I love coffee. I love it in the morning, in the afternoon and even at night. I love everything from a fancy espresso to regular drip coffee. I love it in hot weather or when it’s cold. Colombian coffee is supposed to be some of the best in the world. It’s achieved such fame that the EU granted Colombian coffee a protected designation of origin status.
Well aware of my love/obsession, Rachel humored me and after Medellin we set out for coffee country.
- Colombia has traditionally grown arabica beans, as pictured above.
- The fictional character of Juan Valdez is from Colombia (I know– I thought he was real too). He was created by the National Federation of Coffee Growers in Colombia in 1958 in its effort to market Colombian coffee to the world.
- For a long time Colombia held the #2 spot of largest coffee producer in the world (behind Brazil– where, according to our guide on our coffee plantation tour, the coffee beans are rubbish!). Colombia recently lost its spot to none other than Vietnam.
Most of Colombia’s coffee is grown in the “coffee triangle” or “coffee axis.” Within that triangle, we found the small plantation Hacienda Guayabal to spend a few days. The Hacienda is close to the village of Chinchina, which is to say it’s in the middle of nowhere.
We arrived to Chinchina by bus from Medellin. The highway wound its way through beautifully lush mountains, finally dropping us off on the side of the road in a tiny village. We then flagged down a cab, which took us the rest of the way to our hacienda.
We spent two nights at Guayabal, then flew from a nearby airport to Cartagena. On our only full day, the English speaking guide called in sick, so we set out to explore the area. We followed the advice of our wonderful hosts and decided to visit the local hot springs, Santa Rosa de Cabal.
The trip alone was worth it: we took a local bus about 15 minutes down the highway to the toll booth; everyone got off and walked across to the bus stop on the other side of the booth (this is a theme in this part of Colombia– I guess the tolls are expensive); we caught a bus from there to the nearby town of Santa Rosa (famous for its chorizo, the deliciousness of which we can attest to); and waited about 30 minutes in Santa Rosa’s main square for a rickety, open-sided bus which took us the rest of the way (we attracted so much attention that, by the time the bus came, no fewer than 5 locals were watching for it and waived it down for us).
The hot springs were nice too (but I can’t get that excited about a dip in essentially a public pool–Rachel says this is an unusual sentiment).
The next day we finally toured the coffee plantation. We visited the fields and the surprisingly old-school processing facilities. While the tour was great, the best part for me was the tasting in the end.