Higher than the rest

14er Boulder grow operation

I’ve never had a more seamless COVID-19 cannabis purchasing experience. I logged onto the sleek website, found the two products I was after and within moments, my phone chirped with a message from 14er Boulder: my order was ready and waiting for me.

When I arrived at the storefront on Mapleton Avenue, I was in and out in only a matter of moments, gourmet local chocolate THC bars and gummy boxes in hand. It was fast — almost too fast.

But that level of service is what’s required of businesses like 14er in times like these.

“One of the hardest parts was losing the ability to talk with the customers about the bud,” Joe Wright, one of 14er Boulder’s co-owners, says. “It’s created some efficiencies, where we can handle more patients and more customers per day, due to the fact that everything is done online… But we’re definitely missing that interaction with our patients.”

To make up for that loss, though, Wright and his team have invested a lot of time and effort into fine-tuning and streamlining the online ordering process. They needed to offer an alternative to the customer-budtender interactions of yore, without sacrificing their ability to share intimate knowledge of 14er’s bud and bud-products.

So, they went back to basics, back to the roots of their weed, and tried to capture the essence of each strain on a webpage. The task, they say, wasn’t so easy.

“We wanted a lot of the personality of the products and the nuances of the strains to come through the website,” Zach Shapiro, the art and marketing director for 14er, says. “We’re doing what we can to provide a digital kind of, ‘replacement experience.’”

It’s an experience that will work until 14er can bring its customers and patients back into the store, to talk bud with the budtenders and get that full 14er Boulder experience.

“There’s nothing like face-to-face, but you know, we’re working with what we got,” Shapiro says.

14er Boulder has been around since the early days of legal cannabis. It officially started in 2009 (back when bongs were still “water pipes”) as a strictly medicinal cannabis company. And it stayed a medicinal company for some time, even after recreational weed was legalized, in order to maintain its medicinal customers.

“We had the opportunity to immediately switch over to recreational and convert our medical license,” Wright explains. “But we had such an affinity and such buzz for our medical patients, we delayed that in order to have a medical and recreational license.”

14er Boulder raises its boutique cannabis from seedling to sapling to flowering nugget; it designs custom packaging for every individual “house-strain”; it makes its own solvent-less, hydrocarbon-free concentrates and oils at its lab; it teams up with the best local partners to make its edible confections; and it tries to convey that level of crafted excellence, online.

Which, I think it’s safe to say, 14er achieved.

Garrett Creamer

Browse the company’s virtual bud library, and you’ll find strains you won’t see anywhere else, accompanied by descriptions that sound like something out of a sommelier’s wine catalog. “This heavy indica is both hashy and earthy with a deep berry aroma. The hashy, berry flavor is instantly noticeable and lingers on the tongue for an extended period of time,” goes the description for the blackberry banana Kush, for example.

“Every strain is so nuanced and affects people so differently, we really wanted to kind of embrace all the character each strain has to offer and describe the folklore behind them,” Shapiro says of the website.

14er has always pursued cannabis with this level of zeal for the plant and its medicinal qualities. It’s been fine-tuning its bud for years, and that comes through in the quality of its flower, concentrates and edibles.

“The 14er Grow Crew has been creating and cultivating high quality differentiated genetics and flower for over a decade,” Wright says. “Besides our 14er team, our most critical input is the flower we grow.”

The high-quality products 14er offers have been a huge selling point through COVID-19, Wright explains.

“I think people are very conscious of the products that they’re putting in their body, with COVID being on the front of everyone’s mind,” Wright says. “So, having clean, solvent-less concentrates and, you know, hydrocarbon-free products are just a lot better for your lungs.”

Wright also mentions that the company has seen a slight shift away from vapes, pre-rolls and other inhalant products, and an uptick in edible sales in recent months. With a respiratory illness like COVID-19 on the loose, people seem to have a higher interest in consumable cannabis, he says.

Lucky for 14er customers, the company’s edibles are just as carefully crafted as the bud that goes into them.

“We were extremely strategic and surgical about introducing a new edible and making sure that it’s something that the consumers really wanted,” Wright explains. “We didn’t have an edible for some time, and instead of just starting from scratch, we wanted to team up with somebody that had been doing edibles for years.”

That’s why 14er reached out to the Colorado CBD edible company, KJL. The two companies worked together to create a blackberry pomegranate fruit chew (which they mindfully paired with 14er’s blackberry banana Kush terpenes and oil), and a Blood Orange Mango chew (paired with Tropicana terpenes and oil).

“They’re very unique in that sense that they are actually strain-specific,” Wright explains. “They use our 14er flower and our 14er terpenes for the flavor profile.”

The flavors of the terpenes and the fruit chew itself work in concert together, drowning out any residual cannabis taste. These edibles have the consistency of a Starburst and a tangy flavor that could stand alone as candy (even without the THC kick that comes with it).

And 14er’s gourmet chocolate bars are every bit as good.

Garrett Creamer

For these, it chose to partner with a local gourmet confectionery chocolatier company, Fortuna Chocolate. Together they made a Milk Chocolate with Pistachio & Pepitas bar and a 70% Dark Maldon Chocolate with Sea Salt bar — both containing 100mgs of 2-to-1 CBD/THC, for maximum body buzz.

Fortuna sources its ingredients from connections with small cacao farmers in rural Mexico, which convinced Wright it was the ideal partner for 14er’s edible chocolate bar. Plus, “[Fortuna] makes all their organic chocolate from scratch,” he adds.

The result is dangerously delicious — both of these THC chocolate bars are masterpieces in confection, have no cannabis flavor, are strong, and melt in your mouth.

The quality of 14er’s products, plus the attention to detail when it comes to marketing, reflects the quality of people who make up the 14er Boulder staff. The growers, the concentrate lab and the dispensary staff are all dedicated to the singular goal of making good cannabis products and getting them into the hands of those who need them. “They deserve a huge shoutout,” Wright says.

It’s a level of commitment to cannabis that’s not easy to come by — and it’s what has defined 14er Boulder’s brand since it began 11 years ago, inspired by the mountain peaks it’s named after.

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