Colombia Travel

Don Elias' Organic Coffee Farm

OBELO | Coffee Cherries

Don Elias' small, old-school organic coffee farm is located in Salento, Quindío. We took a tour this past winter while staying at La Serrana, a mountain top farmhouse-turned-hostel. The tour was lead by Don Elias' grandson, who actually grew up in Jersey but has gone back to Colombia to give tours and run a tejo bar in town.

Ripe Arabica coffee cherries, one is a typical variety and the other is the Colombia variety.


Coffee beans drying in the sun.

Green beans before roasting.

After roasting and ready to enjoy! ☕


Fermented Guarapo, a Farmers Fuel

OBELO | Fermented Guarapo
OBELO | Fermented Guarapo

Last month, on a hike up the river behind my dad's house, we came across José Malavera's farm. He was actually excited to have some unexpected guests and gave us a tour. He grows legumes and raises pigs, chickens and turkeys. While showing us around, he graciously offered a cup of fermented Guarapo (a sort of sugarcane wine). He usually has a Totuma (a cup made from a hollow gourd) or two throughout the day to keep him going. It was pretty strong, but definitely a much needed energy boost after hiking all morning.

Guarapo jugs are never totally emptied. Once they get low, more fresh guarapo is added, and a new batch ferments with what's left from the previous batch. Making it an ever evolving brew.

We also bought chickens from him, we chose two of his largest ones and didn't even negotiate a price, just made an offer and with a nod of his head, he approved the fair deal. That night, we grilled them on the parilla for dinner. It doesn't get much more local than chicken from a hidden farm, in what's practically your backyard.

OBELO | Fermented Guarapo
OBELO | Fermented Guarapo

Music and Drinks from the Colombian Pacific

OBELO | Guarapo

While walking around Cali yesterday we came across a concert with bands from Colombia’s Pacific Coast. The most popular style of music from there is called Currulao. Its largely afro-influenced, the main instrument is a Marimba, a wooden xylophone originally from Africa. Like any concert, there was also plenty to eat and drink. 

OBELO | Guarapo
OBELO | Guarapo
OBELO | Guarapo

Here’s a vendor making Guarapo, a raw sugarcane juice with lime. The raw juice is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and it’s sweet and refreshing.

To make Guarapo, he cuts the sugarcane in half the long way, making it easier to pass through the press. The press, or trapiche, extracts the raw juice from the sugarcane, sending the crushed cane out the other side. If they were making panela, the raw juice would be slowly heated over low heat until most of the water evaporates and becomes a thick syrup. But here they add some fresh lime juice and viola, Guarapo

OBELO | Viche

We also met Camilo. He makes traditional Afro-Pacifico alcohol from sugarcane. He made us try every single one.😜

First we tried the Viche, a super strong, clear liquor made from sugarcane. Viche doesn't have a distinct flavor, it tastes kind of like vodka. For centuries Viche was used as a stomach medicine and aphrodisiac. Now, just the latter.😉 Next we tried the Arrechon, which is Viche with condensed milk, cloves and cinnamon. It tastes pretty good, but I’m not into milk + liquor. We finished with a shot of Tomaseca, my favorite. Tomaseca is kind of like an apéritif. It’s Viche infused with herbs and spices that give it a warm, woody taste. 


Farmers Market in Cali

OBELO | Panela

For our very first travel post we want to share a few great finds at a farmers market in Cali, Colombia. Here's a picture of a young Guambiano girl with blocks of panela melao that her and her family made. Panela melao is softer than traditional blocks of panela because it is has a higher moister content. The Guambianos are an indigenous group from Cauca. 

OBELO | Farmers Market

Here's cheesemaker and goat farmer, Beatriz Navia. She was sampling the three different types of cheese that she makes: fresh, aged and ricotta. Each has that tart, earthy, distinctly goat flavor but the textures were super unique. The fresh was our favorite, it's texture was more like Queso Fresco, less like Chevre.

OBELO | Farmers Market
OBELO | Plantains
OBELO | Panela Melao