Wednesday, September 4, 2013

El Eje Cafetero: Finca El Ocaso

I had come to Salento seeking rest and respite but there was another thing I was looking for: coffee, coffee, coffee. The good stuff too. Luckily for me, I had come to the right place as the coffee region in Colombia (the areas surrounding Manizales, Armenia and Pereira) produces a huge 25% of the world's coffee. Curious as ever and in need of a caffeine fix, we went off to one of the nearby fincas to see how it's done.

We decided on Finca El Ocaso which was a mile and a half walk from our hostal (more on La Serrana later!) We were treated to some amazing views on the way and encountered a yappy dog which clearly had little man syndrome.

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We arrived at Finca El Ocaso, choosing to take the coffee tour which lasted about 40 minutes. The tour cost $4000 pesos, including a cup of the finca's coffee at the end. Note if you choose to take the tour, they only offer it in Spanish so be sure to have a fluent speaker in your group.

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The tour consisted of being taken through the stages of coffee growing from the very beginning to the end product. The duration of the process takes a surprisingly long 18 months with the majority of the coffee beans being harvested in March, April and May.

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My memory doesn't serve me well and my little grasp of numbers in Spanish (let alone in English) is not the best to say least but here are some interesting facts learnt from the tour:

  • 80% of the coffee fruit is thrown away in the process of making coffee
  • Of the remaining 30%, the finca still manages to produce just under a million kilos every trimestre
  • The finca employs 30 coffee pickers, on the biggest coffee farms they will employ around a thousand
  • On average, experienced coffee pickers can pick a kilo in 20 minutes.
  • The majority of the best quality coffee is exported, leaving Colombians with a third rate coffee known as tinto

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The tour was very informative and it opened my eyes into the production of coffee. Now in the knowledge of how hard the process is and how little the coffee farms make, I am now more than ever going to make sure that the coffee I purchase is Fairtrade. I highly recommend the tour at Finca El Ocaso especially as it is such good value for money! NB. I have no way, shape or form been paid for this review.

Finca El Ocaso Vereda Palestina, Salento. Tours run 8.30am-4.30pm Mon-Sun.

Have you been on a coffee tour in Colombia? How was your experience?

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