Before the world was taken over by Starbucks and even before we learnt to pour our coffee in French press, Colombia had already perfected the art of brewing the finest coffee and exporting it to United States in mid sixteenth century. I have grown up reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez novels and I had a fascination to go to Colombia since then. Obviously people questioned my sanity about my trip to Colombia this year and I call them 5 years behind on their travel plans. Considering the word ‘risk’ associated with Colombia, the Colombian tourism decided to use it in a positive way and now their slogan says ‘The only risk is to wanting to stay’ and I can’t agree more. After spending a lot of time in big cities like Bogota and Medellin, It was finally time to let myself into secret world of lush coffee plantations. Coffee is grown in 3 areas of Colombia called ‘Eje Cafetero’ in Manizales, Pereira and Armenia. According the locals, Pereira is best place to start the coffee walk. Also, There is a small town which is completely off map called Santa Rosa de cabal which offers a high waterfall and a natural thermal park. I call them treasures. Hidden treasures.
Every single minute in Colombia felt like home. Everybody from a begger to a business man treats you more like a family. So, I was extremely lucky that I was the only foreigner at the coffee tour on that day and they gave me more like a VIP tour. Its impossible to take mind off that moment of entering ‘Eje cafetero’ to the high and lush green mountains that you can feel mother nature within yourself. I was welcomed to the field with a cup of ‘. . Guess what. .? A cup of delicious coffee! Surprise!
The best of all was a hammock waiting for me at a spot from where my retina could cover a panorama view of the ‘finca’. I was advised to relax and then wear a typical coffee costume including a poncho, a hat and a small basket to collect the fruit. I couldn’t be happier when I was asked to select a name for my own coffee tree. It’s a 3-hour coffee tour which takes you through the entire process of growth, harvest and refinery of the smoothest coffee of the world.
Well, I am a caffeine person and I do have coffee in my mind the whole day, but this was different. It was coffee on my mind in tranquillity. There are various types of coffee plants and it usually takes 8 months to plant one coffee tree which lasts for about 16 years. There is no purer happiness than the smell and touch of raw coffee beans. Those beans looked so splendid and clean that it seemed a shame that they are
Every step was like letting myself on a different planet. Ultimately, I along with Valentina milled the collected small red coffee beans in a special mill machine which separated the pulp from the seed. It was cleaned, roasted on a frying pan and milled one more time to get a clean dark roast coffee aroma. While I was lost into the pride Valentina had about spending her life protecting the coffee origin , her sister Maria prepared us small cups of ‘tinto’ from my handmade coffee beans. And now, every cup of large ‘americano’ seems a true blessing. For me, It is better than discovering buried jewels.