¿How to choose the best coffee farm?
Choosing which coffee farm visiting in the Eje Cafetero, is as hard as choosing which winery visiting in wine producing areas. There are so many and each one of them has its own charm, that you have to base the election on your own interests (big hacienda, a familiar one, sustainable production, etc.), read from people that have been there before or trust your gut when reading references on TripAdvisor, which is very used in Colombia.
We decided to visit Finca El Ocaso, for various reasons: because it was close to our accommodation, because it’s the one our hostel was recommending, because from all the haciendas we saw around this was the most beautiful and besides it was well positioned in TripAdvisor. Honestly, it was the best choice we could have made, I recommend it 100%.
The following coffee haciendas also caught our attention, but unfortunately they were far from Salento:
¿How to get to the coffee haciendas?
There’s a wide variety of coffee haciendas within a 5km radius from Salento. There are basically two ways of reaching them: by car (Willys) or on foot.
The most popular means of transport in Salento are the Jeep Willys. There are always Willys parked at the town main square (Plaza de Bolívar) in front of the supermarket Supercocora, that come and go from the surroundings of Salento. There’s a small wooden kiosk where you need to purchase your ticket.
The journey cost is different depending on where you’re going. You just indicate your destination to the driver and he will put you together with some more people going the same way. In our case, the round trip to the Finca El Ocaso cost us 6000 COP each, and the journey took 20 minutes.
To make the most of the trip, the Willys are jam packed, and one can even stand on the back grill of the car. Definitely an experience you have to live!
If you’re not in a rush and you don’t mind waking, it’s a good way to start your day. In our case, the Finca El Ocaso is 5 km outside Salento, which makes it a 1h walk. There are other haciendas closer, at 2 or 3 km. On your way back you can still hop on a Willys if you wish, since they ride to all of the haciendas taking and bringing people. You can pay your journey to the driver.
Map of how getting to Finca El Ocaso from Salento on foot:
Tour on a coffee farm: Finca El Ocaso
Finca El Ocaso counts with a beautiful traditional coffee farm, painted in white and red, creating a perfect contrast with the green of its surroundings. It has spectacular views and a very relaxing atmosphere, with the murmur of the Quindío river and the chirping of the birds flying around. They own various hectares of Arabic and Robust plantation, which collect by hand and ends up in the package of their own label, after a process surprisingly simple and almost manual.
They offer two different tours:
- Traditional Coffee Tour: 1h and a half of duration, with a price of 15.000 COP per person (price in 2018), it takes place at 10:00h and at 15:00h in Spanish and almost every hour in English. It includes a cup of filtered coffee tasting.
- Premium Coffee Tour: 3h of duration, it costs 65.000 COP per person (price in 2018), it takes place only twice a day: once in Spanish (9:00h) and another one in English (14:00h). It includes a workshop/tasting of different types of coffee.
We chose the traditional tour, since the Premium seemed too pricey just for adding a couple more explanations and a coffee workshop. What we were most interested in, was getting to know the coffee plantation and the process from the plant to the cup. We took the tour in Spanish with Andrés, a young man, with lots of energy and looking forward to solve any of your doubts.
First of all we tied a little wicker basket around our waist, that would later use to collect some coffee cherries. We walked with Andrés around the coffee plantation and explained to us how they created the ecosystem that they have nowadays, with more than 90 species of birds and 56 varieties of trees.
He showed us the compost plant and how they use, as fertilize, almost anything that falls on the plantation grounds. We learnt how they separate the coffee grains from the cherry, and how they are processed to obtain different kinds of grains, from the “pasilla” to the “almendra”, which is the type exported to the rest of the world. The biggest surprise: coffee grains are white and they taste sweet!
Finally, Andrés made us a cup of delicious coffee, with manually grinded coffee grains, with the exact measures of coffee and water, and filtered with much care.
Ocaso Coffee House
The hacienda also counts with the Ocaso Coffee House, which is a cafeteria where one can have a cup of coffee in a matchless setting. It has a balcony with amazing views and if you stay long enough you’ll have the chance to see the hummingbirds that come by to drink water. It is a beautiful picture!
Here I leave you a video with more information about Finca El Ocaso: