Sam's first trip to Finca El Paraiso

When Jo asked me if I'd join him in this years trip to see Jose out in Colombia, I had expectations of 30 degree heat sipping on Corona's under banana trees. It was only a few days before when I looked at the forecast I realised I had to pack a rain jacket, and that it was actually hotter in Bristol than the mountains of Narino (until the sun came out). When we landed in Pasto, we were picked up by Jose in his new truck and driven to his new house to have lunch with his family. The views, 360 degrees, were spectacular. The most amazing mountain ranges with incredibly dense jungle & a volcano which we never saw the peak of because of the cloud covered top.

First thing I noticed, and kept being wondered by, is all the dogs. And not wild "look like they'll bite your hand off" dogs. Healthy looking innocent fluffy pups roaming the streets, everywhere. I had to quickly learn not to stroke every one that walked passed or sat with me, but luckily Jose (and every other farmer) has two of his own I could safely play with on the farm. 

Jose's family were amazing, and even with my lack of Spanish, I felt so welcome & looked after from the minute we arrived. And by the end of the four day trip, felt like I'd made friends I would miss upon returning to Bristol. And this is a trend that kept repeating itself with everyone we met. The Colombian people are amazing, so hospitable, and have a zest for life (and dancing) that we Bristolians could learn a thing or two from.

Of all the amazing farms we visited, one thing kept coming up in my mind. These were some of the best coffee farms in Colombia, and yet they had to constantly deal with difficulties in their surrounding infrastructure. Amelio Santacruz, who we buy our "house filter" coffee from, grows 10,000 kilos of speciality coffee every year. And yet, he still has to collect rain water for basic facilities in his house because the supply from the local town won't cover it. The local lab in Buesaco where they test & grade all the speciality lots from local farms also struggle with this when wanting to do regular cuppings. One of the main highway bridges had collapsed, leading all traffic down the same thin dirt road and causing major disruption to the local towns. These are just a few examples, and still Jose and his collaborative are able to produce incredible coffee despite hurdles they have to leap over, and they're continually striving for better.


We tasted incredible coffees, met incredible people, and ate a lot of plantain. My only wish is that we could have stayed longer, but even though it felt like time away visiting friends, we were there to work & the work was done. Now I have a good reason to learn Spanish ready for next years visit.