Colombia – Hacienda Venecia Jan 5, 2017

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Slept right through until 7am, so peaceful last night!
We met everyone again at breakfast and said our farewells to Russell & Wendy and John & Denise. We have asked if we can listen in once again to some of the coffee tour as there was so much information to absorb. We listened for 1/2 hour or so and then took a walk over to the hostel and further into the farm. What a gorgeous area!

We arrived back to the Guesthouse in time for lunch, which again was delicious and then relaxed on the deck. The afternoon brought a soft steady rain so Fero had his siesta while I completed my blog for the last couple of days and posted photos on Facebook. A lovely relaxing afternoon!

It’s 5:00pm and that means Happy hour. Although the Guesthouse has its very own corkscrew, Antonio did the honours and opened our bottle with his. We sat on our balcony sipping our wine, the rain had mostly subsided, and the clouds were clearing. The air was moist and warm and we sat until darkness fell and the smell of dinner wafted into our room.

Dinner as always was delicious, with 8 of us around the table to enjoy it. In addition to us, there was Joy & Paddy from Dublin, Rike & Lase from Germany, Leilia & Dan from Mexico. Once again the conversation was lively and just as we were about to retire, Juan Pablo (the owner) joined us with a bottle of Cristal Aguardiente liquor. We all emitted an ooh or an ahh which brought a huge smile to Juan Pablo’s face. Aguardiente is a cane sugar liquor with anise added to it, and is ‘the’ local drink of Colombia. It is a little like Sambuca without the sweetness.

The traditional way to drink it is to first open the bottle and pour a little out on to the ground for your friends and family who have passed. Then each person receives a shot, and similar to tequila, you drink it down all at once. We did this and most of us made a face. Some of us had a second shot and while sipping it Juan Pablo told us a little more about the farm and coffee in general.

He had studied and lived abroad for many years, had experienced wine tasting tours in the Napa Valley and wanted to return home doing something similar with coffee. His idea was a little different as he wanted to spend more time educating guests about coffee and less time selling the product and souvenirs.

When he returned 15 years ago, his uncle who managed the farm wanted to retire and although there were 12 siblings, and many children, none of Juan Pablo’s cousins wanted to manage the farm. Juan Pablo, his father and brother said they would take over management, however they wanted full control to make decisions.

The price of Colombia washed Arabica coffee is sold on the NY stock exchange so can be up one day and down the next. To avoid the volatility of the market, they diversified slightly changing 70 hectares of their 200 hectare farm to bananas, avocados and pineapple. They also added the tourism farm stay, Today, the tourism portion of the company pays for some of the direct costs of the farm, making coffee more profitable. Of each bag of coffee cherries picked, only 20% results in the green seeds that are sold. He explained that for a pound of cherries (16oz) only 3 oz would be sold, and at a $1.50 per pound, this is a tough business. Can you imagine, one pound of coffee cherries picked yields one (maybe two) cups of coffee. No wonder, it costs so much in the cafes.

Although we could have listened forever, it was time for sleep as tomorrow we are off to Marsella, the colonial town of the Spanish telenovela that inspired this trip to Colombia!

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