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.
With the emblematic sound of Bogota in the background (rain pouring down) as well as the more cheerful sound of breaking chocolate among friends, we spoke about the closely related subjects of cacao and coffee.
The interview took us around the country to little-known regions and even into the future as we discussed what these two products mean to Colombia.
We talked about chocolate in Colombia…
- What’s new in the high-quality Colombian cacao scene?
- What similarities are there between cacao and coffee?
- What is a traditional cacao farm?
- Why is Colombian cacao still an ‘invisible’ product?
- How do Colombians show their generosity in the world of chocolate – and why aren’t they afraid to share their secrets?
And we talked about coffee in Colombia…
- What makes specialty coffee special?
- Who is attracted to our coffee experiences?
- Why did a foreigner set up a coffee shop tour in Colombia?
- What are ‘exotic’ varieties of coffee and why should you try them?
- Why is taking a coffee tour or chocolate tasting enormously different from doing it on your own?
- How can you help specialty coffee and chocolate producers?
If you’re looking for gifts to take back home with you or tips on what to do with friends and family that visit you in Bogota, don’t miss this episode.
Also, find out why Suzie considers Permission to Slurp to be the perfect book to help you prepare for your visit to Colombia.
Want to learn more about chocolate or coffee in Colombia?
Get the details about the Flavors of Bogota Coffee Experiences.
Learn more about Colombian chocolate with the Colombian Chocolate Club.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you love coffee and are in Bogota this weekend, don’t miss Carulla es cafe, a fair dedicated to Colombian coffee. The Carulla supermarket chain will host this event at the Unicentro Shopping Mall from August 19-21.