We got a taxi straight to the airport from the Eco Farm to get a small airplane by EasyFly an hour flight to Manizales. It was cool sitting right by the wings and seeing the propellers start and go round during the flight.
We taxi-ed to Chinchina, where the Villa Clara Coffee Farm is which is down a fast winding road about 45minutes away.
We arrived early evening and there was no one else staying there. We had the pool, Jacuzzi, pool tables and table tennis table all to ourselves. The Housekeeper and daughter made us some coffee and show us our room. It was the first time in a week where we can have a shower.
The Hotel was lodgings for the workers of the farm, but now it’s used as a guest house. It was set in huge beautiful gardens with an infinity pool looking over Chinchina and the coffee farm. It also had a jacuzzi and sundeck with lots of games to chose to play from. They had 2 dogs, Luna and Sasha.
The next day, the owners of the farm, (father and daughter) came to take us round their farm. It’s been in the family for over 100years and is now 3rd generation. The farm is MASSIVE. They showed us the trees, that they have to cut down every 5 years up to a total of 25 years. After 25 years, the tree is killed and the wood is burned to make charcoal and sold. We saw 2 men burning the wood in a cloud of dust – their faces were completely black from the soot.
All the coffee is hand picked n Colombia and the father is one of National Colombian Regulators, so he is an expert. They showed us from start to finish. The beans are grown in sand under cover in troughs so the roots can go straight down and absorb water faster. They then get transferred to tiny bags like pots to grow. They have to grow 5 pairs of leaves before they can be planted as a tree. The trees are all about waist height and are 1m apart from each other so the pickers can move easily.
During ‘picking season’ they have approx 100 pickers and can produce 35,000kg per DAY! But one tree can only produce 800grams of coffee per YEAR!! I couldn’t get my head around this figure!
We met 2 ‘cleaning pickers’ and one of them had been picking for over 64 year for this farm. He was proud and very happy in his job. He picked super fast and he was allowed to pick all the red beans plus some green beans as it’s the end of the season.
The beans get separated at the cleaning stage so the red beans (heavier) sink to the bottom and the green beans (lighter) float to the top. They are then separated to make the different coffee. Usually, the green beans get made into cheaper coffee to remain in Colombia as the taste is less rich and more bitter. The good, expensive coffee is exported and the very expensive goes to Taiwan!
Inside one of the farm houses, is the processing machinery, although a lot of it is still done manually. First, the beans are weighed so the pickers know how much they earn.
Them, it gets emptied out into a Shute style area and pushed by hand down into 3 holes the size of a football.
The green machine de-shells the beans and sent to a round drum to take off an excess shell before it’s dropped into a ‘bath’ and washed with spring water from the mountains.
It’s a long process but the beans are then taken away to another holding venue (because of possible theft if the beans are left to dry here) to dry and roast.
The beans for Taiwan and roasted in Taiwan, not in Colombia due to import taxation and freshness.
We saw most of the farm and it was so big, it covered most of the land we could see.
We loved it all and learned so much about coffee.
We walked around Chinchina for lunch we learned that this was the place where extortion took place in the time of the drug war. The husband of the daughter grew up here and said killers were not uncommon. Some parts of it felt dodgy and rough, but we met a guy who owned a bike shop and sold very unusual bikes and trikes – he was really interested in Jack’s hand cycle too.
We have saw SO MANY BMX bikes in Colombia – almost as many as the fold up bike in Hong Kong! Which is a LOT!!
We spent the afternoon packing up again and swimming in the pool which was chilly but perfect in the jacuzzi. We really loved the coffee farm and mum said she drank as much coffee over the 3 days as she has in the last month!
We flew to Quito at night and learned our flight with Tame had been cancelled. We asked at a desk and were told to go down this long corridor. Mum went off with the flight details and was gone for ages – eventually she came back with a later (Much later!) flight with Avianca – Colombia’s National Airline, leaving at 8.30pm.
We arrived in Quito hotel just before midnight and got an upgrade to a suite coz my mum doesn’t like lifts, so they put us on a lower floor!