People visit Salento for two main reasons – to hike in the Cocora Valley, where massive palm trees stand like totem poles on the mountainside, and to experience some of the best freshly made coffee on the planet. While it might be easier to use an OXO machine to produce your daily caffeine fix, it’s fascinating to gain some first-hand insight into the process behind coffee production. One of the best ways to do this is to join a coffee making tour.
WHAT DOES A COFFEE MAKING TOUR INVOLVE?
The best thing about joining a coffee making tour in Salento is the opportunity to meet the people behind the process.
We visited a man called Don Elias who was more than happy to give us a guided tour of his finca for the generous price of $5000 COP (coffee included!). Don Elias is getting on a bit, to put it politely, but he still potters up and down the steep slopes of his land, pointing out different kinds of coffee beans at different stages of maturity.
He showed us where plants that hadn’t performed well had been cleared and replaced with banana trees, and as we went, we picked the ripe red beans from the older plants and collected them in a basket.
SKINNING THE BEANS
Next he showed us the machine they use to skin the beans and he let us have a go at using it.
There was a massive pit, which he said would be filled with skinned beans by the end of two days’ harvesting.
DRYING THE BEANS
The beans come out of this machine wet and slimy, so the next stage is to dry them out on the floor. They use a canopy to prevent rain from ruining the process.
We raked the beans to help spread them out and ensure they were all fully dry and free of mildew.
REMOVING THE CASKS
Another machine removes what’s left of the dry casks. They’re blown off the top of the tray, leaving only the raw beans behind.
GRINDING THE BEANS
A rich aroma filled the air as soon as the machine got going, and grew ever stronger with each turn of the handle.
TASTING THE COFFEE
It wouldn’t be a coffee making tour without the chance to taste it at the end. Don Elias poured us a cup each and watched on expectantly as we tried it.
You can easily hike to Don Elias’ farm from the centre of Salento. It takes no more than 2 hours to stroll there through the countryside.
RECREATE THE TASTE FROM YOUR COFFEE MAKING TOUR
Once you have a taste for Colombian coffee it’s hard to go back. That’s why these Macondo coffee cubes by startup company HABA are a fantastic little treat. Produced in the Santander region of Colombia and distributed throughout the UK, they’re a great option for busy people or travellers who miss the authentic taste of Colombian coffee beans. The cubes are individually packaged, so you carry them with you when you travel, and in buying them you’re helping to support small-scale coffee producers in South America. It’s a win-win!