London cafes vie for the coveted crown of serving the best cup of coffee, with hipsters their willing guinea pigs. However, for the ultimate coffee you need to head further afield. Colombia’s Coffee Triangle, Zona Cafetera, produces the richest, freshest and most delicious coffee beans in the world.
The incredible tasting Arabica coffee is found in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Coffee Triangle. The Colombian departments of Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío are home to six farming landscapes. They also happen to produce half of the country’s 66 million tonne coffee production. Even more ridiculous is that it makes up 10 percent of the world’s coffee supply.
But this doesn’t mean the landscape is filled with factories. Instead, the rolling hills are green and luscious with bamboo groves, banana plants and coffee bushes.
Coffee is synonymous with this South American country, a replacement to its previously most famous export, also a stimulant beginning with C. In recent years Colombia has shaken off its dangerous image for tourists. They’ve even adapted the tongue in cheek slogan “The Only Risk Is Wanting to Stay”.
Latching onto this new found traveller interest are the coffee fincas, or coffee farms. Traditional, working estates, where you are now able to spend the night and discover the production behind your favourite morning drink.
At Hacienda Venecia, a fourth generation farm, make sure to go on a coffee tour. You’ll watch the beans get roasted and smell the gorgeous aroma, walk through the coffee plantation and visit the mill where the coffee is dried and packaged. The tour runs in English, with Spanish on request.
There’s also the opportunity to try cupping. A sensory workshop where you’re taught what to perceive when tasting your coffee – flavours, textures, colours – basically how to be the ultimate coffee connoisseur.
When Antioquian settlers first arrived here in the nineteenth century they created the farms on slopes of 55 degrees. They adapted their farming to these mountainous conditions. The environment in this particular part of Colombia is ideal for growing coffee, and allows for a unique two annual harvests.
Periods between April to May, and October to December are the busiest times for farmers as it’s during the harvests. However, it’s also the rainy season. Great for coffee production but not so good for balmy sight seeing.
There’s not just coffee in this region either. Branching away from your coffee finca you can discover Los Nevados National Park. Marvel snow capped peaks and active volcanoes. With all your coffee supplied energy you can hike to different summits and gawp at the stunning panoramas, or admire the blueness of Laguna del Otún.
Voyaging to this beautiful country to discover the story behind the world’s favourite drink, you’ll be a coffee snob for life. After tasting the original, they’ll be no going back to instant during the office lunch break.
Vereda el Rosario, Manizales, Caldas, Colombia
Staying at a working farm like Hacienda Venecia, it will be busiest during the harvest which is April to May, and October to December.
What you need to know:
Pack clothes for rain as it’s likely you’ll receive some showers while you’re downing your coffee shots.