When we wake up in the morning, the first thing we want after our shower and before we go to work is a nice warm cup of Joe (American way of saying Coffee). Coffee gives us that kick we need in the morning and for some, throughout the entire day. Many varieties of coffee are served from all around the world and in the states, where Starbucks is the leading cafe, other cafes serve different blends to stand out. The Colombian coffee taste is one of the best in the world.
While touring through the country of Colombia, I decided to take a coffee tour being that Colombia is the third largest world producer of coffee production. For this tour, I had to travel to the coffee region of Colombia known by the Colombians as La Zona Cafetera which spans through the mid part of the country. The climate is beautiful in these parts of Colombia and the people are known as Paisas, where- as the coffee farming families are referred to Los Cafeteros. We started our journey from Cali, Colombia and took a bus to the city of Armenia.
In this post, you will find out how coffee beans are processed.
After the 2 and ½ hour travel to Armenia, we needed to hop into another local bus known as a ‘Collectivo’ to the town of Salento. There is Salento wherewe arrived in the town square and proceeded to search for a hotel or hostel, whichever, there are plenty to be found. Just about every hotel will offer tickets to a few coffee tours so you can take your pick. Although I need to warn you, that there are a couple of coffee tours that are far to get to, so it is best that you question about getting a horse or a jeep that can take you to the location. If you don't, you will find yourself walking for about 1 hour like we did to the coffee tour we decided to attend. When we arrived, the tour guide named Juan took us and another group of 3 into the coffee fields and began to explain about the history of the Colombian coffee plantations.
Budding Coffee Leaves
What I learned was that there are 2 seasons for coffee production. The first season being from March - May and the second season being from September - November, the former being the best season for coffee production.
One of the main coffee plants that produce the best coffee is called the Chapola which grows up to 70 cm high and the flowers blossom. The Chapola last for about 5 years producing coffee. Juan explained that the farmers will cut the Chapola twice before the cease to produce coffee. After the Chapola is cut twice, the plant will no longer produce flavorful coffee beans. Furthermore, Colombia had imported different plants from Indonesia which helped with the creation of hybrid coffee plants called the Cartura coffee tree.
The Cartura tree is a hybrid that is resistant to chemicals and harsh environments.
Afterwards, the tour guide finished telling the history of coffee trees, he suggested that we go into the fields and search for red coffee beans and place them in a basket that was given to us. I have to say, that I did not have any luck during my picking and I only found about two ripe coffee beans.
The ripe coffee beans are stripped of their skin with this machine
The coffee beans are then placed in the greenhouse to roast and harden
After the tour was finished, the groupwas then guided to prepare some coffee and we saw how the preparation was from ripe red coffee bean to roasted coffee grind. I have to say what an interesting process it is that coffee farmers do in order for customers to enjoy flavorful brewed coffee. You would be able to research yourselves on google the more detailed ways of the coffee roasting process, especially if you’re a coffee aficionado.
Moving on to the final part of the tour, we were treated to fresh roasted coffee from Colombia which for me was pretty strong because I am not really a coffee drinker, but they say that coffee Colombian has a sweeter taste, and to me, well I did not taste that, but I can say that if I threw in some cream or milk, I think that I would've really enjoyed the coffee much more than I did.
All in all, if you do have a chance to come to Colombia, definitely get yourselves over to Salento and do a coffee tour. It gives you an education and appreciation of what we drink on a daily basis and the marvel of human knowledge over generations of time.
Click the image to read the history
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