Coffee is the planet’s most-traded commodity after oil and Colombia is one of its largest producers, with 500,000-plus growers and the unique benefit of two annual harvests. Recognized for producing world-class coffee, coffee fincas in the Zona Cafetera are now following in the footsteps of the wine industry and opening their doors to curious tourists.
Fincas range from traditional estates still attended by their owner to deceptively modern rural hotels where the only coffee you’ll find comes served with breakfast. Scenically, the farms look out on lush slopes, overgrown with the shiny-leaved coffee shrubs and interspersed with banana plants and bamboo-like guadua forests. Many will also arrange horseriding and walks, and they make an ideal base to explore the region’s many attractions.
To locate the best fincas for your needs, ask other travellers; you can also enquire at the local tourist offices or hostels in Manizales or Pereira.
Hacienda Guayabal Cra 3 No. 15–72 Chinchiná 314 772 4856, http://www.haciendaguayabal.com. Runs tours, in English, of their postcard-perfect coffee farm (COP$30,000). Guests can stay in the main house, and the price includes a tour, three meals and use of the swimming pool. To get there, take a bus from Manizales or Pereira to Chinchiná (30min) and then travel the last 3km by taxi or catch a bus from in front of the church to the farm. Per person COP$50,000
Hacienda Venecia C 59 No. 24A–18 6 885 0771, haciendavenecia.com. This fourth-generation, family-owned working coffee farm is an essential stop for anyone who wants to learn more about coffee production, roasting techniques, trade and aromas. Proud owner Juan Pablo exports coffee as well as roasting for the domestic market. Tours (COP$30,000 including pick-up from Manizales) of his sprawling plantation allow visitors to observe the production process from start to finish. Spend a night at the guesthouse, swinging in a hammock on the veranda, firefly-spotting and listening to the croaks of happy frogs in the swimming pool. Breakfast included. To get there, catch a taxi (COP$35,000) or take a jeep from the Plaza de Mercado in Manizales (3 daily at 6am, midday and 5pm; COP$3000). Per person COP$30,000