Monday, 21 August 2017

Sustainable living, Colombian coffee-country style

It's generally accepted that no visit to Colombia is complete without a trip to its famed coffee region, the Eje Cafetero as it's known here. Even if the beverage is not your thing, the scenery that this part of the country boasts is as stunning as you'll find. There's also the agreeable climate, even if you have to dodge a few torrential downpours every now and again.

What's more, in terms of tourism infrastructure, it tends to be a bit ahead of many other regions as, for the most part, leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers haven't had such a devastating effect.
Brisas del Cauca, Marsella, Risaralda, Colombia.
Brisas del Cauca: Not just a pretty landscape ...
In this regard, when it comes to selecting coffee tours, visitors are pretty much spoilt for choice. Fincas, that is to say farms, are ten-a-coffee-bean so to put it. For the most part, to get an idea of the coffee-making process while at the same time enjoying the natural surrounds, you can't go too wrong with whichever place you choose.

Some, however, have a more commercial feel to them, lacking that genuine friendly touch that most Colombians, especially the rural folk, are famed for.

This certainly can't be said for Luis Fernando Vélez's Brisas del Cauca finca, located a short distance from the small, picturesque town of Marsella in the Risaralda department. In fact, it offers much more than a hands-on insight into Colombia's coffee culture and a breathtaking backdrop.

In many ways, in this more or less self-sustained, organic fruit and veg farm, what's on view is another way of life.

Alongside the coffee plants and cacao trees (the 'journey' from cacao pod to edible chocolate is largely similar to that of coffee; a step-by-step guide to both processes is available), Brisas del Cauca is home to avocado, bananas, honey, mandarines, oranges, passion fruit, plantain and yuca to name just a few of the natural goodies on offer.

What's more, fuelling Luis Fernando's penchant for throwing up a finca-sourced meal with a concoction of flavours, there's a host of diverse herbs growing on site.

Indeed a walk around the grounds with the affable host is akin to a green and healthy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience. Something edible comes along with practically every step. As for the herbs, Luis Fernando has the low-down on the alleged health benefits of each one. His enthusiasm for them and everything else on the farm would almost have you believe that eternal living is within grasp.

While most visitors come on day trips, there is the option for individuals or small groups to spend the night there; there's no point in rushing these things if you don't have to.

Whatever way you do it, for an understanding of the coffee-and-chocolate-making processes (check out our videos of those here) plus all the priceless little extras, Brisas del Cauca is as good as they come. Luis Fernando awaits you.

*Brisias del Cauca owner Luis Fernando Vélez can be contacted on +573116085894 or e-mail brisasdelcauca@hotmail.com. You can also find him on Facebook.
** For those not staying on the farm there are numerous accommodation options in the picturesque town of Marsella. The well-kitted out Hotel Carmen has good-quality rooms from $35.000 COP.
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