Colombia produces some of the finest coffee in the world and is the third-largest global producer behind Brazil and Vietnam. Coffee tourism is increasingly popular here, but there is so much more to discovering the local coffee culture than a basic tour. From immersive cultural experiences to traditional coffee region festivals, here are the best coffee experiences you can have in Colombia.
This immersive, full-day coffee experience is run by Experiencia Cafetera, and goes into far more detail than most other tours. The WakeCup Experience not only visits a working coffee farm – run by a formerly displaced farmer now producing his own specialty coffee – but delves into the human side of coffee as well. Visitors spend time with coffee pickers, Jeep drivers, farmers, and whoever happens to be around the town square in Pijao – a delightful little town that retains all its authenticity. The aim of the experience is to show how coffee has played such a pivotal role in the entire culture and history of the Colombian coffee region. And you get to drink lots of freshly roasted and ground coffee as well.
Flavors of Bogotá Specialty Coffee Experience, Bogotá
Bogotá is home to a burgeoning specialty coffee scene, with excellent cafés serving third-wave Colombian coffee on just about every corner. A growing number of coffee entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this wave of quality coffee with tours to coffee shops, on which you can discover the world of Colombian specialty coffee, and learn from the world-class baristas brewing it. The best of the bunch is the Specialty Coffee Experience by Flavors of Bogotá, which takes you to at least three different cafés around the city.
You’ll learn from baristas exactly what makes Colombian coffee so special, and the best ways to prepare it so you can enjoy its many flavors and profiles. It’s the perfect way to experience a different side of Colombian coffee culture while drinking some of the best coffee in the world.
For an immersive getaway in the coffee region, focus your entire experience on those magic little beans. Hacienda Venecia is a working coffee farm near Manizales, which also offers some of the best accommodation in the Zona Cafetera in beautiful and authentic traditional houses. With options to suit all budgets – including a hostel and guesthouse – Hacienda Venecia is perhaps the best place to stay in Colombia to be immersed in the landscape and culture of Colombian coffee.
The best coffee-lover’s hostel in Colombia, Panorama Café Hostel is themed around Colombia’s most iconic national product, with specialty coffee from local farms available all day, every day. The walls are adorned with images of local coffee producers and farmers, all accompanied with QR codes linking to recordings of them explaining their connection to coffee. In the small coffee town of Buenavista – which lives up to the name, offering some of the best views in the region – the hostel works alongside Experiencia Cafetera, and is the perfect base for enjoying their tours. If you’re backpacking in Colombia and love coffee, this is the hostel for you.
One of the oldest working coffee plantations in Colombia, La Victoria Coffee Company was founded in 1892, and soon after began producing coffee in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains – where the small town of Minca is located. A coffee tour of Finca Victoria is less focused on the plants, and more on the machinery of the farm, which dates back to Victorian times and is entirely self-sustaining, being run by nothing but water from the surrounding mountain streams. Coffee beans are moved from the plantations on the mountainside by gravity and water-powered generators. La Victoria is a fascinating window into the long history of Colombian coffee production and the incredible machinery that powers the industry.
Arguably the Colombian cafe with the most beautiful view, Café San Alberto is perched on a slope overlooking the central plain of the Quindio department, with the Western Colombian Andes visible in the distance. The premium coffee here is the most decorated in Colombia, having won a variety of taste and quality awards. It’s all grown on the slopes around the cafe, which serves delicious specialty coffee on a small terrace overlooking that spectacular view (the sunsets here are especially gorgeous), and they offer a coffee tour and tasting experience as well. Café San Alberto is probably the most beautiful spot in Colombia to enjoy a cup of quality coffee.
Parque Nacional del Café is a theme park owned and operated by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, just outside the city of Armenia. With interactive exhibits focusing on the history and culture of coffee, a coffee museum, coffee-themed food stalls, as well as rollercoasters, log flumes and bumper cars, the park is the perfect place to discover the history of coffee and have a fun day out at the same time. Perfect if you’re traveling with children, it isn’t exactly ordinary – after all, where else can you find a coffee theme park? – but a fantastic way to experience coffee from a different perspective.
Although not strictly a coffee experience, there is no better way to explore the culture of the Coffee Region than to enjoy the festivities of one of the Yipao Jeep Parades – a long-standing cultural tradition focused around the Willys Jeeps common in the Coffee Zone. The hardy vehicles were first imported to Colombia from the United States in 1946 to transport coffee and goods along the treacherous mountain roads of the region, and have been inextricably linked to Colombian coffee culture since. During Yipao – the most famous parades are in Armenia and Calarca – the Jeeps are paraded through the streets fully laden with goods and decorations, and also take part in daring acrobatic feats on just their rear wheels. Yipao is perhaps the best way to experience the deep cultural connection that rural Colombia has to coffee.