On Friday morning we did a tour of a local coffee plantation and as tours go so far on the trip this one was definitely the most informative. The farmer took us through his farm and the coffee making process from the very beginning until we enjoyed two delicious cups of freshly roasted coffee three hours later. I for one will definitely appreciate my coffee a little bit more after the tour and was totally ignorant to the level of work involved in getting the coffee beans!
The farmer, Don Eduardo, described the coffee industry in Colombia, which is the 4th largest in the world. We learned that there are options to grown modern or traditional coffee with traditional being more onerous, and about the main types of coffee, arabica and robusta. He explained that there is no formal world standard for coffee as it would be too subjective but that there is a standard for the size of beans. Coffee worldwide gets graded by the size of the beans as you want to roast beans of the same size together. We saw the beans on the trees, green before they are ripe, red or yellow when they are ready to be harvested, and black if they are gone.
Once the red and yellow “cherries” are picked they have to be split open which provides a slimy looking coffee bean which then has to be washed for as long as a period of 5 days with water changes, and then dried out. During the washing, he explained that any beans which float to the top are poor quality and are disregarded for locals whereas the top quality stuff is exported!
In addition, the skins of the beans are used and fermented to produce small bottles of alcohol which he described to be like baileys. We tried some of this later in the tour and it was super tasty!
Once the coffee is washed and dried it is referred to as parchment coffee and there are two more skins to remove until you get the actual beans which you roast. Once dried, the beans can be sold or roasted and ground to make coffee. It was super to watch the journey from the start and we enjoyed two great coffees during the tour!
The farmer also had strawberries, bananas, oranges, lemons, plantains and pineapples growing on his farm. I found the pineapples most interesting as he described how one pineapple grows per tree, per year, which caused me to be confused as to why they are so cheap to buy here. I’m not complaining though – the quality is amazing!
We spent some time wandering the sleepy town of Salento after the coffee tour and it reminded me of Guatape which we had previously visited and all of its pretty colours. The most popular local dish in Salento is trout so we enjoyed that with huuuuuge fried plantains served on the side. We have gotten so used to eating plantain because it is served with everything and is basically like an alternative to having potato here! It is part of the banana family and looks like a green unripe banana in its uncooked state.
We finished our last day in Salento by embracing in their national sport, Tejo. When you arrive at a bar on a Friday night with a sign for “beer and gunpowder” I feel my skepticism was warranted.
However a few rounds in and with my competitive streak in full force I was keen for an explosion at any point! It is basically a game with a clay mound as a target, white triangles filled with gunpowder rest on a metal ring on the mound and you each had a stone to throw. On hitting a triangle with the stone, the impact with the metal ring causes an explosion. 1 point for the closest stone to the target, 3 points for exploding a triangle, 6 points for landing in the centre of the target and 9 points for landing in the centre with an explosion and the first person to 21 wins!
Unfortunately Gavin won overall but I am taking some pride that I literally played with an all or nothing approach, the stone was either nowhere near the board or there was a bulls-eye and an explosion…Followed by a jump and squeal from me..every single time!!
On Saturday morning before leaving Salento we returned to the Brunch restaurant for some breakfast. If every pancake I order in future is of this standard I will be a happy lady!!!