Now, I think a lot of people would have enjoyed this one – Matthew Downing, Jimmy Ames and Ian Bowman come to mind immediately, but I know there are plenty of others.
Upon arriving in Salento, Colombia, my Italian and I learned of the friendly Don Elias who welcomes visitors to his small, organic coffee plantation outside of town. That was enough for us and after dropping off our luggage, we immediately set off on the 45-minute walk to see Don Elias.
Only the roads in the center of town are paved and so one soon finds themselves out in the countryside on roads like this… I thought it was great and the scenery around us only added to the appeal:
You’ll know you’re getting close when you start to see hillsides covered in coffee beans…
…And extremely cute kids who will come out to greet you:
When you see this small sign, turn right and follow the short trail:
Soon you will encounter the home of Don Elias, and almost certainly his affable family as well:
After exchanging pleasantries, Don Elias will soon take you for a tour of his plantation which covers 4-8 hectares depending on weather and market conditions. Aside from coffee, Don Elias also grows bananas, pineapple, avocado, lemons and bamboo.
Below he is discussing the differences between Arabic and Colombian coffee (he grows both):
Below Don Elias is harvesting some coffee beans… The plants start producing coffee beans after two years and after ten years, they are pruned heavily to reinvigorate them.
The coffee is normally harvested in April and May and the yield can vary from 3 to 3,000 kilos depending on how good of a year it is:
Showing off an example of high-quality beans… Don Elias told us that Colombia makes such good coffee because of its weather:
Back at the plantation house, Don Elias took us through the steps of processing the coffee for sale.
The first step is to strip the shells off with the machine pictured below…
…Which is normally attached to the side of this tub where the freshly liberated beans are washed with very clean water:
The beans are then taken inside this greenhouse and spread around to dry, which can take anywhere from one day to thirty depending on the weather:
Following the drying process, the beans are then roasted:
While Don Elias periodically shakes out the remains of shells and other such debris:
After roasting, the coffee is ready to be ground as is being done below:
At which time it can then be presented to your dear editor and his Italian for consumption… And, yes, the coffee was delicious:
Interestingly (at least to me), the majority of the consumers of Colombian coffee are in Brazil.
Don Elias told me that he can get 10,000 Colombian pesos (not as much as it sounds) per kilo of his coffee, while a non-organic grower will get about 7,000 Colombian pesos per kilo.
If you ever find yourself in the Salento region, I strongly endorse a visit to Don Elias and his coffee plantation. Just ask any of the locals where Don Elias lives and they’ll point you in the right direction.