TIME WINNER)
When the HEADQUARTERS SHOP first opened, it was just when I was finishing my first book. The day they opened I was there to see the beginnings of what was to become their true MEGASHOP. This location looks like Louis Vuitton and Apple, made a baby building. THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL SHOP. The place is perfect. Super convenient with their own secure parking lot and high standards for all the bud, hash and edible offerings. As with the others, featuring the best trained, best educated bud tending team around. The MAGIC CANDY KUSH they suggested on testing day, put a spell on my momentum that day. Kushy Kicked my ass. This is the beginning of something HUGE.
Boerejongens West (TWO TIME WINNER)
This was the first Boerejongens I had ever visited. I was greeted out front by a SMILING Security guard wearing a Bowler Hat. I think it was the first person I had seen smiling, at a Amsterdam coffeeshop at that point and that same vibe carried me through the whole experience. What I learned, is that this group of shops is beautifully managed by truly passionate owners and managers that are constantly innovating the coffeeshop experience with new products, new cultivars and new custom accessories. They were also one of the very first Coffeeshop chains to have the budtenders wear gloves when handling the buds and hash. They were way ahead of the game. This year they started a new “HG” Homegrown series, and the SHORELINE CHOCO HG I sampled on testing day was a perfect representation of high quality Dutch Buds, a reasonable 15 euros a gram price. Smoking a bowl on the park bench next to their shop, looking over their canal is one of my favorite smoking spots.
Coffeeshop Amsterdam (TWO TIME WINNER)
This is the best, most consistent option on the Harlemmerstraat. Super modern and stylish. I LOVE this shop in combination with my “Breakfast of Champions” which is munching down an Irish Breakfast, sitting at the front window at Barney’s Uptown, with a Mimosa while puffing a fat doobie, all at the same time. I always pick up my buds here at CA first. If you missed breakfast, this shop has a spacious three level design with great hanging out options on all of them. You will find many Amsterdam Genetics offerings here as well as a wide range of great drinks, milkshakes, smoothies and space cakes. One of the best Ice-O-Lator and Hash options here as well. The BB GLUE HAZE I scored on testing day sealed the deal, on an easy repeat win, for this wonderful coffeeshop.
Dampkring Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
Another one of the LEGENDARY shops in town and for good reason. This shop regularly comes up with cultivars that NOBODY else has in town and they are all top shelf winners. The MOTOR BREATH I picked up on their testing day was mind blowing, which is also a good way to describe the interior of this trippy Shop. It’s so cool inside! This shop has maintained itself as one of the best, driven by the killer buds and by one of the very best budtender teams in the city. “Highly educated, patient and kind”, would be the three attributes I observed first hand on their testing day. I sat back and observed them working with several groups of first-time smoking tourists. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
Easy Times Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
Totally love this place. Killer buds in a killer location. Perfectly located on the Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal), this is a perfect launching point, to all the best things to see and do in town. One of the largest menu’s in Amsterdam, with a LARGE list of Top Shelf Offerings. The PURPLE GRINSPOON they had during the test, was as tasty as it was a unique art piece, out of it! This is a super hip shop, that should be a must stop for any true Cannabis or Hash lover. You can grab a Volcano and Slip into the back and experience a mellow, harem-esq vibe.
Family First Coffeeshop (FIRST TIME WINNER)
CONCENTRATE LOVERS LISTEN UP. This is your coffeeshop. They had JUST opened up when my last list was published, so they just missed out but NOT THIS TIME. Family First, jumped right up into the front row on my very first visit. That was before I knew who and what Family First really was. There’s epic history here. This shop used to be called The Bush Doctor and was created by famous Italian Racing Driver, Luca Moro, who passed away early in 2014 at the age of 41. Turns out, that way back in the beginning, Luca Moro’s Bush Doctor was already KNOWN for having wax. They were dabbing, before dabbing was in! Luca’s son Mauro is running the show now and he has wasted no time in blasting forward from where his father left off. Their Johnny Dab WAX and MAD BEAR Diamonds are a great call and their FAMILY GELATO was one of the best “bang for the buck” picks overall.
GOA Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
I used to live about a one minute walk away from GOA, in the red-light district and close to the Dam Square. Within that same radius is about 10 other coffeeshops. I found myself coming back here, again and again. The classy and calming asian decor, along with the comfortable seating and CONSISTENT killer bud options, always separated them from the crowd. MANY coffeeshops located in this super busy section of town, seem to lose their manners and their customer service. It seems like the staff would rather be anywhere but THERE. NOT GOA. The bud tending teams I have witnessed here, have been some of the most patient and kind in town, even with the line out the door. The 4G cultivar, I picked up on testing day, was a great deal at 18.00 a gram and made for an excellent “PDD”- Pre Dinner Doobie, before grabbing some killer Chinese food right down the street, at Oriental City. This is a Killer combo! Sit at the window and look out at one of the best people watching spots in the world.
Het Ballonnetje Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
The Red Ballon is a fascinating shop. Located close to a university, it has a developed a really cool relationship with Bothe students and the SENIOR market, that lives there too. So on any given day, you might find a student standing next to a granny in line… both looking happy to be picking up buds, in this warm and welcoming two level coffeeshop. This balloon has been popping since the day I arrived. Always spotless, with super friendly and helpful budtenders, they have maintained consistent stream of high powered cultivars, that don’t pack high powered prices. The MANGO SAPPHIRE I sampled on their testing day could have been easily been priced higher, as it was some of the tastiest and stoniest of the week. There is a Bagels and Beans store, next door, which makes this a killer Wake and Bake choice.
Katsu Coffeeshop & Gallery (TWO TIME WINNER)
LONG before I was rolling around as Captain Hooter, I was rockin’ and rolling into Katsu for their unique distribution format and groovy art gallery style hangout. Art is everywhere, featuring prints from Rolling Stones Guitarist, Ronnie Woods, Katsu provides the perfect spot to wake and bake or pass away, an afternoon. This Kat has one of the largest menu’s around and everything here, is prepackaged. You can pick up bags of multiple sizes, preloaded with 5 grams as easily as 1. On testing day, they recommended some Vanilla Kush for 10 euro a gram, that was easily one of the best samples of the day. If I lived close, this would be my day to day shop, for sure. Their killer location, in the middle of the famous Albert Culp Outdoor Market, allows you to smoke and stroll in style and sample a zillion tasty morsels, along the way.
Kooi Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
This was one of the newest coffeeshops in town, when my first connoisseurs guide was published and this absolutely stunningly beautiful shop, has only gotten better with time. Located in the place of the Old, Old Amsterdam Coffeeshop, KOOI busted out like a rocket with a solid bud and hash menu to compliment its ridiculously beautiful Bird Cage Gold Foil designed interiors. Easily one of the most “Hangable” shops in the city, This place OOOZES Luxury. Combine that with a solid bud tending crew, and unique top shelf buds, it makes KOOI a must stop when you are cruising around the Rembrandtplein.
La Tertulia Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
WOW! If you thought this beautiful shop couldn’t get any better… you were wrong. 2020 gave them the opportunity to do a complete renovation inside and amplify the unbelievably mellow and spiritually connected vibe it’s known for.
Featuring a wide array of perfectly placed plants, waterfalls, crystals and complementing artwork, this two-level shop exudes the style and focus of this awesome Mother & Daughter owned, coffeeshop. They are known for their all BIO Menu, and is one of my go-to spots to find cultivars created by local growing legend, SOMA. His LAVENDER was being featured here on testing day was some of the best I had ever tasted. The hospitality in here, is off the charts. Everything you eat and drink is super tasty and their hangout spots inside and out, are perfecto.
The Stud Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
THE BEAST IN THE EAST! This Powerhouse Coffeeshop is a legend to tourists and locals alike. When I wrote the first book, the Stud was the first coffeeshop I found, where it was like going to the Bar at CHEERS. In addition to being the coffeeshop home for the local AJAX Football club fans, there is always a great cast of fascinating and experienced cannabis legends that call The Stud their home shop. This place has earned such high respect from the locals and their reputation spread to the rest of the world. All the true cannabis loving tourists who come to Amsterdam looking for the the Best find the Stud. Everything here is perfectly pre-packaged so no need to worry about any STICKY Fingers stripping your buds. This shop also features the STUD STORE, which is the BEST supplied COFFEESHOP STORE in Amsterdam featuring a wide range of SUPER High Quality gear and goodies. Their Indica Brand is sick. Absolutely love it. This shop ALSO opens EARLY, so if you came in on a red eye – THIS is a perfect first stop, to kick off your visit.
The Plug / Utopia Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
When I first visited this shop, The Plug had just partnered up with Utopia. Within a WEEK, the place was popping. It was crazy. Lines out the door like I had never seen. The fresh new offering were unlike anything people had ever seen in Amsterdam. There were New Cultivars Galore from all over the place! Then, they opened up the breakfast bar cafe next door and my mind was properly blown. This is the proper 1-2 Punch I had been looking for. These guys did not mess around. Since then, it has continued its’ climb into one of the tippy top best shops in town. They offer one of the largest and most diverse menu’s in town, with a large selection Top Shelf, (Top Dollar) offerings. I paid 30.00 a gram for the Gelato on the testing day and it was worth every penny. After they came, I found out that The Plug brand is a Worldwide phenomenon. I’ve now had the chance to visit The Plug locations in Los Angeles and Barcelona with the QUALITY maintaining legit, all across the board.
Tweede Kamer Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
Due to technical publishing errors, Tweede Kamer was omitted as a winner in my first edition, but in fact, they should have WON and in fact received my recognition award as the others. Tweede Kamer totally aced it last time, just like they did this time. One the friendliest and knowledgable bud tending teams in the business, this remains one of the most popular shops in town. Everything works beautifully there, starting with their convenient central location. Everything is spotless, with a great menu featuring Amsterdam Genetics offerings and a wide array of hash’s and iceolator offerings, as well. RIGHT NEXT DOOR may be the single greatest combo for a smoke. It’s a cookie store that only sells ONE type of COOKIE. People line up down the street; Seriously long lines. It’s a Van Stapele cookie, Valrhona dark chocolate cookie on the outside, filled with melted white chocolate inside and served warm. The Cookie/ Doobie blend, is off the charts and make it a MUST STOP COMBO.
Prix d’Ami Coffeeshop (TWO TIME WINNER)
I tell people, “If I was arriving by train to Amsterdam Central this morning for my first visit here, my first stop would be PRIX d’ AMI”. It’s the perfect introduction to Amsterdam Coffeeshops. The closest shop to the station with absolutely everything you need to kick off your visit. They are the biggest shop by a LOT. The displays in there are perfectly placed depending on what you are up for. The Bud and Hash options are HUGE. Their TOP shelf is some of the best in town. The food options are awesome, the drink options are epic; what more do you want! They even watch your bags for you up front, with their killer security team. Prix was one of the FIRST to have the budtenders wear gloves; they were THE FIRST to add a temperature camera at the entrance to make sure everyone is healthy, coming in. THESE GUYS CARE and it shows everywhere. SINCE I moved here, Prix d’ Ami has been my most consistently excellent experience at a coffeeshop. The Peanut Butter Breath I picked up on testing day was so tasty, and so beautiful, I made a photo art piece out of it.
Strain Hunters Coffeeshop (FIRST TIME WINNER)
SLIDING IN UNDER THE WIRE! Just when I was wrapping up the last bits of this years picks, a new player came into view. Well, not a NEW player actually. A HUGE PLAYER. Strain Hunter’s was originally a tv show series that was created by the Green House coffeeshop owners Arjan Roskam and the late Franco Loja. The shop looks and feels like a beautiful tribute to the two of them. I was very fortunate to meet Franco at my first Cannabis Cup in 1995, when the Greenhouse won with their epic “White Widow”. He was the kindest and most hospitable man I had met, on that visit. FEELING his presence in here makes this shop just perfect me. Located In the former location of the Cafe 420, it’s a GREAT SPOT right in the middle of everything. Combine the best of the Green House Buds and add in the new collaborations with the COOKIES Brand… and BOOM. On top of that, even though it was busy, and early in its existence, the shop was spotless clean. The CHEETAH PISS cultivar I tested was excellent and the budtending service was some of the best I have experienced from a Green House based shop, for a long time. I LOVED IT. There is no doubt that this new coffeeshop is going to be a huge hit for years to come.
When I began this mission to pick the best for 2020, I was always imagining it as a new BOOK. I kept waiting for the virus numbers to drop, and wished for the times when travel and hanging out at the coffeeshops would return to normal. As the days and weeks went by, it became clear that this WAS the new normal, and people were not going to be returning to familiar visiting patterns for quite a while. As of December 1st 2020, all coffeeshops are still TAKE OUT ONLY. It looks like it’s going to stay like this for quite a while, until vaccinations and distributed, and the infected numbers drop significantly. Putting out a book right now, when money is so tight for everyone, doesn’t make sense to me. NOT recognizing these awesome coffeeshops and the fantastic service they provided to smokers from around the world, wasn’t right either. THEY EARNED IT.
Please join me in celebrating these “Best of the Best” Amsterdam Coffeeshops for 2020, and come visit them in person when world gets back to “normal”.