When we last left off, our intrepid explorers (us) had arrived in Taganga, Colombia. With the exception of a short hike that left Jeff temporarily disoriented atop a jungly hill that he had to bush-whack his way out of (resulting in hundreds of scratches and knicks that looked like they were delivered by the razor sharp claws of a litter of kittens), the days had started to get a little…predictable.
We also had begun to crave some real coffee. Sadly, the vast majority of quality Colombian coffee beans are exported, leaving coffee drinkers with options like NesCafe, which was hard for us to wrap our heads around. After all, this is the land of Juan Valdez – – Remember the commercials with the farmer and his burro, reminding viewers that Colombian coffee is mountain grown, and therefore the best? We needed to find that farmer and his coffee, in order to calm Jeff´s caffeine-withdrawal induced twitching. So, in search of great coffee, we sought out one of the local coffee plantations on coastal Colombia, La Victoria.
Our tour of the La Victoria coffee plantation did not disappoint. It was led by a seventy-something year old guide who had seen it all during his 30-year tenure at the plantation (including a two year period in the early 00’s where members of the FARC forcibly occupied and almost ran the plantation into the ground). It was a great tour, but, sadly, no free samples. Our coffee frustration grew.Finally, on our second to last day in Colombia, we found Juan Valdez! Not the farmer, but the franchise – a Starbucks-like coffee chain, only better. It seems that Juan Valdez has been an iconic representation and marketing symbol of the National Federation of Coffee Growers in Colombia, a cooperative owned and controlled by over 500,000 Colombian coffee farmers. The Juan Veldez chain is also one of the best high-end coffeehouse chains in Colombia, and, we are happy to announce that, unlike the rest of the world, Starbucks has yet to make a dent here.
Jeff and I FINALLY struck gold! My cup of Juan Valdez coffee was one of THE BEST cups of coffee Ive ever had (right after Gimme! Coffee in upstate New York with Sean) so creamy, delicious and walnutty! Thank YOU Colombia!