If you are obsessed with coffee as much I am than the town of Salento, Colombia is a must visit to add to your bucket list! The entire Zona Cafetera region where Salento is located is beautiful and has lots of outdoor activities to offer. This area is especially appealing if you are a coffee lover because there are many plantation houses and coffee farms(fincas) that grow coffee beans the traditional way which results in one spectacular cup of Joe!
Doing one of the many coffee tours in or around Salento is a great way to get a true feel for the region, and an excellent opportunity to experience true Colombian life. Colombian Coffee is argued to be one of the best in the world, and Zona Cafetera is Colombia’s’ coffee country, so don’t miss out on a caffeine-induced adventure! Even if you do not like coffee, you will most likely find a Finca tour interesting, and without a doubt, you will have many great photo opportunities during this kind of excursion.
Coffee exportation is a primary source of incomes for the Plantation Houses in this region. However lately tourism has brought more money in than the coffee exports. The extra money from tourism allows the owners to keep producing coffee the traditional way, instead of changing to the more efficient and lucrative modern techniques.
Salento has many great places to choose from to do a coffee tour. I opted to do my tour with The Plantation House because I heard great things about this company from other backpackers. The name of the coffee farm that The Plantation House does tours of is called Finca Don Eduardo. Before you decide on what company you would like to go with I would check TripAdvsior for the latest review on coffee tours in Salento. The following is a blog on my experience with this coffee tour.
Plantation House Coffee Tour
You can sign up for a coffee tour by visiting The Plantation House on Calle 7 in Salento. I did this tour in 2015, so I’m sure the price has changed. According to some recent blogs, the cost is around $7 USD per person.
The Coffee Farm
Before going down to the coffee farm(Finca Don Eduardo), we walked to a vantage point to see an unbelievable view of the valley. Taking photos of the spectacular scenery was an excellent way to start off our tour!
Once we finished taking pictures from the lookout area, we wandered 10 minutes down a hill along a muddy trail. Luckily rubber boots were provided by the tour company.
Once we reached the farm, Andreas the owner, welcomed us in Spanish. One of the staff members could speak fluent English, so he translated everything that Andreas said during the tour, and answered our questions. Andreas explained everything about the coffee farm from the growing process, the picking, sorting, roasting, and ultimately the brewing of coffee.
This coffee farm has a natural forest around it for protection. The workers plant the coffee seedlings within the trees for shade. The coffee beans on the plants are all hand-picked the traditional way. A lot of coffee farms will modernize their techniques to maximize profits, but the owner of Finca Don Eduardo(Andreas) focuses on producing quality organic coffee beans.
We learned that there are two types of coffee plants; Arabica-Robusta. The Arabica plant produces a higher quality bean but takes a lot more work to cultivate. The Robusta is easier to grow but produces a secondary quality coffee berry. Finca Don Eduardo only produces Arabica beans and has four different types of Arabica plants.
Salento makes for a perfect area to grow quality beans because of its’ high altitude, rainy climate, and fertile volcanic soil. Take all of these natural advantages and mix them with Andreas traditional organic cultivation techniques and you will get one fantastic cup of coffee!
The first part of the tour takes us to the greenhouse where the coffee plants start off as seedlings.
After we got a detailed explanation of the coffee refining process, Andreas took our basket of freshly picked coffee berries and puts them through the stages; peeling, washing, drying, roasting, and ultimately tasting.
Once washed, and dried the coffee beans are put on a sieve to separate them from the husk. The beans will be dry with a yellowish green color. The next stage will be to roast the beans.
At this stage of the tour, the beans were ready for grinding, and the aromas coming from the kitchen were heavenly.
Finally, we got to try the coffee! It was strong with a lot of good flavors! The coffee is always brewed the traditional way at The Plantation House, using a cloth as a filter. If you want to do a coffee tour in Colombia, I would advise coming to this region.
How To Get To Salento
Most people that want to visit the Cocora Valley stay in or near Salento. The quickest way to get to Salento from Bogota is to fly. You can fly one way from Bogotá to Pereira(1hour) from $70 USD to as little as $25 USD if you book your tickets early with VivoColombia.co. You can also check Avianca, Latam Airlines, Flight Hub, CheapFlights.com, or TripAdvisor. From Periera, a taxi to the bus station from the airport should cost around $7 USD and a bus from Periera(45 minutes) to Salento is around $2 USD.
Taking the bus from Bogotá to Salento can sometimes cost more than flying plus it takes 9-10 hours because you have to transfer buses at Armenia or Periera. The average price for taking a bus from Bogotá to Salento is about $25 USD. You can find all the prices at the Bogotá bus station. There are a few companies that service this route. One of the more reputable bus companies is Bolivariano. Click on the link to find out their latest ticket prices.
Option 1 The bus from Bogotá to Armenia(7-9 hours) cost around $20 USD and the bus from Armenia to Salento(1 hour) cost around $1.50 USD.
Option 2 The bus from Bogotá to Periera(6-8 hours) cost around $25 USD, and the bus from Periera to Salento(45 mins) cost around $2 USD.
If you have been on a good coffee tour, or know of a good coffee region, then please share with the rest of us in the comment section. Thanks for visiting today and be sure to visit my travel website for more tips on great places to visit!