Boerejongens (Dutch for ‘Farm boys’) has several well-known and high-profile coffeeshops in Amsterdam. They have a leading look, a quality that can be noticed both in the shops themselves and in the employees, including a ‘neighbourhood host’ in a suit. They follow the winning combination of selling products with a high quality standard and keep their prices as low as possible. Boerejongens attracts a large audience and when opened in Amsterdam, customers from all over the world decide to pay them a visit. It’s about time we had a chat with this well-oiled machine (giggle) about their style, their seed line and their brand, Amsterdam Genetics.
I meet Marlies at Boerejongens West, the coffeeshop on the Baarsjesweg, and immediately we started talking about the origins of the shop: ‘Is it true that Boerejongens started over 10 years ago?’
Marlies: ‘Indeed, Mariska started the shop where we are now almost 11 years ago. Boerejongens Coffeeshop BIJ on the Bonairestraat, was opened some time later. Three years ago we also opened a beautiful establishment in the Utrechtsestraat. Back then, this all started with Mariska's chance to take over a coffeshop and change completely its course. She already had many years of experience of work in and around coffeshops, but for her own shop, she wanted an innovative concept and wanted to offer the best quality weed from Amsterdam at the lowest price. Over the years, this has grown into the beautiful concept that we now have, including staff uniforms, high-quality service and the special design of the seed packaging.’
Marlies with two Boerejongens
Azarius: ‘What is it that makes you different from the rest?’
M: ‘The extensive menu is our greatest strength. We want to offer the best quality for the lowest possible price. We prefer not to have Amnesia on our menu rather than selling bad Amnesia. To ensure quality, every bud in the store has been checked. We have more than 50 different types of weed and 15 varieties of hash (blocks) of Amsterdam Genetics strains. That top quality is what we’re very proud of. Also, our shops are individually designed in a special way. Every store has its own style, but they all have an open atmosphere.
We’re also proud of our spacecake line, it’s Michelin-Star worthy. We call it 'Spacetry'. It’s really delicious and a feast for the eyes. Here too we stand 100% behind our product and we advise our customers extensively about the functioning of edible products.
Next to our extensive menu, our main characteristic is that we are very service orientated. We have somebody in a suit and a bowler's hat greeting you at the door, that’s our neighbourhood host. Hospitality is our top priority, and we take the care for the neighbourhood very seriously. The irony, however, is that customers see this, but people from outside the industry don't always notice it.’
A: ‘Why is that?’
M: ‘Unfortunately, we still have to deal with the stigma that surrounds coffeeshops. We try to actively change that image. Slowly but surely this is going in the right direction. Everyone who visits our stores immediately sees how things can be done differently.
We show commitment to the neighbourhood as a whole. For example, we take care of green spaces and we have bought extra trash cans. And of course there are our previously mentioned neighbourhood hosts. They welcome visitors, but they will also ask them to turn down music from their cars and switch off the engine when needed. We also help the neighbour who needs a hand in taking her groceries upstairs. With their suit and their bowler hat our neighbourhood hosts fit the classy look of the shops. They help visitors to take into account the people who live around the shops.’
A: ‘What is it like to deal with municipal regulations? Can you understand why it is the way it is?’
M: We can manage well, despite the grey area we are in. The legalization of growing would be the next best thing! For the moment, for example, we are not allowed to have products tested in laboratories. Therefore we can’t label them for the customer, while it would be nice to know exactly what you’re smoking.’
A: ‘How did the brand Amsterdam Genetics establish itself?’
M: ‘There was simply so much demand for our own seeds that it seemed like a good idea to start our own seed line. We wanted a more international name than Boerejongens; tourists can hardly pronounce that name, haha! For a local coffee shop that individuality is powerful, but with our seeds we want to leave a worldwide impression.
We started with Amsterdam Genetics two years ago and it’s doing extremely well in Europe and the US. The word 'Amsterdam' in your name has a certain attraction there. And however great the successes are that America is seeing with legal growing, that knowledge for a very large part originally comes from the Netherlands. American growers are making huge steps, but they’re not necessarily more advanced than we are. What people in the Netherlands can do is remarkable, and that knowledge doesn’t come out of the blue. Americans recognize this and this is also the reason much Dutch knowledge has been exported to the US.’
Handmade Mango Haze hemp soap by Amsterdam Genetics, available here.
A: ‘Right in front of Amsterdam Central Station is a Coffeeshop Information Center, an initiative of Amsterdam Genetics!’
M: ‘We wanted a place where cannabis enthusiasts would be well informed about cannabis (use) in the Netherlands and the best coffeeshops, before entering the city. Top quality real CBD is also sold here: oil and melt tablets. And you will find beautiful merchandise and other 'smokers essentials' from Amsterdam Genetics.
As far as we are concerned, there isn’t enough initiative to properly inform interested people about the effects of weed, the rules in the Netherlands, and how to deal with a coffee shop visit in Amsterdam. 70% of the accidents that the GGD (the municipal health service) in Amsterdam reports are due to inexperienced use of space cake or magic mushrooms. We are happy to change this with thorough information. In addition, in our shops we are often asked about the city's regulations: what are you allowed to carry with you and where can you smoke? We help people with that. In addition, we recommend reliable coffee shops with high quality weed and good service.’
A: ‘Do you have any other running projects?’
M: ‘Always! Our flagship store and fourth coffeeshop at Sloterdijk Station has just opened and has truly become the most beautiful coffeeshop of Amsterdam. Will we see you there?’