Coffee-tinerary for Colombia
Colombia and coffee belong together like Harry and Sally. Infact, Colombia is the third largest coffee producer in the world, just after Brazil and Vietnam. Nearly 600,000 producers grow coffee mostly on small plots instead of huge plantations and the majority are members of the FNC ( Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia). The FNC is the governing body of Colombian coffee policies and controls coffee exports from Colombia to the rest of the world. Most of the coffee is grown in the so called coffee triangle, encompassing the regions of Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda, where coffee farms are located on steep mountain ranges.
Colombia first appeared on my radar during a trip to Ecuador back in 2009. While staying in hostels I met a bunch of backpackers who've spent a year or longer traveling South America and they all had one thing in common: Colombia was by far their favourite country! Undoubtedly, I had to see for myself and 2017 was the year I'd finally get to experience the provoking street art of Bogota, stunning wax palm trees of Cocoa Valley and colourful alleys of Cartagena. But mostly importantly, I'd get to discover the specialty coffee scene in Colombia. In this article I'll share all my coffee related discoveries with you and more! Let's start in the capital!
Specialty coffee shops in Bogota
Bogota is an exciting capital full of abundant contrasts, vibrant art and bustling with architectural as well as culinary highlights. But it's also a huge city that can feel overwhelming and unpredictable at times. I've found two specialty coffee shops close to main tourist attractions that have not only provided a peaceful shelter when in a state of sensory overload, but have also satisfied my coffee cravings inbetween sightseeing.
La Varietale close to Monserrate
No trip to Bogota is complete without getting a glimpse of the city's immensity from high above on the Cerro de Monserrate. Whether you want to refuel before heading up there or relax on your way back to downtown Bogota, Varietale is ideally located at Parque Germania next to Universidad de los Andes (Edificio Mario Laserna). From Varietale it is less than a 10 minute walk to the Main Cable Car & Funicular station of Monserrate. The project was initiated by Diana and Abel Calderón, who had started out with a business in La Candelaria, before bringing to life the first Varietale in Chapinero district.
The interior is as colourful as Colombia, you'll find artworks and beautiful decorations everywhere! Had a hard time putting my camera down in a picturesque place like this! The crowd is a mix of youngsters and students on their laptops and people working in the area. Varietale also has the widest range of brewing methods that I have ever seen in one single coffee shop. For filter you can choose between Aeropress, Chemex, V60, Syphon, Hermiston, Kyoto, Clever Drip, French Press, and Silvertone. Espresso is extracted on a SANREMO Opera. In terms of coffee it's all Colombian as you might have guessed already! More precisely they feature beans from the Nariño department close to Ecuador in the Western part of Colombia and Herrera as well as Huila region. Most of the coffees have strongly pronounced citric aromas and floral notes - very different from the Colombian coffee I had abroad.
Honestly, I loved Varietale so much, that I would go back to Bogota just to have coffee here one more time! For all you guys who get to experience it, let me know what you think!
MON - WED 07:30 - 20:30
THU - FRI 07:30 - 21:30
SAT 10:00 - 19:30
SUN 10:00 - 18:30
Diagonal 20A No 0-06
Contraste Coffee Lab close to La Candelaria
Manuel Torres founded Contraste Coffee Lab together with Australian national Tommy 2016 in the old part of Bogota - La Candelaria. When you visit Bogota it is likely you'll choose to stay in this neighbourhood as La Candelaria is the historic and cultural center of Bogota. It hosts most of the tourist attractions and museums, including Bolívar Square. Since my visit Contraste have moved a few blocks from Carrera 3 to Calle 16 where they now occupy a space in the Continental Hotel, right next to Museo del Oro! What hasn't changed is that Contraste directly sources and roasts excellent coffee that is very rich in flavour, fruity and naturally sweet from the Cundinamarca region.
Manuel has been working as a barista for 7 years and was one of the finalists in the 2015 national barista championship of Colombia. Maintaining personal relationships with farmers is very important to him and he acknowledges the hard work it takes to grow quality coffee and that it must come at a fair price. "Hacer contraste" is the mantra here and all the staff live by it on a daily basis by putting a lot of effort and passion into serving excellent coffee.
MON - FRI 08:00 - 19:00
SAT - SUN 09:00 - 17:00
Calle 16 No 4-51