Category Archives: Cartegena, Columbia

Coffee in Cartagena

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Colombia is known worldwide for its quality coffee. One organization, the Juan Valdez (cartel), is in charge of the country’s industry from requiring buying their variety of arabica plant starts to paying them to remove the fruit hull layer and grade the beans. They will not allow the export of smaller beans, which can be sold for national consumption. Only larger grades are allowed for export.

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I love plants, having a masters degree in agriculture and having grown up in California, but I strongly dislike wine and coffee. The burnt bean smell on my clothing after leaving a Starbucks makes me regret entering. The two buck chuck and the cheap wine craze befuddle me, sulphur doesnt pair well with flavor, is inflammatory, and makes for painful hangovers not even Starbucks can fix.  However, an unlabeled bottle poured by the winemaker him/herself is a treat and an honor of excellence I relish and enjoy, knowing the entire process and trusting the integrity and enthusiasm, care and craft, of the person who guided the process of years it took for that special moment to transpire, sharing the enjoyment of their fruits of dedicated labor.

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On another note, I love chocolate, the darker the better, and it seems coffee would be a natural next step, yet I haven’t ever had more than a sip of coffee my entire 44 years. After experiencing the mere aromas of burnt, stale beans, I’ve never been interested to try coffee in the United States.

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After a month and a half in South America trying the stimulants of the region, greatly enjoying the Yerba Mate tea leaves of Argentina and Uruguay and chewing the coca leaves of Bolivia, it was clearly time to visit Colombian coffee.

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Granted a mocchaccino is not a straight cup of black, bitter awfulness Americans call coffee, but not being a fan of coffee in the slightest, it was all an adventure.

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Farm fresh, premium grade, single origen sourced beans produced such subtle, earthy flavors like I’d never known could be expressed through a coffee infusion. Perfectly blended with milk and chocolate syrup, the combination was delightful and I could finally understand the global addiction to this disgusting legal stimulant traded as a commodity second only to oil.

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Although I’m highly unlikely to try coffee again in the US, I greatly enjoyed the experience of locally grown Colombian coffee in Cartagena made by the cafe barista at San Alberto.

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