The pricey pod-based Beed from an L.A. startup is the joint-rolling party trick that post-pandemic folks deserve.
Beed, a toaster-sized, automated joint-rolling machine that officially hits the market May 1, desperately wants to be the Nespresso of weed, and there are a couple of things that make that an apt comparison.
It’s got a sleek monochrome exterior (in a range of eye-pleasing colors) that would make it look right at home next to your Cuisinart on the kitchen counter, and the pods it uses bear a striking resemblance to the half-domed capsules that pop into a Nespresso Vertuo espresso maker.
Instead of ground coffee, though, Beed’s (recyclable) aluminum pods come pre-packed with ground cannabis flower that’s been nitrogen-flushed to stay fresh for 18 months.
There’s another similarity to a high-end espresso machine: a triple-digit price tag. The Beed costs $299, which feels a little on the expensive side for something any self-respecting weed head should be able to do quickly and easily. (In full disclosure: Even after a rock-star joint-rolling tutorial, I still roll joints that look like gnarled arthritic candy canes.) That price feels even steeper when you realize it’s twice that of Otto, Banana Bros.’ flashlight-shaped mill-and-fill gadget that does the same thing — without the proprietary pod system (sleeves of eight .5-gram capsules that make a joint each).
I didn’t think I or anyone for that matter needed a $300 Nespresso of weed (no matter how fetch it looked on the coffee table). However, the folks at L.A.-based start-up Beed offered to send over a test unit, so I decided to put this gizmo through its paces. Now that I’ve done that, I have some thoughts.
Pro: It’s super-easy to use
If you can turn on a bedside lamp, you’ll be able to master the Beed in no time at all. I went from box-opening to rolled joint in well under three minutes (and most of that was spent trying to open the child-proof sleeve of pot pods).
A single button on the top of the unit does everything and a hidden slide-out drawer on the bottom holds the spent aluminum pods. Press the button once and the top slides open to reveal a narrow chamber where supplies go — first the paper cone (tip-side down) followed by the capsule with the flat side up.
These instructions are on a seven-step, quick-start guide, but it’s so intuitive you’d have to already be pretty high to screw it up. Press the button a second time and the top slides closed, the machine does its business and, about 20 seconds later, an oblong panel on the front flips open at a 45 degree angle, revealing a fully filled cone ready to twist closed and fire up.
Pro: It’s delightfully designed
While it certainly looks handsome from afar, only once it’s right in front of you does it become a thing of singular beauty. It will take a few minutes for it to dawn on you that the pulsing ring of light framing the button telegraphs its readiness. And a few minutes more to realize the place to drop the pod is framed by two elegantly thin parentheses of light (wholly unnecessary unless you roll under cover of darkness).
The ultimate design flourish comes when the narrow front panel angles out, and the joint is displayed on its thumb-thick, lit-from-inside perch like a cannabis Cleopatra reclining on a litter of suffused white light. Even the sound of the Beed at work seems engineered to please. It’s a low, throaty rumble that’s electric pepper grinder meets purring lap cat.
Con: You’re married to the pod
Like with the Nespresso Vertuo, buying this machine means you’re buying into a proprietary pod system, which means you’re limited to six “Be"-themed options in a range of THC:CBD ratios (“Be High,” “Be Relaxed,” “Be Social,” “Be Active,” “Be Productive” and “Be Better”), with eight-pod sleeves selling for an MSRP of $32.
Sesh-wise that means if someone shows up and throws down some serious sticky bud, you’ll have to back away from the Beed and roll up old-school. (Perhaps like another proprietary coffee-meets-pod system — Keurig and its K-Cup pods — there will eventually be a fill-your-own option, but that’s not currently the case with the Beed.)
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Con: You still need to put in (some) effort
The filled cone that dramatically pops out the front door isn’t quite a finished joint since the open end still needs to be twisted closed to keep the kind grind from going AWOL.
For the best burning results, the contents of the cone need a serious tamping before the twist-up, either with a small implement (the back end of a pen will do) or by pinching the open end closed between thumb and forefinger and giving it a half-dozen vigorous sugar-packet flicks of the wrist.
If there’s one complaint about the otherwise flawless Beed experience, it’s not that this needs to be done but that such a crucial step was somehow omitted from the quick-start guide.
Con: It’s expensive
No number of cheery colorways (vibrant pink and mint green among them) or well-thought-out details obscures the simple fact that buying one of these machines means making a serious investment in weed-consumption technology.
That being said, Beed is hardly the first brand to serve up laughably luxe pot paraphernalia. Storz & Bickel has managed to make a business for more than two decades now selling its Volcano vaporizers in the $500 range, and the much newer (but equally wallet-punishing) Stündenglass gravity bong sells for $599.
If you’re at all familiar with the those products, you might realize they have something besides a price tag in common: They’re both showy crowd-pleasers.
The Volcano is designed so that vaporized cannabis majestically fills a balloon-shaped bag that can then be passed from person to person. The gravity bong is impressive too, its twin water- and smoke-filled globes somersaulting over each other to propel a thin jet of smoke from the end of a hookah-like hose.
Like them, the Beed is a conversation-starter, a pot-party novelty, an impressive ganja-slinging gadget that nobody needs but everybody wants to see in action. No, I definitely don’t need a $300 Nespresso of weed, and I’m guessing you probably don’t either. But the thing is, after putting the Beed through its paces, I kind of want one on my coffee table the next time I’ve got a party to kick into high gear.
And, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
The Beed machine ($299) will be available at beed.co starting May 1, followed by Amazon later this year. At launch, pods ($32 for eight 0.5-gram capsules) will be available all Artist Tree dispensary locations, select MedMen locations and via delivery through Beed’s website in partnership with Grassdoor.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.