For coffee lovers in Bogota – and around Colombia – today was an exciting day. The largest coffee fair in Latin America, Cafes de Colombia Expo, got off to a caffeinated start.
“Why do you love coffee?”
I was in one of Bogota best specialty coffee shops, Amor Perfecto, with a tour group. Light came streaming in the café on that sunny Bogota morning, and the intoxicating smell of freshly ground coffee made us all a bit dizzy.
Over the sounds of coffee cups clinking against saucers and the typical chatter of a busy cafe, the tour guests crowded in to catch the barista’s answer to my question. The barista thought for a few seconds before answering, and then…what an answer he gave!
Grown on mist covered hills by successive generations of hard-working families, coffee from Colombia is considered some of the best in the world.
However, how can you learn to appreciate and evaluate specialty coffee? Coffee experts often intimidate beginners with complicated questions and impenetrable explanations.
(Of course, they don’t do that on purpose).
Here at Flavors of Bogota we used to feel intimidated. Listening to the experts was like trying to understand someone speak in a language we’d never heard before. Their lips were moving, but we weren’t understanding the info.
You’ve probably heard about espresso, but you may not have tried it. Espresso drinks are a central part of coffee scenes in many countries around the world. However, when faced with a long menu of drinks with names you’ve never heard of, you may get confused about how to order an espresso drink. Here we’ll help you figure out how to order an espresso drink in Bogota.
When people suffer, we want to help. Even a small act makes a difference to a person in need. Maybe the only thing we can give is a hug, a few words of encouragement, or perhaps a smile. Those tiny acts can seem like very little, but they can change a lonely child’s world, comfort an elderly person, or convince a single mother that she can make it through another tough day.
Two items in my kitchen cupboard are not essential but certainly seem to be: coffee and chocolate. Yes, I could live without them – though not too happily.
I’ve also noticed that combining them produces double the happiness. It’s something I did recently by teaming up with Suzie Hoban from the Colombian Chocolate Club for an interview with Richard McColl on Colombia Calling, the top English-language radio show in Colombia.
We did the chocolate-coffee themed podcast at the headquarters of the Colombian Chocolate Club. That’s where Suzie, a university lecturer on the subject of cacao, brings her chocolate knowledge to the public with tastings that feature 100% Colombian products.
So yes, the Coffee Lady got together with the Chocolate Lady to talk about two of our passions.
How far can one idea take you? Where will the casual comment of another person lead you?
I learned a lesson on the power of ideas about a year and a half ago. I was in Mexico City for the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. It’s the top food awards event for the region, when spectacular chefs gather together to celebrate their past achievements and their future goals. The whole week, not just the night of the awards, is a thrilling experience; as a food writer I get to attend numerous dinners and parties in glittering settings and try the best food in the city.
In the mid-1990s, Luis Fernando Vélez was busy selling flowers.
In Colombia that wasn’t uncommon, since the fertile land near Medellin is flower-growing country. In fact, the country is one of the largest producers of flowers in the world. So the next time you receive or send flowers, those gorgeous blossoms might be from Colombia.
You could imagine that those flowers would be from Luis Fernando Vélez’s flower export company. But they won’t be.
You see, Vélez didn’t get that far with selling flowers. The problem was the coffee.
So you’ve taken a tour of specialty coffee shops in Bogota. You were impressed with the skill of the baristas and the excellent brews you tried. Perhaps you bought several bags of Colombian coffee, and you are anxious to impress your friends with your new coffee brewing knowledge.
Now you’re asking yourself: “How can I brew specialty coffee in my kitchen?”
When you visit Bogota, at some point you may find yourself on a chilly street wondering where to warm up with a good coffee. Now, if what you mean by a good coffee is that you need to find a specialty coffee shop, you and I have something in common.
When I began writing travel articles for international publications, I always had to include coffee shops. After all, this is Colombia, the largest exporter of fine Arabica coffee in the world.
It was only after spending large amounts of time with enthusiastic coffee shop owners, talented and generous baristas, and many cups of coffee that I realized I’d found something amazing.