Thursday 7 March 2024

Let them grow wild

Hello again! 

We are moving fast through Colombia. I think this has been the longest time we have stayed only for one night at every place we stay.  But it’s been fun, and we’ve visited nice places like Cocora (or Encanto) valley. This stop was one that Dan and Ioanna in particular enjoyed. Mainly, because it was a coffee finca.

After leaving the Cocora valley, we stayed at a coffee finca called Finca La Divisa just outside a town called Filandia. In the morning, while having breakfast, we watched birds

Of course, we also did a coffee tour where we learnt about the two main ways to grow coffee: permaculture and monoculture. Permaculture is where you grow the coffee plants spaced out, giving a lot of room between plants which is a more sustainable form of agriculture and creates a better living environment for people and animals. In monoculture, you can grow ten times as many plants in the same space but it’s not as sustainable an agriculture and you have to cut down all the plants every five years, so you must have plants of varying years to produce constant coffee. Our host, Javier, has been a coffee producer for more than 50 years and has been practising permaculture for the last 20 years because he feels that this is a better way of coffee production. He used to have many hectares of land but now he only produces very small-scale coffee alongside other plants, such as bananas and heliconias. He also has animals such as cows and chickens. These are all mixed and grown together as he believes that this gives a better environment for both animals and plants. He was very excitable but all his projects were very inspiring. 

Javier showed us how to harvest the coffee ourselves and skinned the beans using a machine. We then filtered the coffee from its inner skin leaving the sticky, soft and natural bean. We then toasted that and grounded it to give Dan, Ioanna and Javier some fresh coffee to drink. Obviously, Ismene and I didn’t get anything even though we did most of the work! Grumph! At the end of the tour, we did however have a delicious guayaba juice (guava, a fruit we don’t have in Europe but it’s so yummy) and we gulped it all down.

Coffee seems to be so big in Colombia and I can see how much it means to people. In Brazil, we could have seen a lot of it growing but it is all done at a completely different scale, it's all so industrial and done with big machines. In Colombia, Javier said that 98% of coffee production is artisanal which I think means that everyone has a few hectares of land and it's all very small scale. I don't know much about coffee (in fact, I don't know anything about coffee) but I think I prefer the Colombians have got it right because they seem to do it in a more natural and simplified way that, at the same time, also supports the environment.  

1 comment:

  1. Great to read about coffee! I loved the smell of coffee roasting, when I was younger than Ismene is now. It was a long time before I liked drinking it. love to you all, Sal