In the mid-1990s, Luis Fernando Vélez wasn’t concerned about Colombian coffee. He 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.
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.
How can specialty crops create hope?
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. 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.
At the advice of a friend, I organized my tours and made them available on Flavors of Bogota. They’ve been a huge hit, and have sent me down a caffeinated path I never thought I’d take. That path, as the best paths do, led me to somewhere unexpected. It led to a book.
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?”
And you’re also probably saying, “Please make this simple for me.”
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.
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.
I want you to know that I did not feel deprived. But after my dad discovered specialty coffee, things changed.
Join Flavors of Bogota for a coffee shop tour! We visit some of the best shops in the city, where you can meet top baristas and learn to taste and brew specialty coffee like a pro! Find out more here.
The judges stood in a line, facing him. Diffuse sunlight filtered through the window behind them, and in the background stood brick buildings with that orange tint so typical of Bogota.
No one was interested in the view.
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.
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.
Don’t miss Part 2 of this article.
Since I moved to Colombia I’ve heard over and over again that Colombian coffee is the best. My reaction is: “Of course Colombians would say that!” But when doing research into what makes a good cup of coffee, I found some interesting facts about Colombia.
The Specialty Coffee Expo took place from October 15-18 in Corferias, when 13,000 visitors came to taste coffee from around the country at the most important coffee fair not only in Colombia, but also Latin America and the Caribbean. This annual fair is organized by the National Coffee Federation of Colombia (Federación Nacional de Cafeteros (FNC).
100% Colombian coffee – that expression is known around the world. Coffee has been one of Colombia’s most steady exports for decades.
It is any different to taste a cup of coffee in Colombia?
I watched a Colombian grandmother make coffee in a way that shocked my American roots.