A Trip to Colombia’s Coffee Region – OurWarwick
OurWarwick

A Trip to Colombia’s Coffee Region

I knew very little about Colombia prior to actually getting here, but I think for many people, when they get passed the country’s history with drugs, will probably associate Colombia with coffee and chocolate- two of my favourite things. During my family’s visit, we decided to explore this side of Colombia, by heading east to the Coffee Triangle. Linking the three departments (counties) of Caldas, Quindio and Risaralada, with it’s year-round warm and dry climate, the Coffee Region/ Triangle is the country’s biggest producer of, what is considered by many worldwide, to be the best coffee in the world…

After a short flight to Pereira, one of the biggest cities in Risaralda, my family and I were greeted by a city fairly similar to that of Medellin- warm and very busy. However, we stopped here for a night, before heading to the coffee plantation we had booked to stay at, which meant, of course, we had to take advantage of visiting one of Pereira’s most famous landmarks…

Naked Simon Bolivar riding a horse!! I tell you, getting up to that platform in a skirt was quite the challenge!

It was quite lovely to escape Bogotá’s now rather wet climate (thanks to the rainy season) and head out into daily temperatures of 30 degrees (without the humidity we were hit with whilst in the jungle). Nevertheless, after having a brief fight with our Airbnb host over issues with the payment, which saw me argue down a 2005 Nokia brick phone for half an hour in Spanish, we managed to get to the bus station, and head down to the plantation where we were would spend the rest of our trip.

In true Colombian style, we were told to take a bus to a roadside restaurant, then call a phone number, and we would miraculously be picked up half an hour later- this was the view from the restaurant…

Heading to the Hacienda Venecia plantation, the first order of business was a tour of the cacao plants and chocolate making process, which saw us pick cacao beans in their gardens, harvest the beans, roast them, and then try a range of different chocolate goods.

Our own cacao beans, which we had to remove the shell one by one

That afternoon also marked our first meeting with Tomas, one of my most favourite dogs ever, who continues making regular appearances on my blogs

The next day, however, saw the main 3-hour extravaganza that was the coffee tour. Starting with a walk through all their different types of coffee trees, we ended up at the roasting facility.

First of all the beans are washed and then sorted into three different categories depending on their quality. First quality beans are only sold internationally, mainly to Japan and Canada, and many Colombians have to put up with second or third quality beans as a result.

Then the beans are roasted, and to be fair, the temperature outside of this oven was pretty similar to that in the jungle…

They are then packaged into large 10KG bags, ready to be sold in large quantities, or repacked into the little bags you would buy in supermarkets. Every year, the official coffee regulating authority in Colombia will come and randomly test a sample from the “first quality” bag of beans, and if there are second or third rate beans in the sample, the company can be fined.

The place had some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced and was definitely one of my favourite places that I have visited so far…

What’s more, when we were checking out, and buying my Father a bag of beans, we, of course, asked if we could buy Tomas. Whilst he wasn’t available, we were told that he had recently become a new father, and we could buy his puppies if we returned in 6 weeks. Logistically it would be a nightmare, but they were so cute…

Excuse the quality: but these two-week old puppies were probably smaller than my hand!!

We even saw a family of lizards swimming in the pool whilst eating lunch!

Combined with afternoons of lying in hammocks reading, this little sanctuary in the hills of Risaralda made for the most wonderful escape, and could not be further from Bogotá. Thanks to the concentration of trees and flowers, the number of butterflies and birds in the air was quite incredible, especially in contrast to London’s rather sad collection of ants and pigeons. If you are ever in Colombia, I wholeheartedly advise you to visit the Coffee Triangle!

Leave a comment

   or Log in?

Avatar
Ask a
Blogger