Dining in Style in Cartagena

Cartagena, a tropical seaside city, is all about sun, relaxation, and sand beneath your feet. But Cartagena has so much more than that, with a growing – perhaps more appropriately called exploding – restaurant and food scene. New restaurants are constantly opening their doors, and the attention of the world is focused on this city for food lovers.

When you want to add a touch of luxury to your vacation – perhaps celebrate a special event or spend a romantic evening – there are plenty of top notch restaurants that serve both Colombian and international cuisine. Cartagena’s chefs and restaurant owners make good use of the gorgeous boutique hotels set in fabulously restored mansions that dot the historical city.  Here, the dining experience goes beyond the food and immerses you in a cultural and historic journey.

Some of the top places to eat in Cartagena, mostly within the walled city:

Marea by Rausch

Mojarra frita Marea Cartagena

Vera

Vera Cartagena Lechona

Alma

Baked Lobster tail Alma Cartagena

El Gobernador by Rausch

El Gobernador Cartagena

Carmen

Duo de cangrejo Carmen Cartagena

1621

1621 Cartagena

The Red Knife

Frank and Frank

 

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What goes on at a Coffee Tasting in Bogota? Part 2

Thinking of doing a coffee tasting in Bogota? Here’s a guide to get the most out of it.

In the first part of this series we discussed what gadgets are necessary to cup or taste coffee, what the coffee evaluation involves, and what points to keep in mind when evaluating it. Now we’ll go into the details about the characteristics you should look for to evaluate the cup of coffee you have before you. You’ll want to have your pen and scoring sheet with you while you try the coffee.

Colombian coffee beans at Amor Perfecto, Bogota
Colombian coffee beans at Amor Perfecto, Bogota

Coffee tasting

Fragrance/Aroma

The dry fragrance (sometimes called dry aroma) of the ground coffee should be evaluated. That simply means you should sniff the dry grounds.

After the grounds are infused with water, they are left for at least three minutes. You’ll see a thick crust form over the top. Now comes one of the most exciting moments in the cupping – when the barista carefully breaks the crust with a spoon, releasing what is appropriately called the break aroma. Now you can sniff again. Now you can rate fragrance and aroma.

Coffee cupping Bogota

Note: fragrance and aroma are two words to define the same thing (the smell) but fragrance refers to dry grounds and aroma to wet ground.

Slurp…

At this point you want to forget the aromas because you’ll be moving on to the next phase: flavor.

So, now slurp your coffee. What? Didn’t my mother teach me never to slurp? Well, sometimes it’s necessary, and not just when you’re eating hot soup. You want to make sure you get the brew all over your tongue and palate to fully feel the flavors and get a sense of the body.

Black coffee Bogota

Flavor

Flavor – what is your fist impression? Slurp the coffee to get it all over your tongue and mouth. Your tongue registers different sensations – sweet, sour, bitter, savory – all over the tongue.

There are tastes common in many Colombian coffees: floral, fruity, citrus, vanilla, chocolate, sugar cane (panela), nutty.

Of course, whatever gets the idea across is good, so if it tastes like fresh cut summer grass, well, that’s you’re take on it. What’s important is to get the idea of what you taste across.

Concentrate on flavor and aftertaste, and rate them.

Coffee cupping Bogota, Colombia

Acidity, Sweetness, Body

Now the coffee has cooled a bit more, which is just the right temperature to taste again. My reaction when I first heard this was, “WHAT!? I don’t want cold coffee.” The reality is that cooler coffee is better, since you can detect more flavors. This is the moment to rate acidity, body and balance.

Acidity is important to coffee, since it gives it a bright, sharp taste. Acidity is the tangy, tart taste. When it gets sour it went too far and deserves a lower score. Take a slurp and concentrate on acidity. Does the coffee feel fresh and bright? Is it mild? Too intense?

This is also when you can judge how sweet it is (as in not sour or green or astringent). Sweetness balances out acidity.

Body is how the coffee feels in the mouth – concentrate on your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Body can be heavy or light – and both can be pleasant.

Balance, Clean Cup, Aftertaste

Balance is simply how it all works together (complementing and contrasting flavors) – flavor, acidity, body and aftertaste (finish). You don’t want a bitter cup or a weak, tasteless one.

Judge how uniform and clean the cup is. A clean cup is when the total flavor experience is free of defects.

The aftertaste (finish) is the positive taste that you feel even after you’ve swallowed the coffee – how long it lingers and how positive that taste is.

Overall

So how did the coffee rate? Did it meet expectations? Did it reflect the particular flavors for its origin? This is your personal opinion, so express yourself!

Weighing coffee at Amor Perfecto

Scoring

So how should the final score be calculated?

Total Score:

  • If it’s below 80, it’s not specialty coffee.
  • Specialty coffee: from 80 on up
  • Good: 80-84.99
  • Excellent: 85-89.99
  • Outstanding: 90-100

Learning

Of course, all this takes time. After doing several coffee tastings, sipping many coffees side by side, you can begin to distinguish one taste from another, understanding the structure of each particular coffee. But in the end, all that matters is – was the coffee good? Was it great? And that is up to you.

Coffee lab at Amor Perfecto, Bogota
Coffee lab at Amor Perfecto, Bogota

Interested in learning more about coffee tastings in Colombia? Join Flavors of Bogota for our Coffee Shop Tour.

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Bread on a Bus: An Unlikely Bakery in Bogota

I can’t remember the last time I bought bread on a bus. I’m not talking about the vendors who offer food and candies on Bogota’s bus system. This is a different kind of bus. Yes, it’s fire engine red, just like the famous Transmilenio buses zipping through Bogota. But this one is double-decker, announces London stops, and has Lion King and Phantom of the Opera advertising on the back.

And it’s parked. Permanently. (Which is a good thing, since it probably has British plates).

Continue reading Bread on a Bus: An Unlikely Bakery in Bogota

Flavor Fridays: Aromatica Tea at La Florida

This photo of aromatica, a type of fruit tea, forms part of a photo series called Flavor Fridays. Each week, one dish is featured that the Flavors of Bogota team has given their seal of approval.

Continue reading Flavor Fridays: Aromatica Tea at La Florida

Everything Edible in Colombia