Written by SM
Day 10 of 44
Salento was well and truly on our to-do list from the moment we started researching Colombia. A chance to see 60m high palm trees, and of course a chance to go to a coffee growing region.
I like coffee, I always have. It is a staple in my mourning routine. In the past few years though I have started to understand that we are very lucky in Australia to have high quality coffee on offer to us. Martins and I started travelling in 2015 through Europe- we soon discovered that coffee standards just aren’t the same. Far too often after a hard morning, when all I needed was a decent cup of coffee, I was presented with a very milky very large glass. I actually don’t like the taste of warm milk, so I was very disappointed with the offering. Soon enough we decided it would be better to just start drinking coffee black. Even in the UK we found it difficult to find a good strong coffee. Lucky enough for us, once we had settled in Portsmouth a great little coffee shop Hunter Gatherer opened up near us. I think it was around then that we started becoming more interested in the different tastes of coffee, different brewing styles and what on earth all this single origin business was about. Of course we knew from reading many coffee packets that Colombia was a big producer of coffee, what better place to learn?
When the time came to choose where to stay in Salento, for once, the choice was easy. Plantation house on the outskirts of Salento was originally a coffee farm house, and the Coffee farm was just along the road a little further. The hostel was lovely and calm- a little oasis away from the town which was teeming with other tourists, Colombian and foreigners alike. It also offered a coffee farm tour! We signed up right away, and after a warning from the owner about the paths, helped ourselves to some rubber boots (wellington boots or gumboots whichever you prefer) and a very handy walking stick. Accompanied by his rather exuberant puppy Stanley a 7 month old Newfoundland with a penchant for bananas, as well as his 2 other dogs, our unexpectedly English guide appeared. Turns out Tim Edwards who goes by the more Colombian sounding name of Don Eduardo had moved to Colombia 13 years previously and bought the coffee farm 9 years ago.
Once we were kitted up in our boots, we set off down the muddy path, a historic path that was once the main highway to Bogota, passing by various fields before we got to Don Eduardo’s finca (farm). Tim gave us a very thorough introduction to the 2 main types of coffee, Robusta and Arabica beans, the main producers of coffee, the coffee trees, the best places to grow coffee and the process of growing the beans to roasting the beans. His explanations peppered with historical and political information about Colombia and coffee production. We were shown around the farm, and then watched a demonstration of how the coffee cherry transforms into the ground coffee we buy ready packaged in shops. Throughout the tour we were treated to 2 very different cups of black coffee.
The farm is located in a very scenic position, and after the demonstration we got to wander down through his fields through bamboo forests and next to pineapple plants. The tour is quite long, however I now have a much greater understanding of coffee production and farming, and hopefully a greater appreciation of the effort taken to produce a drink I so often took for granted back home.