Today is the last day of the Let’s Talk Coffee event in Colombia — it’s been a heck of a time. Tomorrow—Monday—Chris Baca and I will go visit a farm called La Rochella that’s about 3 hours from here (Armenia). We’ll spend the night on the farm, which should be awesome! Then on Tuesday, we’ll go to Cali to visit Cafe Palo Alto, which is co-owned by Geoff Watts of Intelligentsia Coffee. We’ll join back up with Stephen Morrissey there (he left for Cali this morning). And early on Wednesday morning, Chris and I fly back to the US of A.
I’m telling you this because this very well be my last post from Colombia, because I don’t know what the internet service will be like at La Rochella and at our hotel in Cali. But if this is the last post FROM Colombia, I promise to update on Thursday from Portland.
OK, so today was a big day! We piled onto buses at 9 a.m. and headed for the farm, El Placer.
This farm was pretty incredible in terms of their sustainable practices. Here’s Christy from Allegro learning all about it.
They had one of the most sophisticated systems for reusing all parts of coffee I’ve ever seen.
For example, in the photo below, notice the canisters that process all the pulp methane.
The photo below shows the mother, father and son who run the farm. I loved what the father said at one point, that in reality, he doesn’t really own the land, he just borrows it. So it is his responsibility to care for it for the next generations of people who will live and work on it.
One part of the tour focused on the germination of the coffee plants. They showed us coffee at various points in growth, as tended in the nursery, from seed to adolescent plant.
And look at these amazing seedlings! They’re growing in sand, which is why the coffee beans look so dusty.
A bunch of us were distracted by the healthy growing areas nearby, so we decided to wander into it and pick and eat some of the cherries.
At the end of the tour, we piled back onto our buses and were bound for Parque National del Cafe, the National Coffee Park.
Silly me, I thought this park would be like a national forest, but no — it was a theme park based on coffee. Hilarious!
We took these trams down to the lower part of the park and had a nice lunch under some tents. And then, it was time to hit the roller coaster! It was called La Broca, after the pest that eats and diseases coffee plants.
It was all pretty cute. And dude, they did a good job with the roller coaster — I was on the very first car and it was a freakin RIDE. Tracy Allen pointed out what was perhaps the coolest thing I saw at the park, which was the biggest coffee tree any of us had ever seen. It was so big, in fact, that Tracy brought one of the agronomists down to see if it really and truly was a coffee tree. When the agronomist saw it, he took off his hat and held it to his chest and thanked jesus. Quite impressive to him, as well, apparently. Just look at the size of this thing!
So then it was time to go, but we weren’t all going together, sadly. Some of our friends were actually headed to the airport, like Phuong. Baca and I were so sad to see her go! But at least we got to get a kick out of the fact that she was riding the “Special Bus” to the airport.
Once we were back at the hotel, we went to the very special moving dinner, which began with a horse show that literally look place in the courtyard of the hotel. It was awesome!
After we’d eaten, David from Sustainable Harvest asked people to take turns on the microphone telling all of us what they thought about Let’s Talk Coffee. Below, the Tanzanian farmers express their gratitude for the experience.
In the photo below, Jorge from Sustainable Harvest ranslates what one of the Guatemalan farmers had said. Poor Jorge did a LOT of translating tonight!
Even the cats who live and keep us company at the hotel came to watch the very special wrap up of what was a simply incredible event.
So that’s the story of Let’s Talk Coffee in Armenia, Colombia. It’s been so memorable and educational, not to mention a ton of fun. I can’t wait for next year’s Let’s Talk Coffee in Brazil! Stay tuned for updates of how our visit to La Rochella was, and what kind of trouble Baca and I get into in Cali! Hasta la vista!