Hola from Salento, Colombia! Taking a coffee tour in Salento is a must-do in this region; not only are we travelling through one of the top coffee export countries in the world, we are also in the heart of Colombia’s hilly Zona Cafeteria (coffee zone). After Brazil and Vietnam, Colombia is the 3rd largest international exporter of coffee. Chances are, no matter where in the world you are reading this from, you’ve enjoyed a cup of Colombian coffee.
We signed up for a Salento coffee tour with Finca El Ocaso, due to their frequency of tours, and availability of English-speaking tours which run 3x/day.
Although Finca El Ocaso is easily accessible by Jeep (the ‘taxi’ system in Salento), we decided to take the 5km walk from the main Salento town to the farm. The easily accessible, mostly-downhill walk took us through lush, green and beautiful farmland landscape.
We arrived just in time to begin the 90-minute Finca El Ocaso tour, joining a group of about 20 English-speaking tourists. After a brief introduction on the production cycle of coffee, we walked through Finca El Ocaso’s coffee field and picked ripe red cherries off the coffee shrubs.
The steps of coffee production from ‘bean to cup’ are the same, no matter what part of the world you are in: growing, picking, drying, roasting, brewing. Good coffee begins with a healthy, ripe cherry, picked off the coffee tree. 65% of the world’s coffe production is of the Arabica varietal; in Colombia, that’s also the bean of choice.
We were introduced to a few different types of Arabica trees that are grown at Finca El Ocaso . As we had heard on other coffee tours before, a deadly fungus called Roja wiped out a good portion of coffee farms in Colombia and other coffee growing regions many years ago. To combat this deadly fungus, Colombian farmers began cross-breeding Arabica plants, to invent a new variety that was resistant to this agricultural enemy.
After the cherries are hand-picked off the coffee bushes and de-shelled, they go through different methods of drying and roasting that highlight the natural flavours of coffee in different ways.
Having been on a few guided coffee tours already (in Myanmar, Costa Rica, and Panama) I had a good grasp of the steps of coffee production, but enjoyed learning something new every time. At Finca Del Ocaso, it was the first time I had encountered the “peaberry” variety of coffee. Each coffee cherry typically contains two halves of a bean inside (which eventually become the coffee bean), but in special cases where there’s only one whole bean, it’s a special “peaberry” bean which packs more flavour into each bean and typically has a sweeter tasting note.
At the end of the tour, I highly recommend spending some time at the Ocaso Coffee House, enjoying the beautiful views while having lunch or enjoying more coffee. We had a delicious plantain lasagne — the pasta noodles in the lasagne are replaced with slices of sweet plantain, making the dish gluten free.
If you’re looking for a short introduction to the coffee industry while you’re in Salento, Finca El Ocaso offers a good, high level, easy-to-understand tour of this industry. For more information about Finca El Ocaso, visit: fincaelocasosalento.com.
Thank you to Finca el Ocaso for hosting us on your coffee tour. As always, all opinions on Modern Mix Travel are our own.