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Coffee Country - Salento, Colombia
We jumped on a 6:30 am bus from Medillin towards Armenia with a plan to get a 1 hour shuttle after to Salento in the heart of "coffee country." We heard this first bua could take anywhere from 8-10 hours depending on traffic. Considering that all roads around Medillin are super windy and Bec gets pretty motion sick on buses, we were mentally prepared for a long and unpleasant day on some crowded buses. Hence, were pleasantly surprised when the young bus conductor tapped us on the shoulder at around 12:30 pm telling us we had reached our stop.
We got let off on the side of the highway with all our gear with instructions to cross to the other side and flag the next bus down heading the other way to Salento. We were understandably a little nervous about hanging around on the edge of a Colombia highway with all our cash, cards and passports, but sure enough after less than 10 minutes and one false start on the greenest roadside I've ever seen, a shuttle bus came past and we jumped on. 30 minutes later we were in Salento in time for lunch!
The next morning we woke up with plans to head to the Cocora Valley, but when it started raining during breakfast with no signs of letting up we decided to postpone. Sure enough around lunch time the sun came out in all of it's glory, so we decided to walk out of town to find a coffee farm.
After a beautiful little downhill walk out of town we shortly arrived at "Finca Del Ocaso." As we walked into the property, about 15 different local coffee pickers popped their heads out of the bushes with cheeky smiles to wish us "buenas tardes."
We ended up paying 8000 pesos ($4 AUD) for a guided tour and explanation around the property and it's processes from the awesome Felipe. We were explained how coffee plants are grown and potted from seed to fruiting tree, and also explained the benefits of growing coffee in shade and at altitude on the final product. We also learnt about how growers in this region have developed a certain strain, "variety colombia" in order to maximize yield and minimize vulnerability to pests and infections.
Next we got to get our hands dirty, planting seeds from scratch and then moving seedlings into fertilized soil to grow. We then were set loose in an area of the plantation and got to pick our own coffee "cherries" from the trees before bringing our harvest back to be peeled. We then saw the more industrial size operation of washing, drying and sorting the beans for quality.
And finally the best bit, we got to sample some of the final product! This turned out to be so good we bought a bag to take with us. Felipe was awesome, answering all of our questions and was super informative at every stage of the tour along the production line.
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An Aussie who loves travelling, hiking, trail running and pretty much any activity you can do outdoors.