Un tinto por favor

Did you know that when asking for a coffee in Columbia you should ask for tinto?

This is how the cup of black coffee is called here.

I realized that I actually do not know a lot about my favorite hot drink. That one that I would die for. Especially in Asia I was longing for a good coffee. Here probably the fans of Vietnamese coffee would protest. Coffee in Vietnam is served as poured with water filtered directly over a little glas (this filtering takes ages, so it’s getting cold in the meantime) and after that a tones of condense milk is added producing sweet ‘killer’ drink. My taste (and heart) definitely denied cooperation.

Being spoiled by the quality of coffee in Colombia since the beginning of the trip I finally landed in Salento, in so called ZONA CAFETERA, an easy-going village near to Armenia. It would have been a sin to be in ZONA CAFETERA and not having visited a coffee farm. So I to nearby coffee plantation FINCA DON EDUARDO.

Finca means little farm. DON EDUARDO inherited its name after the owner, Edward from Australia, that came here 10 years ago. It’s him that introduced me to the secrets of coffee production. Excellent presentation of coffee production for dummies.

After coffee class with Dan Eduardo I felt a bit more educated (however still beginner). I got to know that there are two main kinds of coffee – first one, ROBUSTA, comes from western Africa (more less 1/3 of world’s production) and ARABICA produces mainly in Ethiopia. The first one does not have too much taste and can also be produced in a bit colder sphere, in opposite to ARABICA, that requires special conditions and is produced mainly between xxx Cancer and Capricorn. But not only climate matters but also the high. Arabica does not like to get too high and apparently 100-600m seems to be enough. Volcanic soil is more than welcomed (it exist also high mountains coffee grown at 600-1200 m which is also much more expensive).

Coffee plants can get to 10 meters high. Traditional coffee also likes shade of trees, therefore most of the farms looks like a banana-bamboo forest.

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The beans can be red or yellow and after peeling you cannot say which was which. There is not formal standard been size for coffee as well. They are actually divided for big and small. And guess which one are better (we are in macho country!). Yep, big ones. Therefore in Columbia there is a tendency to produce modern coffee (means not modified but developed in the laboratory) as it is more sure that grains will be big which means more money for the producer. The coffee is usually picked up in a rain. Coffee beans grows always branch down or plant up, but never twice in the same place.

Once harvested and selected (small from big grains) the coffee is packed in huge packs and sent to wholesaler. It is only sample that is checked for grain size and weight based on which parameters the price is set.

The next step is roasting. You have to know that roasting not only takes caffeine out but also hides coffee’s imperfections. From 100kg of coffee grains one receives only 14 kg of roasted coffee. It takes also experience to roast it – the longer the stronger the taste. So you have to know when to stop it. For example 300g of coffee grains roasted for 10 minutes give soft taste. Same amount roasted 2 minutes more will change it to very strong coffee.

So how to recognize good coffee? It will have chocolate color after roasting.

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When we look at main coffee producers it is Brazil with 42-44% of world’s coffee production (Arabica), on the second place (surprisingly) Vietnam with robusta, further on 3rd and 4th place (and it varies from year to year) is Java (Arabica and a bit of robusta) and Columbia (mainly arabica). Further on there are Ethiopia, Mexico and India.

In Columbia there are two types of coffee, traditional and modern. Everyone grow here Arabica. There are over 100 types of coffee and none of them has been genetically modified. There is no Colombian brand whatsoever as it is ‘family business’ and at the moment there are over 200 000 families producing coffee. However there is a cooperation between them under the common name Juan Valdéz Café.

My favorite one? Cafe con leche y Chantilly!

If you want to grown your own coffee visit www.yourowncoffefarm.com