Doors opened Friday (May 5) at Taos 420 Cannabis and Coffee, Taos' first dispensary-cafe, two-in-one business.
An open interior with a geometric paint job extends from the retail space to a lounge at the end of the building, where customers can partake in the complimentary coffee — a feature inspired by the coffee shops of Amsterdam that Cannabis and Coffee Business Manager Biff Rodriguez visited years ago. According to him, these coffee shops would sell cannabis products but were still primarily cafes. Rodriguez’s vision is slightly altered, as his establishment is primarily a cannabis retailer.
The location was found by owner Lori Gonzales, who thought the drive-through option that came with the property aligned with their idea of a dispensary-cafe. Once settled, Gonzales and her team installed the proper equipment, such as a climate-controlled vault to store all cannabis products and ensure freshness.
Customers are offered to smell the flower, which is stored in large jars behind the counter. Once a strain is picked, the budtenders weigh the product and package it in front of the customer.
In line with maintaining a fresh inventory of cannabis products, Gonzales has plans to construct an indoor growing facility, in which local cannabis strains can be cultivated with state-of-the-art equipment. The current plan involves a “skid” of equipment, according to Rodriguez, which will ensure all plants receive proper water and nutrients. In addition to the skid, a lighting system will be installed to hover over the plants, using infrared light — to slowly ascend as they grow.
“We’re looking out for our customers,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not here to try to be competitive; we’re trying to offer quality products at a good rate, so that everybody that’s putting something of ours in their body, they know that they’re getting quality stuff. Because it’s medicine, and a lot of people are using it as medicine, so we want pharmaceutical-grade products in everything that we produce.”
By growing with an indoor facility, he added, they can double their harvest, which will have received proper care and organic nutrients. To Rodriguez, quality and accessibility are both key aspects to the dispensary.
“We’re going to make sure that we can price our indoor grow — which is a lot better quality — at a reasonable price,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of the indoor grows you see on the marketplace are anywhere from $3 to $8 more a gram, sometimes even twice as much [as an outdoor grow]. When we start doing ours, even though it’s an indoor grow, and we’re going to get a huge electricity bill, we’re going to try to keep our product at a reasonable price, so that everybody can get quality flower.”
As for the cafe portion, Rodriguez provides coffee from Kona Coffee, whose beans are freshly ground every day.
“We want people to start looking at this as their home away from home,” Rodriguez said. “If you’re tired, you’ve worked a full day and you gotta drive outside of town to go home, and you really don’t feel like making that drive and you just wanna take a little break from your world, come up here, kick up your feet, enjoy some coffee, relax, listen to some music, have a conversation with our friendly staff — that’s really what we’re looking for.”
More than being a place of refuge, Rodriguez hopes the presence of free, quality coffee will help erode the stigma surrounding cannabis. To him, having both cannabis and caffeine under one roof might “bridge the gap” between taboo and normalcy, furthermore adding that the dispensary doesn’t “reek” of cannabis, so those who don’t partake in the herb might not be bothered.
However, Rodriguez aims to make the location an on-site cannabis consumption area in the future, which would be a first for Taos. To do so, the business would have to fulfill both state and town requirements for on-site consumption and submit an application.
Other future plans are already being set in motion, including a second dispensary location in Tucumcari. According to Rodriguez, that will be a two-story structure, with the second level serving as a dedicated coffee lounge. Additionally, they are working on developing an app, so that customers can create a profile with their legal ID and order online for in-store pickup.
Taos 420 Cannabis and Coffee is located at 1103 Paseo del Pueblo Sur and is open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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