Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Coffee Farm Tour (Part 1)

The highlight of my trip to the coffee area of Colombia was a day-long visit to a working coffee farm named Recuca. It was everything that I had hoped to experience at the Parque Nacional del Cafe but didn't. There are tons of photos and details for me to share about the trip so I'm breaking it into three parts.

Today's post is about the field tour, which was led by a Spanish-speaking employee dressed in "traditional" clothing. She walked us through one of the fields of coffee trees and stopped occasionally to point things out.

We learned about how the farm operates, diseases and pests that the farm needs to protect against, all about coffee growing, and lots of other details. There were also some displays with photos and charts that had even more information. This one is about what nutrients the trees need and how they are fertilized:

The tour was super detailed and interesting. I got to learn about the phases of coffee-tree growth including seeing trees that were only days old:

...along with these slightly older ones:

I even had the chance to dress like a coffee picker. The outfit that I wore was made out of old bags that have been assembled into a protective layer worn over regular clothes.

As you can see in the photo above, the two legs were only connected at the waist. They reminded me of the pants that toddlers in China wear during their potty-training period (this was taken in Beijing):

[Photo Removed]

(Yes, kids are potty trained without using diapers. The parents watch their kids for the tell-tale signs that the kid is about to go to the bathroom and they move them to a spot that's acceptable for them to do their business. Very green and 1.3 billion Chinese can't be wrong I guess.)

At the end of the field-tour portion of the visit, we got to try our hand at picking coffee berries. It wasn't coffee-picking season but they let us loose in one of the fields to see how we'd do.

The tour was very educational and fun. I learned a ton about coffee growing and really enjoyed myself. In my next post I'll write about coffee processing as well as the coffee-culture activities that we did after the tour.

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