Colombia Trip Part 1

Our trip to Colombia was absolutely spectacular and definitely one of my favorites thus far in my short time in this industry. This trip meant a few things for me: it would be my first time back to my home country since leaving at the young age of 4, as well as my first time seeing a completely different form of coffee cultivating. In Colombia the small farmers all process and dry their own coffee, then sell it to the dry mill to be sorted and bagged, whereas in the other producing countries I have visited, the smaller farmers sell the whole coffee cherries to the larger wet mills, who then process, dry, sort and bag the coffee.
We flew from Kansas City to Houston to Bogota, and during the final leg of the flight I started getting a little nervous. I wasn’t sure if the uneasiness was the result of traveling to a new producing country, or if I was just really that excited to see the country that I had left as a young child so many years back. We ended up getting in late that night, which left us no time to check out what the city had to offer; other than a quick dinner, because we had to get to up nice and early and catch our flight down to Neiva that next morning. The flight to Neiva was absolutely breathtaking, as we flew in a small prop plane just under the clouds, and were able to enjoy the amazing topography that southern Colombia has to offer. This is when I realized that my feeling of uneasiness was not at all a factor of being in a new and particularly unsafe environment, but was from the excitement of exploring the country that I once called home. Once we landed in Neiva we quickly met with our contacts, got in the car and headed to our first coffee stop: the dry mill of Mr. Guillermo Pineda. It was beautiful and extremely state-of-the-art. I was expecting to see large drying patios full of wet coffee, but instead the patios were filled with coffee that was already dry because, as I stated earlier, all the coffee produced is dried by the producer. Once we sat and had some fruit and coffee we went out for a tour of the dry mill. It was definitely one of the largest dry mills I have ever been in, and the rate that they were processing the coffee was amazing. Once we toured the facilities we were treated to a great cupping session with their quality control team. The coffee that we tasted was the same coffee that we purchased, so it was like tasting our coffee back in Kansas City. As always we all had a few different opinions on what we thought was going on in the cups, but in the end Danny and I agreed on the top lot. It is crazy how all of us tasters can have so many opinions, and then how similar my palate is to Danny’s. Come back tomorrow to read about the next few days of our adventure.

Paul Massard
Green Coffee Buyer