Category Archives: Coffee in Colombia

The First Step of a Coffee Book Journey

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.

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Colombian Coffee Dreams: One Entrepreneur’s Vision

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.

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How to Brew Specialty Coffee that Impresses your Barista

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?”

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What Makes a Specialty Coffee Shop Unforgettable?

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.

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What’s in our Cup: Urbania Cafe

Warning: If you’re not in Medellin, Colombia, or going soon, you may not want to read this post because it can create severe irritation at not having immediate access to this coffee.

What’s the best thing about working in the world of coffee? Drinking it. Of course.

And when you work with coffee, wherever you travel you feel impelled to search out the best coffee shops and down a few cups of joe. Alejandra, our marvelous tour guide for the Flavors of Bogota Coffee Shop Tours, recently did her own investigative research in Medellin, searching out the best coffee shops. As you can see from her satisfied smile in the picture below, she got a good find. The best part is that she brought us back samples from her investigation – a mighty tasty job, indeed.

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Coffee Fair in Bogota

Every year the coffee industry in Colombia has a coffee fair that gathers together everyone involved in the coffee industry – coffee growers, exporters and distributors, coffee shop owners and baristas. From around the world coffee importers come looking for the next specialty coffee to take back home with them.

The most exciting moment of the fair is the national barista championships, where the top baristas around the country compete to see who will be the king for the following year.

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How Coffee Changes Us

I grew up in a house with no coffee. There was no coffee pot on the stove, no coffee maker on the counter. There was no smell of coffee to wake us in the morning and no reason to sit around the kitchen table mid-afternoon. We ate our cookies with milk. And we considered ourselves normal.

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Lighting a Fire under Coffee Culture in Colombia

I met Karen Silva at a Juan Valdez coffee shop. She’s in her twenties. Serious. Shy. In a society that places quite a bit of emphasis on women’s physical appearance, there was no bling about her, no lipstick or flashy earrings. Her hair was caught back in a fine black net, a fashion that every other Juan Valdez employee was sporting. There wasn’t much about her that impressed me.

Until she made that coffee for us.

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