Amsterdam Travel Guide
When you search for “coffee shop” in Amsterdam, the results don’t always give you coffee recommendations. When it doesn’t, however, it may give suggest a place where you can get some cannabis. So all is not lost. However, trying to find the best of both can be challenging. But that’s why we are here to help. No other city has helped bring the wonderfully complementary cannabis-coffee connection to the mainstream as Amsterdam has. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find one place that does both well. So we’ll have to break down our guide to this extraordinary Dutch city into separate categories, as you’ll have to divide and conquer to get the best of both.
The Dutch have a long coffee tradition and are famous for topping the lists of countries that consumes the most coffee. However, their coffee legacy has been traditionally limited to down-market instant brand Douwe Eggberts. Thankfully, though, things are changing. Like their Scandinavian neighbors to the north, third wave/specialty coffees have taken off in recent years. On a recent trip to Amsterdam, we explored some of the best independent roasters and cafes in town.
Near Lediesplein in the outer Canal District of Amsterdam is the flagship location of Bocca Coffee, one of the most prominent specialty roasters in the country. Like most interior spaces in the Netherlands, the design is impressive and makes you wonder why so little time and effort is spent on similar places stateside. The coffee quality and selection are exceptional and make this stand out as Amsterdam’s top coffee shop (for coffee). Their lighter-medium roasts allow for optimal flavors and the attention to detail goes beyond their coffee-crafting and interior design. Each single-origin espresso is served with a profile card that details the grower, altitude and tasting notes. The last time Craft Sense visited there were four single-origin espressos on, more than we’ve seen anywhere in the world. One of these was a very unique coffee from Cape Verde that had very strong notes of green olive.
In a less-touristy Southeast part of Amsterdam, is Rum Baba, a bakery and small roastery. Their coffee can be found in other cafes in the area including Coffee Bru. When we visited there were two espressos on of exotic origin – a Papua New Guinea and a Malawi. While both were good and the notes perceptible, it seems they roast their beans a bit darker, so we were left feeling that some flavors may have been lost and were a bit bitter on the finish.
Located in the Southwest of Amsterdam’s city center, Trakteren is a small independent coffee shop (for coffee) and roastery that features a blend and special of the month. The staff includes a World Aeropress Finalist and very friendly and knowledgeable folks. When we visited we had a smooth Colombian single-origin that was shipped to Holland on the Tres Hombres emission-free sailing ship. There is also a great selection of chocolates and teas that should also be tried!
This small cafe south of Amsterdam Centrum serves up a wide variety of beer styles from Belgium and the Netherlands. The friendly owner and bartender can help you select the right beer for you and also give you tips on how to pronounce them, as the names can be challenging for non-Dutch or Flemish speakers. Live jazz improv sessions make this place even better.
Unlike the proliferation of cannabis products in your typical US dispensary, Amsterdam has stayed true to its European roots by focusing primary on flower and smoking. Most dispensaries offer a decent range of hash and cannabis, including pre-rolled joints. While most coffee shops are very similar, here are a few pointers:
Top tips for cannabis coffee shops in Amsterdam
- Pre-rolls: Make sure that when you buy a pre-roll, there’s no tobacco. Tobacco typically amplifies the high.
- Edibles: Most coffee shops only had one type of edible – usually a cake or brownie that ranged from 30mg to 50mg. Now that may sound strong, but in reality it’s not. This is most likely because these edibles are not made from the same concentrated, high percentage THC oils that they are in the US. Go slow, as always, when in doubt, check out our guide. But don’t be surprised if a 50mg edible seems more like a 15mg edible back stateside.
- No cartridges for your vape pen. We also found that things like sun-grown, organic or testing for chemicals and mold were pretty much non-existent. Just consider it time travel and go old school with your cannabis in Amsterdam. Let’s hope that Dutch values of health and environmental-friendliness extend to their production methods in the absence of labels.
Boerenjongens is our top choice, with locations in the center and Southwest. They are much less seedy than your typical Amsterdam coffeeshop. White-coated budtenders in vintage pharmacy-style digs give friendly recommendations and clean, well-branded Amsterdam Genetics products. This is the closest thing we found to modern, upscale US-style cannabis retail.
Aside from having great coffee, Trakteren also has wide, curated variety of bean-to-bar chocolates. The staff is very knowledgeable about each and every bar, so don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or to learn more about the different bars they stock.
Our favorite place to buy chocolate from Amsterdam and elsewhere was Vanroselen Fine Chocolates. They carried a wide assortment of craft chocolates including a few brands that produce chocolate in the country of origin, which assures a greater percentage of profits and employment stay in country. This was refreshing and was heartening that it was something valued by the good folks at Vanroselen.