Don Manolo coffee farm is located just ten minutes outside the Pereira city center. It cost 9,000 pesos ($4.41 CAD) to take a taxi from Hostal Kolibri to the farm itself.
We arrived about 11:30am. We hadn't made a reservation...I just assumed that tours ran all day and that you simply show up. But we were very lucky. Don Manolo is a small personalized operation and the owner of the farm, Señor Hector takes you around himself, so we were lucky that he was there and available.
We did the entire visit and tour in Spanish, but Hector and family were very patient and good about repeating things and making sure we understood.
First, we sat at a big table on their beautiful patio overlooking the city.
Ruth, owner Hector, and son Manuel.
Hector went into a lot of detail about the economics of Colombian coffee production and drew us charts and supplied figures regarding the production numbers. Every grower in Colombia belongs to the F.N.C. The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation and there are 550,000 families who belong to the group. 1,500 of those families are small technical growers of which Don Manolo is one.
Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world...next to oil!
Colombian coffee is famous because of the "Juan Valdez" marketing program developed by the federation in 1960. I bet there is nobody reading this who has never heard of Juan Valdez and this famous logo...
But Colombia isn't the largest producer in the world. That title belongs to Brazil, with Colombia number 2 followed closely behind by Vietnam.
As Hector was explaining things, son Manuel was brewing us the perfect cup of coffee.
Pretty fancy coffee making machine!
Interestingly, it was the Japanese who designed this fancy machine that brews the perfect cup of coffee. Yes, you can buy one yourself on Amazon.com...
Pouring a cup of perfectly brewed fresh coffee.
And served with a delicious home baked brownie.
After we finished our coffee and treat, Hector brought us out to his fields on the side of the mountain where 7,000 small coffee trees supply the fruit to make your morning cup. He explained the whole process, from planting the seed to growing the tree and fertilizing and nutrients to make it produce the most fruit.
Señor Hector showing Ruth the coffee trees.
Right now is not the best time of year for flowers, but it is for the fruit. Most flowers will be out again in January. One of the benefits that Colombian coffee growers have in this area is that the climate is such that they have two production seasons per year.
Of course the coffee bean itself comes from the inside of the fruit of the tree.
A ripe coffee "cherry", and a lot of unripe ones still on the tree.
They taste slightly sweet, but I didn't think it had much flavor. And there's not a lot of pulp between the taught skin and the seed...so watch your teeth!
There is a tiny insect which loves to use the coffee cherry as it's nest. Many producers use chemicals to rid themselves of these little pests, however Hector uses another insect that eats the small insect. It's not a perfect system, as he showed us some of the cherries that have been destroyed by the insect.
Coffee production on a small farm is very labor intensive. The beans are all picked by hand, then washed, dried, and sorted by hand. They do have some machinery to process the beans themselves though.
This machine removes the pulp.
The beans are then dried here. It normally takes 8 to 30 days to dry the beans, depending on the weather.
They look like peanuts!
The dried beans still have a shell on them. They have a machine that removes the shell...
This machine removes the shell from the beans.
He adds the husks to his compost which is then spread back on the fields.
Next, the coffee bean is ready to be roasted. This is the process that perfects the flavor and there are different roasting preferences for different parts of the world. There is a scale ranging in darkness from 1 to 16.
Don Manolo coffee is roasted 10-11.
It's a pretty fancy roasting machine!
It does maximum 7 kgs (15 lbs) at a time.
While we're waiting for the coffee to roast, Hector serves some of his wife's home made ice cream with sauce made from the fruit of the coffee tree. Ha...look at the look on Ruth's face!
The freshly roasted coffee.
It is then bagged in bags that have a special valve that only allows humidity out and not in.
We bought a 1/2 lb bag for 8,000 pesos ($3.90 CAD).
Totally a great tour! Cost is 20,000 pesos ($9.80 CAD) per person. I'm sure it depends on how busy they are, but we were fortunate that Hector and family were able to spend almost three hours with us. Very friendly people, and they know everything there is about coffee!
Have to take some time to show you some more photos of their beautiful property...
Lots of hummingbirds about.
The climate is not only good for coffee trees. Many other plants, flowers, and fruits do very well here too!
These giant bamboos are so cool. They grow up to 10 cm (4 inches) per day!
Another neat plant. I don't remember the name, but it was something like maraca.
Beautiful view of the city from the farm.
Hummingbird in nest.
What a great day we had! Not sure what's on the agenda for today, but so far...the sun is shining!