How to choose a right coffee shop in Barcelona? Who is a budtender and which role he plays in delivering the best experience to a weed lover? We asked 4 city visitors about their first experience in Barcelona Weed Coffee shops.
By Valeria Taggart
Thousands of tourists from all over the world come to Barcelona each year not only to enjoy the sunny beaches, visit Gaudi museums, eat sea food and watch flamenco. More than 300 Weed Coffee shops are open in Barcelona giving city guests the opportunity to experience the ease of consuming cannabis without being legally liable. However, it seems to be impossible to choose the right cannabis club when you have limited time and great plans to explore the city. Lack of information, too many clubs, lack of time and careless promoters.
The experience starts outside
When you go to the theatre, you check the performance program and the tickets price online. When you want to buy shoes, you do benchmarking and choose the shop with the better choice, quality and price. The visit to the coffee shop also starts with the investigation. We ask questions, check the web pages etc. For 80% of people the coffee shop experience starts with meeting the street promoter.
“My friends who visited Barcelona before, told me that I should go to La Rambla and I will find hundreds of promoters”. (Elisa, Italy)
This is true. However, unfortunately, when a Coffee shop uses too many street promoters it is a bad sign indicating that this place is focused on tourists. Why is it bad? For the number of reasons:
- Street promoters are not accountable for what they say.
“I met this Afro-American guy in the street. He was nice and funny, told me that he will show me the best coffee shop in the city with 20 different types of weed and eatables. It took a lot of time before I entered the club, this promoter already left; and I found out that there were only 8 strains available and there were no eatables at all. The budtender told me that it is not problem of the club”. (Elisa, Italy)
Unfortunately, this situation happens all the time in Barcelona. The membership system implies a registration fee, that is why promoters can earn good money. New clubs often use street promoters to attract clients. That is quite a common practice.
However, at the same time, there are numerous clubs that instead of attracting clients among locals (they obviously spend less money on weed and spend more time inside the club), try to get short-time benefits by attracting as many tourists every day as possible. Thus, all the weed experience turns to be a conveyer with rude personnel, bad quality of weed, incompetent promoters.
- The locals are indicating the reputation of the club
“When I first came to Barcelona, I was told that the best club is the club where the locals go”. (Gordei, Belarus)
This is true. The local clients value the instant choice of the strains, good atmosphere and professionalism of budtenders. That is why the reputation of the Coffee Shop correlates with the number of locals visiting it during the year.
- The touristic clubs often violate the laws and get closed
The legislation that regulated the non-resident memberships in the Coffee shops is very strict. If the Coffee shop mainly is focused on tourists and short-term effects, most probably it violates some norms. Numerous clubs are being opened and closed every year. The average lifecycle of such clubs is 1-2 years.
“…when next year I came back to Barcelona, I found the entrance of my Coffee shop being brick-encased. So, now I am picky when choosing a Coffee Shop”. (Stephan, Switzerland)
How to avoid these clubs from the very beginning and not spend time on following the street promoters and stay unsatisfied and disappointed?
- Use the Coffee shops’ websites or the specialized Instagram and Facebook pages to ask all the questions, check the feedback and get online invitations to the best clubs.
- If you still haven’t chosen the coffee shop and you want to choose on-site, do a small investigation, decide for yourself what are the main characteristic of the place you are searching for. When you meet the promotor in the street, ask him all the questions you are interested in. Show your knowledge of the topic. If the promotor cannot answer all your questions and hesitates to contact someone to get the answers, it means that the Coffee Shop has bad reputation and does not care about the clients.
Reception. Why so many requirements?
Okay. Finally, we are here. Normally before you enter the club, you get inside a small room which is called reception. This area is available for everyone. Anyone from the street can come there and ask the questions and decide whether he wants to become a member or not.
“He (the promoter) left me at the reception where already about 7 people were waiting their turn to make a membership card. The receptionist girl asked him his name and he left. I was standing far from the receptionist table and waiting for my turn. Suddenly the door of the club opened, and some guy appeared out of the blue. He asked those who were in the queue to give the passports, put them on the receptionist table that was 3 meters from me and went inside the club. I felt a bit weird at that moment”. (Stephan, Switzerland)
The experience of Stephan is a shining example of the classic touristic club behavior. People that get inside are almost forced to make a membership card. They are not explained anything correctly and even feel unsafe.
“I didn’t ask anything at the entrance, however, I had many questions. At that moment I just arrived at Barcelona and I didn’t know that Coffee Shops are legal. I was a bit afraid of people that helped in the coffee shop. The girl at the reception was rude and looked like a gangster girlfriend”. (Anton, Russia)
Do not be afraid and ask the questions! That is your right and you do not do anything illegal or wrong! If the employees refrain from answering your questions, then walk out the door.
When you come to the Coffee Shop you should be ready to be asked for the original of the ID or passport. Moreover, some Coffee shops would keep the copies of the documents and ask you to sign a terms and conditions agreement.
“I entered the club. It was very nice inside. The receptionist girl greeted me and asked how I found the place. She explained me the rules of the place and asked if I have any documents with me. I had to sign some paper, but she explained that it is a usual practice and why it is necessary. After that she guided me inside and showed me all the amenities of the place”. (Alex, Spain)
The less requirements the Coffee shop imposes on the clients the more careless the owners are. This is usually a sign that means that the club has bad reputation and probably violates the laws to get more profits.
Budtender – a hobby that becomes profession
The next stop – dispensary. A smiley face that meets you at the dispensary bar is called budtender.
Cannabis dispensary budtenders are a scare and valuable resource for medical marijuana patients and recreational consumers who seek for guidance on which products to try. The Coffee Shops that take care about their reputation know that budtenders can make an amazing impression for a club or make an experience in the good club unpleasant.
But what exactly makes a good budtender so remarkable and a bad budtender so terrible? With the help of our interviewees we have identified several basic mistakes that budtenders do.
The cannabis industry nowadays is determined to present an image that goes against the stoner stereotype. So, coffee shops avoid hiring budtenders who wear tie-dyed clothing, have nappy dreadlocks and blazing red eyes. If you want to know how the budtender SHOULD NOT behave, watch the Neflix TV show “Disjointed”.
(Source: TV series “Disjointed”)
“When I first came to this Coffee shop I was surprised to find out that all the staff behaved very professionally. The Argentinian girl that worked with me did not look high. She was wearing nice clean clothes, had natural make-up and was very pleasant”. (Alex, Spain)
Most of the Coffee shops that take care of their reputation see smoking culture from different perspectives and hire the budtenders who look and behave more professionally.
“In my experience, Budtenders tend to be a lot ruder when the coffeeshops are busier, and I find the environment far less welcoming than I would like. Those coffee shops that are focused on tourists are full in Summer time”. (Stephan, Switzerland)
“It was difficult to get close to the dispensary bar. Some people were even sitting and smoking there and did not want to move and give space to the new clients. The guy at the dispensary was pretty high and the girls who worked there were drinking beer while serving. Moreover, they refused to show me more than two boxes with flowers explaining that it is too packed inside”. (Anton, Russia)
As far as legally it is prohibited to promote the Coffee Shops and have public advertisement, the competition is high and the majority of the places try to provide good service. However, some of them do not take care about the best experience of each client.
“Last year my uncle was visiting me and I took him to the Cannabis Club. He used to smoke weed to ease the pain and he decided to start again. The girl at the dispensary was very sociable and kind, but she started telling us about the tastes and different effects of high of different strains. It was a bit irrelevant because my uncle was interested in some other characteristics of weed”. (Gordei, Belarus)
Extensive product knowledge is a big plus for a budtender. Budtenders who can tell the customer anything they want to know about the various flowers, hash and edibles contribute to the club’s reputation. The more information a budtender has on the cannabis products provided in the dispensary the better. And last, but not least important, a good budtender should understand the client’s needs correctly. Especially important is to know how to work with the medical needs clients. They require more attention and patience.
“The worst experience I had in my first Cannabis club was the dirty bong. It looked like it had not been cleaned for more than a week. I asked her to clean it, but I saw she was unhappy with that and I finally just cleaned the bong neck and used it how it was”. (Elisa, Italy)
The clean equipment is the most important thing to be considered when choosing the Cannabis club. Unfortunately, you never know it before you enter the club. But you can find the relevant feedback.
- Being high
- Being rude
- Not separating medical and recreational needs
- Having dirty hands and equipment
- Not knowing the product
Making the Right Choice
It is best to choose the most reputable weed coffee shops in Barcelona in order to get the best experience. Select the shop that has made its name in the cannabis industry. In addition, make sure that the staff is professional, courteous and have sufficient training.
Hold these vendors to a specific standard as you would anyone in the food industry or any other industry, as a matter of fact. Do not just settle for subpar service and always ask questions when you are unsure. If the employees refrain from answering your questions, then walk out the door. There are more than one popular weed coffee shops that you can go to, if you feel slighted.
- If you have any questions about the best Cannabis Clubs in Barcelona, do not hesitate to contact us to get information and personal invitation!