Colombia, the country of coffee, coffee plantations, Juan Valdez and his trusty mula sometimes known as Lana or on other occasions Conchita, offers a surprising dearth of options for the coffee aficionado. The reason for this is well documented all over the continent and reads like an unfortunate script. The best coffee beans are packed up and shipped off overseas for the international market.
Fortunately, this is changing, I wouldn’t say reversing, as a huge amount still travels far and wide, but Colombians are becoming more particular in their tastes.
Traditionally Colombian coffee is served in a small “tinto” size served up in a handy thermos and comes sweetened to the point of being comparable to a petroleum derivative. Fortunately, small coffee growers, owners of haciendas and of course the inimitable and enormous outfit of Juan Valdez (created by the Colombian Coffee Growers Assoc) have started to address this issue offering quality beans and roasts more palatable to the discerning coffee quaffer.
The granddaddy of all Colombian chains, Juan Valdez is synonymous with coffee in Colombia. You can now find stylish cafes all over major cities.
Opened by a German – you guessed it – grandmother back in the day, Oma is a rival to Juan Valdez and often gives the major chain a run for their money on quality.
More Italian in style, your wallet is going to be hit a little harder, but, the espressos are worth every penny. You’ll find Diletto’s in the well healed barrios of Bogota.
Onto the subject of tea. Hardly a major influence in Colombia, specialty teas may be the preferred hot drink full of antioxidants of Bogota bohemian crowd, but, there’s no doubting that it is making inroads into the national psyche. Supermarkets which in the past stocked the feeblest excuse for a teabag are now sporting shelves of options for the tea drinker. However, your best bet is to seek out the Taller de Te run by a Bogotana tea enthusiast par excellence.
Taller de Te
Located up in the thin air of above the Carrera 7, the Taller de Te or tea workshop is a true paradise for those wanting something different. Polished wooden floors greet you in addition to shelves stacked up with different varieties of tea and teapots. Out back there’s a covered garden showing clearly a rainwater recycling process making this a truly environmentally conscious experience in Bogota. Try the muffins or the almond croissants and if you are here on a cold afternoon you’ll be offered a blanket by the establishment in order to make your stay that little bit more comfortable.