14 Steps: Visiting a Colombian Coffee Farm

COFFEE!!!!!

 

Greetings from the coffee farm!

Close to Medellin, this beautiful coffee farm has been run by a same family for the past century or so, and continues to be one of the most successful local farms in the country, producing some of the best Colombian coffee around.  In this post, you will get an in-depth look at what it’s like to visit a coffee farm in the middle of Colombia, in 14 easy steps!

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Let’s Go Coffee!

After my day trip to Guatapé, I wanted to do something closer to Medellin, so I decided to take a coffee tour! I found it through Airbnb Experiences. I don’t actually like coffee, so I was skeptical, but I was so surprised at how much fun it was.

 

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Meeting our guide

The guide, Jheison (”Jason”), met me and another gal who had signed up for the tour at one of the transit stops. Jheison was about 20 years old, and working so hard on his English. He was from Medellin, and we were his first tour.

He knew everything about Medellin from the history to the food to the famous landmarks to the popular neighborhoods. His excellent English made it easy to understand him and follow his stories. (I’m an English teacher, and I say this without reservation, haha) He was very helpful with everything we needed, and always made sure that we felt safe.

 

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The Start of our journey

We went up to the lower entrance of the cable car, seemingly at the very top of the hill, only to climbed into our seats, and be swept higher and higher over the mountains and the city in the valley. It was the most magnificent ride above the trees, and small, windy streets, seeing from mountain to mountain and everything in between. What a view!

 

1. The Cable Car

At the top of the world, so it seemed, we could see for miles. When the cable car was built, it was literally a lifesaver. It helped people get home in one piece. Three years ago, the top of the mountains and surrounding farmland was so dangerous. Like being front lines. Everyone had a gun and was either terrified or out for blood, so walking home was described to me as a time where “the children would count the dead bodies to pass the time.” Good thing times have changed so much in just a couple years.

 

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2. Trekking through the mountains

We continued up the tallest mountain, huffing and puffing along pathways that looked like they should be scaled by men in tight pants wearing harnesses, rather than by me with my camera and soggy boots. The streets we walked through didn’t exactly seem unsafe, but I was definitely glad to have a local guide with me.

 

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3. Jungle Stairs

We got to the famous staircase that has a name, as it was so helpful with assisting the locals move across the mountains. (I can’t remember what it was, but there is a name!) There were something like 300 steps and it helped the farmers (and the few tourists that ventured out into the wilderness) move from one mountain to the other, crossing over a river and thick vegetation.

It really felt like we were in the jungle. It was incredibly humid and I was sweating through my clothes. The altitude was getting to me (again…or rather, still haha) and I didn’t realize how many steps there were until we had to climb back up the same number of stairs that we had just climbed down. It’s wayyy easier going down, by the way 😂😂

 

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4. Wildlife

In the valley by the river, we saw dozens of large, winged insects that I preferred to inspect through pictures or TV, but there we were. There were some colorful butterflies and sleepy (BUT MASSIVE AND TERRIFYING) wasps. They didn’t seem to interested in us, thank goodness. 😭😱😂

 

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5. Arrival at the farm

We finally made it to the coffee farm – what a view! The stairs ever so abruptly ended, spitting us out directly onto the grass of the coffee farm. There were banana trees and coffee plants everywhere. It was damp and very muddy, but it felt nice to be out in nature.

We met up Laura, our host during the farm visit. Jheison stayed to help translate. Laura and her family have lived on this farm for generations, always producing coffee and tea and bananas and herbs. Everything was damp, fragrant and delicious.

 

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6. The Community

I thought it would be a lonely place – boy, was I wrong! There were parents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and doggies. So many doggies! None of these floofies wanted to snuggle me, but I loved all seven of them anyway, haha.

 

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7. Lulo Juice

Laura’s mother served us delicious lulo juice, as the relatives greeted us warmly. Lulos are one of the most popular fruits in Colombia. They look like oranges on the outside, and they are green and look like kiwis on the inside. They were DELICIOUS! Lulo juice looks like pineapple juice, but there’s a lot of sugar added, so it’s super cloudy because of all the sugar, haha.

 

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8. Planting Seedlings with Laura

The owners gave us special ponchos, and equipped us with giant-brimmed hats and sturdy buckets for picking coffee beans. We put on these special clothes, and trotted out to the field. The family showed us which tiny, red balls were ready to be picked. Laura brought out some young seedlings that had just a few leaves, and then some bigger plants that had a bunch of leaves. We learned that every two leaves show a month’s worth of growth in the coffee plant. The ones that had 16-18 leaves were ready to be planted in the ground.

 

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9. An Introduction to Coffee

It started to rain, and we all put on these giant ponchos. We picked lots of coffee beans and put them in the basket that Laura had tied around our waists, and then the family showed us how to properly wash the beans. The farm only grows one type of coffee plant, but the ways that they prepare it varies so widely that they make 6 different types of coffee (and one type of tea!) with this single variety of coffee bean. So fascinating!

 

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10. Lunch preparations

I asked what a few family members were doing by a big pot over a wood fire. Apparently that’s how they prepared the big pot of soup for lunch! 😱❤️ It smelled so delicious and Laura told us that they had been cooking it for over 8 hours. Soup on an open flame in the middle of the coffee field? Yes, please. 👅😃😱❤️

 

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11. Feasting

They served us the most delicious lunch of traditional soup from this region, usually eaten with tomatoes, avocados, arepas, rice, and delicious juice from all kind of fruits that I’d never seen before. All in all, one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The chicken tasted like butter (not cooked in butter, but it like actual butter itself – it gave a whole new meaning to “butter chicken” 😂😂😂). The beef was falling off the bone, the veggies were soft and savory, and the broth was thick with garlic and starches. I’ve never had a more delicious meal in my entire life.

 

photo may 19, 12 54 11 pm12. Hungry Hungry Hippos

The little kids hung around and watched us eat, played with the dogs and listened intently to our conversations in English. They were soooo cute! I kept offering to share, but their mom scooted them away. The dogs weren’t that easy to deter, however. Their poor little hungry faces kept poking in the door, whining and begging for food, looking sooo pathetic, haha.

 

13. Coffee AND Tea

At the end of the afternoon, we had coffee and then tea made from coffee beans. I don’t like coffee, but if I did, I would probably have thought that this was the best coffee I’d ever had. The tea was very, very fruity. Almost like raspberry and apple teas mixed together. Not bitter whatsoever, and super tasty. No sugar or milk, though. “That’s not how we drink our coffee or tea in Colombia.” 😂😂

 

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14. Over the River and Through the Woods

We headed back toward the city, the opposite way this time. Up the hill, over the river, through the woods, all the while enjoying a wonderful, breathtaking view. We took the bus all the way back into Medellin, walked through the busy streets full of fruit stands and went on our way. Jheison was a fantastic tour guide, and made sure that we got all the way back into town, and on our respective trains. He was so joyful and enthusiastic, I wish I could have taken him with me everywhere!

 

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Final Thoughts

The hills were incredibly steep, but the view was totally worth it. My legs were seriously tired after this massive hike (number of stories climbed, according to my phone: 48. Success!), but what an experience! The soreness in my legs will fade. These memories will last a lifetime. 🙂

Have you been to a coffee farm? ☕️ Let me know what your experience was like in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, happy travels!

Kelsey

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