International Opinions In this section you may read portions of articles about Colombian and its coffee culture extracted from various international newspapers and magazines so you may know more about this amazing destination only a few hours flight from your home to have outstanding Latin America vacations.
Goodbye Pariah State, Hello Garden Of Eden: How Colombia Became Not Just Safe To Visit, But A South American Must-See
"By MailOnline 28 August 2014 | UPDATED: 16:00 GMT, 2 September 2014"
To talk of a safer Colombia for tourists is a tiresome cliché. Backpackers have plodded through its lush jungles, hit its sweet Caribbean beaches and partied in Bogota for over a decade.What is apparent now is that Colombians, too, have fallen for their country. Head¬ over heels. Like teenagers in the first throes of passion, discovering every beautiful quirk and stomach flip - after years of being locked into an era where the very idea of tourism in their country was anathema. Colombia has more bird species than any other country, including the striking Emerald Toucanet
There are over 3000 orchid species in Colombia, including its national flower (right), the Cattleya trianae Birding continues to be big news here. This is no surprise. There are more bird species in Colombia than anywhere else in the world – 1,880 and counting (including 87 endemics). Even to the avian-ignorant, to see a bright Green-Crested Quetzal swoop through the cloud forest with purpose and freedom is quite transcendental. The end to Colombia’s troubles could be the unclipping of her wings – and if you’re up for adventure, she is ready to soar.
Get A Global Caffeine Fix With These Coffee-Inspired Tours
"By The Guardian 03 October 2006"
Coffee tourism in Colombia Salento, a small town in the foothills of the Cordillera Central. This is coffee country, the centre of Colombia's tropical Zona Cafetera. It is here, between the magical altitudes of 800m and 1800m, that much of the country's annual 66m tonnes of coffee - about 10% of the world's supply - is grown.
And it is here that coffee growers, including Don Elias, first realised the potential of their farms to develop another kind of crop: tourists. Coffee finca tourism, opening up coffee farms to visitors, has been around since the early 1990s. Back then the value of coffee plummeted, and so coffee growers turned to tourists to supplement their income. Much like the Italian idea of "agriturismo", travellers pay to stay on or visit the farms to experience rural life and get an idea of how food, or in this case coffee, is actually produced.
Since those early beginnings, the idea has grown to encompass three coffee-growing regions in the west of the country, Quindío, Caldas and Risaralda. There are 700 fincas listed in the Quindío tourist authority's annual brochure, Haciendas del Café, and down in the valley there is even a coffee theme park. Disney-style rides with a coffee twist - a tren del café (coffee train) and the cabaret-style Show del Café to name just two.
Most of the visitors are Colombians, escaping from the big cities of Cali, Medellín and Bogota for a weekend. International tourism in Colombia is still mainly restricted to cruise passengers visiting Cartagena and backpackers, who can't resist the "Colombia's amazing!" travellers' tales.
Don Gustavo takes us on a tour of his farm. First the fertiliser shed, housing the product of his 300 pigs kept elsewhere on the finca. Then he introduces us to two types of coffee, arabica and Colombian, with red or green berries. He pulls one off. "Bite," he says, "dulce." Sweet. It is too. Inside the fruit, for that is what it is, are two small seeds, the coffee beans. They are cream-coloured and wet.
In the harvest season, March to June and October to December, workers are paid by the gallon. They'll pick three gallons a day, about 10kg, and get 20,000 pesos (just over £4) a gallon for their trouble.
The fruit is then washed, sorted by hand, soaked for 12 hours and the pulp removed by a machine that looks like a car-sized printing press to leave just the beans. After that the beans, white and shiny, are left in the sun or a greenhouse for five days to dry. Then, dried and flaking with a silver husk, they are shaken clean, packed in 60kg bags, and sent for roasting.
So you want to stay on a coffee finca? It helps to speak, or understand, at least some Spanish. There are no non-local agencies offering coffee finca tours. As Colombia is only now opening up to international tourists, most travel is independent and organised after you have already arrived in the country.
Safety and security Is Colombia safe? The Foreign Office advises against travel to certain regions in the north, notably the Cidade Perdida (Lost City), and the west. But Quindío, Salento and the surrounding countryside are considered generally safe. Tourism is on the up in the area, and the Farc, Colombia's most notorious Marxist rebel group, were moved out of the region two years ago. Local information on the current situation is typically sound and will be given freely and honestly from your host or local travel agency.
A Journey To Colombia’s Coffee Belt
"By New York times 07 March 2017"
Coffee is at the heart of Jardín, as corn is to small town Iowa: the local economy that forms a cultural identity. When my tinto — straight black — arrived, it was easy to see why: The flavor, strong and bold, flowed directly from the beans, not a burned layer from roasting. I took another sip from my teacup-size demitasse and noticed that of all the people drinking coffee around me, a travel mug or paper cup was nowhere to be found. No one was taking their coffee to-go. Everyone was sitting, sipping, enjoying.
In the 1990s, a collapse in commodity coffee prices hit Colombia hard. Half of its coffee market value vanished, and thousands of families in coffee-growing regions were pushed into poverty. As a strategy for the future, the Colombian government began encouraging and supporting farms to grow higher quality beans that qualify for specialty coffee markets, where prices are higher and more stable.
…When we had arrived in daylight, the foliage was so thick I couldn’t see beyond the trees. But now I realized those stars were the porch lights of fincas on the next mountain ridge, each light a home like this one.
It was a reminder that coffee here is a family affair. And if you slow down, sip, really savor, you can taste earnest endeavors and lifetimes of devotion.
The Coffee Trail
"By New York Times 12 February, 2006"
…In many areas of the country, a three-year government offensive has pushed rebel groups back. There are now a few safe pockets beginning to attract foreigners.
Among them is the Eje Cafetero (the "coffee crossroads"), made up of three diminutive states -- Quindío, Risaralda and Caldas -- about 100 miles west of Bogotá, recognized as the source for some of the world's best coffee. In the smallest and most charming, Quindío, beat-up World War II-era Willy Jeeps carry loads of bananas and heavy sacks of coffee to market on meandering country roads. The state's 11 towns are simultaneously charming and a little worn on the edges.
On a slow drive across Quindío, the spectacular panorama bursts into view at unexpected turns. Plump hillsides teem with banana trees or coffee plants, many of them decades old. Slender gullies feature the cartoonish guaduales, giant bursts of bamboo topped by delicate foliage.
"There are 12 tones of green, wherever you look," Maria del Rocío Baena, the owner of one farm, tells me.
For visitors from frenzied cities like Medellín or Cali, coffee country is an oasis of sorts, a journey back to a more tranquil and traditional Colombia, where most people lived on farms and coffee was king.
The day I arrived at this 120-year-old restored plantation, the porticos and rooms were teeming with mountain bikers. In the kitchen, I found two young foreigners, David Botzer, 29, an Israeli computer programmer, and Peter Meek, 24, a mechanical engineer from New Zealand. Colombia had been an afterthought for them, mysterious and risky. But both said they found the spectacularly rugged coffee country to be safe and the people courteous.