Will’s Food Diaries: Colombian Coffee Farms

Posted on Posted in Origin stories, Tidbits

You might be hankering for a KitKat by 11am, after dealing with a particularly problematic Excel spreadsheet… but believe us when we tell you that coffee farming is the real definition of hungry work.

Manually stripping coffee cherries from trees under the baking sun, shifting sacks of them around the farm, raking drying beans over and over again. It uses a lot of energy. And all that effort deserves to be fuelled by a slap up meal!

As Will will tell you, these meals are really as good as they look:

Speaking of that KitKat, let’s start off with what the Colombian coffee farmers Will knows are snacking on…

“This is a snack of Colombian cheese and crackers – a bit like plain Ritz crackers – and biscuits filled with a guarana jam. A delicious snack indeed, even for the 6th time in a day… there’s no risk of going hungry when you’re visiting coffee farms!”

Forgot the trendy Islington brunch spots splashed all over Instagram, we’ve got some insider knowledge for you (if you’re ever about Huila, Colombia that is…):

“The kitchen table in Maria and Jose Ramone’s house on Finca Buenos Aires is, without a doubt, the best brunch spot on the planet. From grilled steak, plantain crisps and tomato salsa to the scrambled eggs with tomato, fresh scotch egg and sweet, fresh corn arepas (arepas de Choclo) it’s a feast.

There was also always a bag of freshly made doughnuts from the local village. All that’s before you get to the panoramic views of the Andes mountains and the coffee farms which cover them!”

And the barbecues Will goes to on his travels definitely beats the charred-yet-underdone sausages you chuck on a disposable in a windy park:

“Spoils from the BBQ, this is grilled beef steak and a hot spiced pork sausage with some fresh new potatoes and the best guacamole you’ll ever taste.” – Will Corby

 

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Psst… Wanna know one of the biggest perks of Will’s job? As a professional cupper, he needs to keep his tastebuds fine-tuned. He needs to identify the broadest range of flavours, from spicy salami to sticky date cake, which means his homework is trying as many different foods as he can! We’re jealous…

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And Maria and Jose (ultimate brunch makers, as Will told us) keeps all the workers stuffed and smiling, despite owning and managing two whole farms!

“This is the stove at Finca Buenos Aires where Maria de Rosario makes breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of the people they have staying and working on the farm. Lunch is served in tiffin crates which stack hot soups, rice and arepas individually – sometimes there’s also a sweet treat to keep them going until dinner.”

For Will one of the most memorable ‘sweet treats’ was pineapple… but not as you know it!

“Piña or Pineapple was ruined for me the first time I travelled to El Salvador and onto the rest of Latin America. Tasting fresh pineapple is an amazing experience and once you have tried it, it’s hard to think of the underripe pineapple we get in the UK as even the same fruit.

Juicy and so ripe you can eat straight through the core, it’s always a highlight of my trip to eat the super fresh pineapple… you have to be careful though, as all that acidity does some weird things to your tongue. And when you’re on a trip specifically to taste and buy coffee and inform farmers on production techniques, you can’t eat too much.”

A cheesy drink doesn’t sound like everyone’s cup of tea, but keep an open mind…

“This is aguapanela con queso – a very popular drink in Colombia. I drank this having cycled up to over 3500m, into a damp and cool mountain climate above the clouds. Hot water is mixed with panela, a derivative of cane sugar, then a lump of soft cheese with the texture of mozzarella and the flavour of a Dairylea triangle is dropped into the bottom.

You eat the cheese as you drink the sugary water – it may not sound it, but it’s really tasty! Panela has a lot more flavour than sugar you might find in the UK, as it’s much less refined so this drink tastes almost like caramel and apple… with some cheese.”

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So what do you think? Anything on here worth trying, or maybe we’ve mentioned one of your favourite foods already? Let us know in the comments!

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