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Dampkring Coffeeshop - Amsterdam Coffeeshop Review

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Dampkring Coffeeshop - Amsterdam Coffeeshop Review
Photo © Flickr User Ballistik Coffee Boy

The Bottom Line

This Amsterdam institution has satisfied customers since 1993 with its superior menu - one that's fetched several Cannabis Cup accolades - combined with helpful service and a cozy ambiance within its creatively decorated walls.

Description

  • Address: Handboogstraat 29
    Phone: +31 20 423 6040

  • Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. - 1 a.m.,

  • Location: Amsterdam Center, 1.7 km/1.1 miles from Central Station.

  • Directions: From Central Station, start south down Damrak, and pass Dam Square; continue south on Rokin, then turn right at Het Spui; look out for small Handboogstraat on your left. The walk takes approximately 20 minutes. Alternatively, take tram 1, 2 or 5 to Koningsplein.

  • Décor: A comfortable coffeeshop atmosphere with some surreal accents.

Guide Review - Dampkring Coffeeshop - Amsterdam Coffeeshop Review

Situated on a narrow alley, around the corner from pedestrian fashion row Kalverstraat, De Dampkring (Dutch for "the atmosphere" - i.e., the one that surrounds the earth) stands out on the nondescript street thanks to an unusual but attractive lacquered-wood exterior. Step inside, and the interior poses an even more dramatic contrast with the world outside. While the floor plan is more or less typical for a coffeeshop - a cannabis counter, bar area, and a cramped assortment of tables and chairs, countertops and bar stools - the decor transports visitors into a fluorescent wonderland where sculpted walls, vibrant colors, a '60s-era soundtrack and the smoke-saturated air can make visitors feel stoned even before their first toke.

As in many other coffeeshops, visitors must head to a separate counter, located at the back of the premises, to order their product; at peak times, a queue snakes halfway toward the door, but service is brisk and efficient, and the others in line are usually up for a chat to pass the time. At the front of the line, customers can take their choice from a wide selection of some of the best cannabis in town: marijunana, hash and the so-called Rifman Hash (surely a reference to Morocco's Rif Mountains, where much hash is cultivated); loose, in pre-rolled joints or in "space cakes". Strains such as the Ocean's 12 Haze - a permanent reference to the fact that a scene from the Hollywood blockbuster Ocean's 12 was shot there - top the list of popular strains. (Note that the availability of strains varies.) The staff is patient and well-informed; I've witnessed them capably answer all types of questions, from the basic to the nuanced.

Once equipped with their cannabis of choice, smokers can settle in at a private table, the bar, or a windowside perch - the last of which is where a laid-back white cat often curls up to nap. I prefer the bar, where one is bound to strike up a conversation with some of the coffeeshop's chilled-out patrons, whether local Amsterdammers or tourists from halfway around the world (some who are determined to squeeze in one last joint before their trip homeward). Once the munchies hit (inevitable with some cannabis strains), there are pressed sandwiches and sweets on offer, in addition to made-to-order milk shakes and smoothies; for those who fancy a stroll, another option is to head one block over to Vleminckx Sausmeesters, widely considered the best French fries in town. But it can be difficult to leave the precincts of this Amsterdam institution - between the first-rate cannabis, the radical decor and the overall positive atmosphere, De Dampkring has firmly established itself as one of the top coffeeshops in the city.

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