In the coffee fields of the Zona Cafetera

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Colombia is worlwide famous for its tasty coffee. And almost all of theses prized coffees are grown in the Zona Cafetera, also called the Eje Cafetero (Coffee Axis) in Spanish. Some of the coffee farms (fincas) welcome visitors onto the plantations to learn everything about the coffee-growing process. During our Colombia trip we stayed one night at the Hacienda Venezia near Manizales.

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Too small? Too brown?

To get high quility coffee the beans have to be sorted according to quality several times. We give it a try with the green coffee beans. „Yellow beans are not good, and these ones are too small“ advises Ruven. The Dutch girls compare their selection of coffee beans. It is not that easy to decide which coffee beans are good enough to get into the export batch. For comparison Ruven shows us a box full of beautiful green coffee beans and another one with the inferior beans: too small, too brown or too deformed.

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Sniffing the scent of coffee

The Export Quality Colombian coffee is the priciest regular Washed Arabica Coffee on the market – except for the superior Speciality Coffees. By contrast, the black, yellow and deformed beans in the other box is what you get if you order a ‘tinto’: A sweet brown liquid that tastes slightly like coffee.“They have to drink it with lots of sugar to cover the unpleasant aromas,” Ruven shrugs.

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Then he brings out a training box for coffee tasters. Small bottles contain the aromas one will find in coffee: vanilla, maple syrup, chocolate, lemon… The small group of coffee tourists sniff at the bottles, until someone shouts: “Yuck, this one is disgusting!” It turns out the training box also contains aromas like smoke or mould you want to avoid in your coffee.

A guided tour around the plantation

After the “theory class” we get a guided tour around the plantation and the cleaning and drying facilities. And then a cup of coffee – export quality, of course.

Since 2011, the Zona Cafetera has UNESCO World Heritage status.

Hacienda Venecia is situated near Manizales, Colombia, and can be contacted for coffee tours and/or accommodation via: http://www.haciendavenecia.com

Note: Our trip to Colombia and the Zona Cafetera has not been sponsored in any way and we paid all expenses ourselves.

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