The Coffee Capital of the World
Colombia is the coffee capital of the world, most people are aware of that. But do you actually know how that great cup ‘o joe gets into your cup?
Let me say from the start, I am not a coffee drinker. I’ve never liked the taste and thought caffeine was not good for you. However, I was always fascinated by the long lines wrapped around the corner for people waiting for this cup of energy. Or how crazed folks’ mood swings before they’ve had their java.
What was the big deal?
The only thing I remember about coffee was Juan Valdez on his donkey in Colombia as he strolls through the coffee farm. Colombia is known the world over for its coffee. And Colombians LOVE their coffee. So I was curious how does it go from the ground to the cup. I decided to find out and asked a Colombian friend to take me to a coffee farm recently. Boy, was I fascinated and surprised. I’m not sure what I expected, but my idea of coffee has been illuminated.
The first thing I noticed when we arrived was just how peaceful it was to be out in nature. You could feel the tranquility all around just 20mins from the town I live in Medellin.
As Fabio, the owner of a mid-size, family-owned farm called, Cafe Cereza, showed me around, I learned how they start with seed germination, then grown into cherries.
He even allowed me to pick some coffee cherries. The red cherries are the best. The people are paid about $5 per day, filing up their basket with hand-picked coffee cherries.
Then we poured the cherries into a manual machine to separate the cherries from the beans. That was hard work. (They do use automated machines to do this).
Fabio shared with me the 3 types of beans: Pergamino, (Best), Corrente (Regular), and Parsilla (Raisin). As he took me through the tedious process of irrigation, sorting the bad beans from the best and on down to the grinding and packaging for sale, I was in awe of exactly what it takes for such a high-quality commodity such as coffee to come to market, and how much work is put into it.
Fabio’s farm has been in his family since the 1950s, and I had a chance to meet his son, who will take over as the line continues.
The love, care and passion Fabio exuded was undeniable, he LOVES coffee!
The highlight came when I had the chance to taste it. Remember, I don’t like coffee. To my utter surprise, it was really GOOD! It was smooth and almost tasted like wine.
Here’s the kicker. I asked what happens to the beans that are not good. Those were the ‘raisins’. He explained the best beans are packaged for corporate sales, the medium quality beans are packaged to high-end restaurants and coffee shops, and the ‘raisins are packaged and turned into … wait for it …
The Good – the Bad – and the Ugly
That’s right, you got it! Your favorite store brands use the worst beans to grind and turn into instant coffee just for you!
So there you have it, the next time you pick up your favorite latte, grande, mocha, frapp, think about where that coffee came from and the people, love, hard work and care it took to get it to you at $5 bucks a pop!
Have you ever been to a coffee farm? What was your impression? Share your story.
by: Gail Turner Brown