Colombian coffee, a visit to a coffee farm. Everybody has heard that Colombia has the best coffee in the world. The country is one of the biggest producers of coffee and it is considered to be premium in the coffee world. Funny thing, you won’t get great coffee in Colombia. Well, you will, but you really need to look for it. Colombians drink Nescafe and if you don’t specifically ask for a Colombian coffee, even in a coffee shop, that’s what you will get. Why? It is simply cheaper.
Halfway between Medellin and Cali lays the coffee region. The region where the best coffee in the world grows. And it’s beautiful! Wherever you go, whatever you do, you will see the coffee plants. Just on the side of the road, next to your car, not protected by any fences or walls. Everyone has a few plants in their back yard. They just grow everywhere, the climate is perfect for them.
How to visit a farm?
You have a lot of farms to choose from if you want to visit or simply purchase their product. If you don’t have a car, there is nothing simpler. You need to go to the main square of Salento/Filandia/any other town in the region and talk to the Jeep company. They will have it arranged for you. The jeeps leave every two hours until 5 p.m.
You can use the jeeps to travel around the whole region. They have a schedule, like busses and they are very affordable.
I arrived at the main square in the afternoon, after my visit to Valle de Cocora. I was sure that I will need to make a reservation for the next day. Luckily the next jeep was leaving only in 30 min. I visited a farm called Las Acacias close to Salento. Their coffee is incredible and my guide spoke perfect English. He brought me through the entire plantation – explained how the trees are planted, why, how the cherries are gathered. I was also shown how the coffee grows and how it is produced.
You will notice that a lot of coffee farms have banana trees on their plantations. Why? First of all they provide a shadow for the coffee plants. Second of all, the ground is healthier, as it is not a monoculture farming.
Coffee beans – the process
The beans are collected by the workers only when they are nice and red. They need to be picked up by hand, so it is a long and tiring process. Once they are harvested, the red skin will be separated from the bean with a special machine – a sort of a handmill. Those beans are then thrown into the water to separate good ones from rotten ones. The rotten ones will be floating on the surface, as they are empty, so they are lighter. The skin and flesh of the fruit – called coffee cherry – is edible as a snack or can be dried out and used as a tea-drink.
Only the good beans can then be dried in the sun. As there is a lot of sun in this area, they are being dried outside.
This is not over. Once the beans are dried out, the additional protection they have – a sort of shell, needs to be removed. Only after this process, we have a proper, dry, ready to roast coffee beans.
Freshly roasted, ground coffee after this precise process of choosing only the best beans is exquisite. At the end of the tour you can try it. But be careful, it’s very strong!