08 June 2016
My Quest for the Perfect Cup of Coffee
The moment I stepped out of the car, a faint smell of coffee wafted in my direction. I inhaled deeply and immediately knew I made the right decision signing up for this coffee tour in Fusagasuga.
I don’t have a burning desire to see how everything I consume is made. For example, I would like to remain blissfully unaware of how hotdogs came to be, but coffee is a different story. I have always been curious to see where the stuff I lap up every day (sometimes twice a day) comes from. And what better country to find out than in Colombia?
The Picturesque Ride
The tour guide, Jorge, picked us up from a hotel in the center of Bogotá. Colombia’s capital city has notoriously slow traffic. So while horns beeped and cars slowly inched along, Jorge told us more about Bogotá. He shared facts about the city, pointed out important landmarks and talked about life in Colombia. Once we made it past the outskirts of Bogotá, traffic cleared up and our route was dotted with the peaks and valleys of majestic mountains. Our car passed men selling handmade furniture, lush farmlands and children playing soccer in a green field.
After about an hour and half in the car, a long driveway lined with budding flowers and shady trees led us into Hacienda Coloma.
The Tour of Hacienda Coloma
Some coffee plantations in Latin America have the essence of a tourist trap, with campy guides and glitzy gift shops. But Hacienda Coloma is far from that. The 12-acre farm has been around since the early ‘80s and oozes authenticity without even trying. Six people work the land and produce alcohol in addition to coffee. Their rum has won international contests and employees are always inventing new twists (usually involving coffee) for their liquor and rum.
A young man named Cesar showed us around. A bit soft-spoken, Cesar’s enthusiasm for coffee was immediately apparent despite his calm demeanor. He had been working in the coffee production business for years and walked us through the process of making a perfect cup of Joe, from seed to piping-hot deliciousness in your mug. He showed us young coffee plants growing in a green house. He taught us which “coffee cherry” was ripe for the picking. With the coffee cherries in hand, Cesar explained how the bean is extracted, then dried for several days. He walked us through the husking and roasting processes. Once the beans were roasted and the whole room was engulfed in the aroma of fresh coffee, Cesar grinded the beans in front of us and demonstrated how to brew a “proper” cup of coffee.
The only downside of this tour is living with the knowledge that the black stuff that drips from my cheap machine, will never compare to the coffee Cesar brewed from fresh beans that day. He took such delicate care to ensure the coffee-to-water ratio was just right. When the coffee was ready, he served us in warm mugs and even let us taste the difference between coffee from a warm mug verses a cold mug and Styrofoam cup. Like I said, this man knows coffee. We also got to sample shots of liquor coffee. The shots were delicious, probably a little too delicious for my own good.
After we licked every last drop from our mugs (okay, maybe I was the only one who did that) and said good-bye to Cesar, we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. I eat tasty Colombian food every day now that I live in Bogotá, but this lunch went beyond my expectations. My steak, rice and salad were delicious and everyone else’s meals looked just as good. The restaurant wasn’t packed, but it served several Colombian families enjoying their weekend in the countryside.
Final Thoughts and Advice
The scenic drive and the actual hacienda itself was so lovely, I would have been completely content tromping around the gardens and groves for a few hours even without the coffee. If you go on this tour, be sure to wear closed-toe shoes since you will be walking around in dirt for a small portion of the day. You might also consider wearing bug repellent and bringing an umbrella because it rains frequently.
I’m so happy I decided to take this tour. Not only can I brag to my friends back home about drinking the freshest cup of coffee, the tour was a wonderful opportunity to see the countryside and breathe in the fresh air laced with the scent of coffee.
About the author:
Anneliese Delgado is an American writer living in Bogotá. Her mother is from the United States and her father is from Venezuela, giving her the unique opportunity to blend in on the streets of Colombia, while still viewing the country from the eyes of an outsider. When she’s not writing, she’s playing soccer, wandering around stores with no intention on buying anything and binge-watching Netflix. You can read more about her adventures on her blog at abroadincolombia.com.