I slowly woke from my reverie to a whole different type of dream; the wonderful music of the birds and insects surrounding me. It is such a simple and exceptional pleasure that we so easily forget when living in the city. We headed a little way down the road to Miguel’s farm, a gentleman farmer. After retiring from a government job in Bogotá, he decided to return to the land of his grandparents and set up his own small coffee producing farm. As we crossed his gate, we discovered a small driveway lined with various plants that led up to a modest house. Behind it, some 3000 coffee plants rich with fruit.
Andres quickly strapped us up with special collecting bags that are weaved from the leaves of a local plant. He taught us to identify the rich ripe burgundy red coffee fruit and pick them from the plant. We headed into the heavy growth and started at it. After roughly 10 minutes we were each quite proud of our work and had collected a sizeable amount of this sweet fruit. Miguel was deep inside his fields with an especially large sack filled to the rim. We admired as his agile hands seamlessly stripped the plants of their sweet delights in mere seconds. He was certainly in a whole different league than us.
With the relatively meager literal fruits of our labor, we headed behind a small shed located next to the house. Here we got to use a traditional manual-powered machine to remove bean from fruit. Seamlessly, in little time this old device knew how to perfectly separate the white bean into one container from the red fruit into another. From there we rinsed and cleaned the beans being careful to collect the first residual waters so that Miguel could ferment them into a local alcohol.
From there, the next step is a multi-day drying process. On Miguel’s farm, this meant a specially made greenhouse. Regularly he will rake the beans to help them air and sort out the best from the worst. This farm prides itself on only selling 100% top grade quality coffee. I learnt that most of the coffee I have been drinking up until this point has been a mix of high and low grade coffee beans. This now explains the uniquely neat and rich taste I experienced earlier.
From there we went to the last house of the trip owned by Nancy, where a few of the rooms are used as a museum complete with various memorabilia ranging from old accounting books to a German radio and various music records.
Across the street was the old coffee producing factory where the paymaster would record hundreds of bags of coffee beans working around the clock from sunrise to sunset. Unfortunately, today this warehouse is a shell of its former glory, with a few steps now precariously cracked and bendy. Luckily however, this should change with the years as it has recently received United Nations patronage for its historical and cultural significance.
Despite its state, it is still used for coffee production to this day. Here we got a quick presentation about the coffee association APRENAT that so generously hosted us that day. Along with aid money from the UN, APRENAT has purchased the machines to roast and grind the coffee. Through a thermometer and a special extraction rod they are able to monitor this crucial process.
Finally after learning so much and buying our own premium quality coffee it was time to return from whence we came. On my way back as I rested my head I could not help but already miss the sounds of nature that softly enveloped us throughout the trip, the warm proud hospitality of ours hosts, and the rich taste of coffee.