Fresh Baked is a cozy storefront on Boulder's Pearl Street. (The Cannabist)

Fresh Baked (recreational shop review, Boulder)

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.

Fresh Baked (rec shop review, Boulder)
A single-gram sample of Phnom Penh from Fresh Baked in Boulder. (The Cannabist)

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.

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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.

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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.

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The lowdown

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.