It was another gorgeous blue sky Colorado day, and once again, I found myself in Boulder looking for a quality recreational dispensary. My previous experience in Boulder was kind of “meh” and I felt that there had to be better options in this, one of Colorado’s most notorious cities for having great cannabis and the customers who are willing to pay a premium for it.
One of the places that I have been hearing is doing well for themselves is Fresh Baked, a shop that I had shopped at medically several years ago, but has since converted to recreational sales. The storefront is located on the part of Pearl Street right before it starts to get impossible to park, and is situated across the street from a large shopping center in a standalone building.
- Review: Fresh Baked Dispensary in Boulder (recreational purchase)
- Connect: 2539 Pearl St.; 303-440-9393; 10 a.m. – 6:45 p.m. daily
- Date of visit: June 17, 2014
- Rating: 7/10
Though the dispensary has its own parking, I ended up passing the building by mistake, making a U-turn, and just parking in the Mike’s Camera lot across the street instead (shame on me). As parking is a much-hoarded resource even in this area of Boulder, the smallish lot reserved for customers (comprised of maybe 10 spaces) is still a very nice feature for a dispensary to have, despite the penchant for Boulderites to walk or bike practically everywhere. The shop is a converted single-level house with a giant “NOW OPEN” sign out front; it was cheerful and welcoming, and I stepped inside the door to see if the staff was as friendly as the storefront.
Thinking back on my experience days later, I am still a little confused about the layout of Fresh Baked. On my visit, I was quickly asked inside the bud room after presenting my ID to the guy at the front desk, and after making my purchase, came out another door into a type of lounge area, which was complete with awesome old-school Ms. Pac-Man tabletop games and a few people I assumed were customers taking advantage of the amenities. I feel like I need to go back to walk through the shop again to get it straight in my head, as I even got turned around on my way out of the shop and ended up coming out the back door into the parking lot, rather than out to the front where I had parked. That little weirdness aside, Fresh Baked was well-lit and had a definite conversation buzz to it, making it seem to me like a spot that stays rather busy.
The bud room had two small glass counters that faced each other, both of which had identical products on display. My budtender (again, my memory fails me on the name, but I want to say … Danielle?) was the typical college-aged, hemp-necklace-with-chakra-aligning-jewelry-wearing Boulder budtender girl by appearance, but I was quickly impressed with her level of knowledge about their products.
She explained their strain organization system, which had the most sativa-dominant varieties to the left, moving to the indica-dominant varieties on the right, and told me I could smell any and to ask her if I had any questions. Each jar had the strain name and lineage displayed clearly, as well as an approximation of their sativa/indica dominance (i.e. 70/30 sativa, 50/50 hybrid, etc.). The flat pricing structure went from $20 for a gram to $60 per eighth, up to $360 for an ounce. While this pricing is definitely higher than many, the quality of flowers on display seemed higher than many as well. Ultimately, it’s just a question of whether one is willing to pay for quality or if the price rubs you the wrong way.
Asking my budtender questions didn’t end up being all that necessary, as each time I picked up a jar to smell it, she would start in with a more thorough description of the strain’s effects, all of which jived with my previous knowledge of the genetics. Fresh Baked had maybe 20 strains on display when I was there, but looking at their online menu over the past few days shows that I may have caught them on a low inventory day, as they are currently boasting over 30 choices.
I smelled literally every jar, from the sweet and crisp Jack Flash, to the funky, fruity UK Cheese, to the dank and musky Master Kush — all of them had a pungent, distinct and strain-appropriate aroma, which is rare for recreational dispensaries in my experience thus far. At most shops, there seems to always be a couple of duds on the shelf, but Fresh Baked was batting a very high percentage so far, impressing me to varying degrees with each jar that I opened. The only knock on the inventory was that some of the jars were a little pebbly, but that was the exception rather than the rule, as most of them were loaded with medium-sized, well-cured nugs.
I asked my budtender for a recommendation for a strain that would help with my nagging back pain yet keep me lucid and not come with any grogginess; she quickly recommended the Phnom Penh, which is a very sativa variety supposedly derived from landrace Cambodian genetics. Normally such a heavily sativa-dominant variety wouldn’t be recommended for back pain. The Phnom Penh has been tested and contains a higher than usual amount of cannabidiol (CBD), which is known for anti-inflammatory properties combined with low psychoactivity. This seemed a perfect recommendation in my mind. Though definitely tempted by the very proper-smelling Corleone Kush, I opted for a gram of the more clear-headed Phnom Penh, as I generally have a lot of work to do during the day and don’t have time for unexpected indica naps.
Fresh Baked had a few edibles, one of which (Stixx, a sugar-based edible produced by the At Home Baked brand) my budtender suggested as a good choice for me personally, as it was fast-acting for pain but easily dosed at 25 milligrams per container and come in “A.M.” and “P.M.” varieties as well as “CBD.” This type of product knowledge and smart recommendations (some might call it “upselling,” which frankly I can also respect) really put the Fresh Baked staff above most others that I’ve encountered.
“Danielle” (so sorry I didn’t remember your name, you really were a great budtender, I promise) did a great job of not making me feel rushed in the least and keeping conversation going the entire time while providing answers to any question or comment that I had.
After making my selection, she jarred it up into one of the obligatory child-resistant plastic prescription jars and I withdrew the required cash to pay my $20 total. Worth noting is that Fresh Baked is another cash-only dispensary, but they had an ATM in the lobby right outside of the bud room (unfortunately, it was not free and carried a $2 surcharge). Leaving out a different door than I came in, I spilled out into the aforementioned lounge area. I never thought of dispensaries as a hangout spot, but it seems that Fresh Baked has struck a chord with at least a few people, as there was lively conversation and plenty of pixelated dot-eating all around as I walked to the back door.
A few days later I actually got into my Phnom Penh. I wasn’t wowed visually by the flowers that I saw at the store, as several of the other varieties had better trichome coverage. When I got into the sample I purchased, it was the same deal; it was mostly plant matter with a smattering of trichomes visible underneath the pillowy, peach-colored stigmas that curled throughout the light green leaves and bracts. The gram I bought was made up of one approximately half-gram nug and a couple smaller ones, all of which looked similarly unimpressive. I think the appearance was more a result of the strain than anything, as certain varieties (especially CBD-rich ones) simply are not that attractive and flashy, hiding most of their trichomes on the inner surfaces.
In the plastic container, the sample smelled faintly sweet and similar to what you’d see in a Dutch Skunk/Haze type of hybrid — the aroma of the jar at the store was much stronger than that of my container, but that’s more likely due to the small amount it held than any actual lack of scent. Still, I could barely pick up a scent other than a faint, funky sweetness (like Cheese) in the hand, but as soon as I broke it apart, it released a very strong and much different aroma.
Sniffing my grinder, my nose was filled with a very interesting blend of fresh pine cleaner, menthol, and a little bit of sweetness. It got extremely pungent and seemed to change almost completely when ground up; it perfumed the room and I basically couldn’t stop smelling it as I was prepping to roll the joint. It smelled like several other strains that I’ve encountered, but I couldn’t place my finger on it — something between a Haze and the piney-fresh Maui cut that floats around Colorado, but far more pungent than the latter.
I took a dry hit off the joint and was pleased to find that it was almost exactly like the post-grind smell, which had me super excited a few minutes earlier. Once I lit it up, however, the flavor definitely didn’t match — it was muted by the presence of residual nutrients that left a metallic, “hot” feeling in my mouth almost from the start (think licking a penny). Flushing is such a key part of the harvest process, and though the sample seemed otherwise well-grown and had all the hallmarks of a solid strain, the flavor completely let me down.
The joint was tough to light initially (always a bad sign) yet didn’t have a problem staying lit once it was going; but the black exterior of the ash told me all I needed to know: There was definitely a flushing problem with this sample. The flavor was never all that distinct to begin with, but also turned south rather quickly. I could barely finish it because it was unpleasant after the halfway point.
The metal flavor still stinging in my mouth, I noticed the effects starting rather quickly (about five minutes after my first hit on the joint). There was a fairly immediate warmth throughout my body, but my extremities felt a little tingly and somehow energized. For what is supposedly an equatorial sativa variety, it wasn’t rushy at all and gave a smooth and easily directed energy that made it perfect for what I was looking for at the time. It didn’t actually exterminate my back pain, but it did make my body feel pleasant in general, and I imagine that if my issue weren’t so dire (collapsed discs in several areas), I would’ve felt much looser and relatively pain-free.
The body effect was the most apparent part of my Phnom Penh experience by far, though. Even at 30 minutes in, it felt just like it did five minutes in, which is good lasting initial potency. From there, the effect slowly dwindled away over the next hour and a half or so (putting the total at around two hours), always sitting in the background of tasks rather than influencing them. The strain definitely did its job, but the negative marks on flavor really damaged the overall picture.
I had high hopes for the flowers at Fresh Baked after my stellar in-store experience and the bevvy of strong-smelling choices they had on offer, but I felt a bit let down by the final quality. Perhaps I chose poorly and ended up with one of the only badly-flushed samples — but as the old saying goes, “one weak link can break the chain.” I’m definitely willing to go back to Fresh Baked to give them another shot, but for now, I was left wanting, especially considering the higher-than-average prices. A top-notch experience at the store only does so much for me; ultimately, it always comes down to the quality of the product on whether or not I recommend a store. For now, consider Fresh Baked a “close, but no cigar” type of shop; it is above the curve, but there are definitely areas to improve upon.
The must-try: I am kicking myself a bit for not going with one of the Kush varieties that I saw at Fresh Baked. The Corleone Kush in particular smelled outstanding and much better than other examples of that strain that I’ve encountered. All strains were priced at $20 per gram, $60 per eighth, and $360 per ounce.
The lasting impression: I need to give Fresh Baked another shot, because I feel like deep down, they are better than this rating.