Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coffee Carts Of Colombia

In the U.S., if you want some coffee and you're not at home or in the office, you'll probably go to a Starbucks or perhaps a convenience store like Wawa. In Spain, you might take your break at a cafeteria-style place or perhaps go to Cafe de L'Opera. Well, as I wrote back in December, the way that people in Colombia get their coffee fix is a little different. If you don't remember, the story talked about what Tinto was, how much a coffee cost, and, more importantly, it showed some of the mobile-coffee vendors I encountered. Since I wrote that story, I've come across many more mobile coffee vendors/carts that I snapped pictures of. Today, I'd like to share some of the photos.

The first few were located in the main plaza of the town of Cartago in the Zona Cafetera. This first one made a mean "cafe con leche" (coffee with steamed milk). The owner said that her cart was custom made and cost about $2,500 U.S. I liked the "50's-style" stainless-steel metal work:

One of the things that's very cool about these carts is that they are completely self-contained and have all the important tools to make good coffee. For example, this cart has a coffee-bean roaster, a coffee grinder, and a propane (steam) powered coffee maker with a milk-steaming wand:

This is a close-up of the steam-powered, old-fashioned coffee and espresso maker:

This was another similar cart that I also ordered a cafe con leche to compare. It was even better than the first...

I liked the coffee-bean-shaped stand on this other cart:

There were probably six or more coffee carts in this one plaza. They were all similar and had similar pricing. I would have tried a coffee from each one but I think I might have OD'ed on caffeine.

I've run into these "mobile Starbucks" all over Colombia. One of my favorites and, by far, most visited is this cart that you can find all over the pueblo of Chiquinquira. Each time I'm there, I look for this guy (with the striped shirt) because his coffee is amazing. He uses a light-roast and puts a tiny bit of cinnamon on top. Yum!

The next photo was taken in Villavicencio and, although it's not a coffee cart per se, it's definitely mobile. This coffee entrepreneur has the cups, stirrers, sugar, and coffee creamer in a hip pack in front and the coffee spout just behind his left hand. I didn't try his coffee but he's probably my favorite vendor so far.

And finally, it's not coffee related but I love this photo of a mobile goat-milk vendor. Yep, you'll see pretty much everything if you look hard enough. Since my dad is the only person I know who likes goat milk, this photo is for him:

As Juan Valdez might say, Colombian Coffee, It's Different!

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