Enjoying a Colombian Coffee Baptism
PHOTO: Coffee baptism. (Photo by Janeen Christoff)
If you love coffee, you are not going to want to miss a coffee baptism on a visit to Colombia. Created by award-winning coffee grower Hacienda San Alberto, the experience is akin to wine tasting in France and visitors learn everything they need to become a certified “ambassador of Café San Alberto,” from bean selection to various brewing methods.
San Alberto is a progressive coffee plantation and is frequently awarded for its outstanding flavors. It is one of 500,000-plus Arabica coffee growers in Colombia. The company is dedicated to serving some of the highest quality coffee in the country and dedicated to helping consumers appreciate a high-quality cup. The best way to do that is through its signature coffee baptism.
First, you begin by learning about the various growth stages of the coffee plant and the delicate and timely process that is required to harvest the plants, which are picked by hand at San Alberto. Guests have the chance to feel the coffee beans in various stages of production.
Next, the group learns about the various aromas of the coffee varieties. There are several distinct groups: fruity, roasted, herbal, spicy, floral, animalic, woody and chemical. We were presented with several vials to smell and had to identify which group we thought each scent belonged to using one nostril and then the other to get the true “depth” of the scent. After we identified the scents, we learned to use the coffee flavor wheel to identify good and bad flavors and aromas found in coffee.
We then moved on to brewing, learning that the method used to brew coffee can bring out the various flavors inside the bean. We learned that brewing the bean in the wrong way can make an otherwise good coffee taste terrible and tested the theory out brewing the same type of bean in three different ways: gravity (drip), vacuum (syphon) and infusion (coffee press).
Once we had studied up on the various correct ways to prepare the coffee and the various brewing methods, we were considered "baptized" and had the chance to taste a variety of different flavors. Tasting is done in a similar manner as wine, in small amounts and allowing the flavors to settle over your taste buds.
The experience finishes with the presentation of our certificates as official coffee ambassadors to San Alberto.
Our coffee baptism took place at the Gold Museum in Bogota at San Alberto’s downstairs café but is also available in Cartegena and at their two haciendas in Buenavista and Quindio.
For an even more in-depth experience, it’s possible to visit the haciendas for premium coffee sampling and tasting tours that include seeing the crops and the processes by which the beans are harvested as well as a tasting experience.
Visitors who don't opt for the coffee baptism or the tasting tour can get their fix at cafes located in Cartegena, Bogota and Terazza San Alberto and serve fresh San Alberto coffee brewed by your method of choice.
For more information, visit San Alberto.
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