Sponsored by True Colombia Travel
1. Coffee can be as complex as wine
Everyone knows what bad coffee tastes like, but did you know that good coffee can play host to a whole array of complex flavors? From cognac to mandarin oranges, the flavor of a bean starts with the seed (not in those syrupy bottles you see at your local coffee shop), and the final outcome can be changed at any point during the growing, roasting and brewing process. In fact, TCT’s guides like to say that the difference between a full and flavorful dark roast and a burnt cup of beans is about three seconds or less! A lot goes into the tasting of coffee as well, and the process can be similar to tasting wine, with attention being paid to acid levels, bitterness, florals, start and finish in mouth, and aftertaste (hint: there shouldn’t be one!).
2. Drinking bad coffee can kill you
That’s right, coffee can be toxic. When beans are roasted, their natural sugars are caramelized. If you over-roast them, they can undergo a chemical change and become carcinogenic. Coffee beans can also contain mycotoxins – compounds that result from fungal growth – which can cause cancer, kidney disease, and a bitter flavor. Studies have shown that most beans (91.7%) grown for the mass market are contaminated with mold, meaning that most of the coffee we drink (particularly blends) contains mycotoxins. Oil is another warning sign – if you see containers of shiny, glistening coffee beans in the market, stay away – an oily exterior means they’re expired! According to Ana Piedrahita, True Colombia Travel partner and Director of Coffee Experience, "it’s important to do your research, buy your coffee beans from a single source. And of course, enhance your coffee savvy on a tour with the experts at TCT!"
3. Coffee makes great tea
It’s true! Coffee beans are actually a form of cherry and grow in bushes that smell like jasmine. What many people don’t know is that the skin of the cherry also makes a lovely, fruity-tasting tea, is very high in antioxidants, and is even used as an ingredient in makeup products. The cherries can take about nine months to mature, and only the ripe fruits can be harvested for coffee. At Café Cocondo, they’re careful not to waste anything, and even mix brewed grounds with honey for a skin exfoliant. Guests can indulge in this unique facial treatment on True Colombia Travel’s True Aroma tour.
4. Colombia’s top “coffee region” is not where everyone thinks
While many think that El Eje Cafetero (the Coffee Axis) is the greatest producing coffee region in Colombia, the three regions which comprise the Axis (Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio) combined barely produce more than Antioquia (Colombia’s second-greatest producing region) alone, according to the Federation of Coffee Cultivators of Colombia. The real top coffee producer, Huila, is actually rather challenging to visit, so True Colombia Travel turns to Antioquia to give guests a true taste of Colombia café. Working exclusively with three of the most important coffee fincas in the country, TCT hosts tours with San Cayetano, the first farm to produce coffee commercially in Colombia; Café Cocondo, the first certified organic coffee farm in Antioquia, and the award-winning Café Roldan, which is gaining international recognition for its scientific innovations in coffee production.
5. Coffee farmers often drink the worst brews
There are downsides to producing the highest quality of coffee in the world. As of 2016, Colombia was exporting 75 percent of its best beans, meaning little is left for those who grow them. While a rising awareness throughout the country is resulting in better coffee being made more available – and affordable – to Colombians, it’s still not easy to find a good cup of joe. Fortunately, the folks at True Colombia Travel take travelers to some of the best producers in the country – and can guarantee a quality brew as part of the experience.
6. Coffee Came to Colombia After an Attempt to Murder its Liberator… by one of its future presidents!
In 1828 Simón Bolívar was known as the Great Liberator of Colombia after defeating the forces of the Spanish in the region. But some of those close to him wanted him dead! One of those conspirators, Mariano Ospina Rodriguez (who would later become president of Colombia), was exiled from the capital for his role in the assassination attempt and his family eventually fled to Guatamela during which they became Central American coffee farmers. They eventually returned to Colombia to became the first commercial growers of Colombian coffee, based in the town of Fredonia, Antioquia. The farm is still in the Ospina family, and today vía True Colombia Travel you can visitSan Cayetanoto learn about all the history of coffee in the country.