Coffee is one of the first things you think about when it comes to Colombia. After all, the country is famous for having some of the best-tasting beans in the world.
As that’s the case, it’d be practically criminal to leave Medellin without trying one of these coffee-tasting tours.
While there are a number of tours out there, probably the best for coffee purists is the coffee tasting experience at the Marquee hotel. Here’s what to know about this fantastic experience.
What to Know About the Marquee’s Coffee Tasting Experience
This is an activity that, fortunately, isn’t exclusive to hotel guests. So, if you want to get a coffee tasting experience under your belt while in Medellin, you can enjoy this even if you’re staying somewhere else.
The coffee tasting workshop is run by Javier Ignacio, a professional barista with more than 6 years of experience in professional coffee brewing. He’ll guide you through the history, preparation, and consumption of good Colombian coffee.
Each variety of coffee has its own characteristics in terms of harvest, preparation, and flavor, so Javier will tell you about each of them. That way, you can really understand how and why these beans taste the way they do.
The experience lasts about an hour, and it’s pretty affordable. Just make sure to set aside enough time to fully enjoy it!
What to Expect in the Coffee Tasting Experience
The tour takes place in a private coffee bar or sometimes on the roof of the hotel. In both places, you’ll be seated around two or three small tables with bowls of coffee beans in them.
These are going to be a major part of your tasting experience.
The coffee tasting is split into an educational portion as well as a hands-on tasting portion. Here’s what else to expect from this experience.
An Introduction to Colombian Coffee
The first thing Javier will tell you before you start is to let yourself be carried away by the flavors and smells of the drink. He’ll ask you to think of the coffee as a glass of wine, which needs to age and ferment.
I didn’t really know this and thought coffee was produced pretty quickly. However, it turns out I was wrong!
From there, Javier will go over the quality standards of coffee, how to grow the plants, and key concepts such as body, aroma, fragrance, and aftertaste.
Learning About the Coffee Process
The first part of the tour begins with a talk about the process that coffee must go through so that it’s ready for you to drink. These are the steps:
- Grow the plant from seed
- The coffee grower harvests the coffee
- Prepare the coffee to dry/ferment
- Roast the coffee
- Grind the coffee
- Brew your coffee (The best part)
If you didn’t know, coffee is a fruit that grows in medium-sized bushes. At first glance, it looks like a hard red fruit very similar to a cherry. However, when you open up the fruit, you’ll find the seeds that we turn into coffee beans.
The sugars of this fruit are what help to give the characteristic sweet touch to the coffee during the growth and fermentation processes.
To ferment the coffee, many farmers leave the beans for several days on top of a tarp to dry. While there are other more modern methods, many older Colombian farmers still practice this drying technique.
However, Javier tells us that this isn’t one of the best options here in Colombia, since the tropical climate is very humid and this affects the grain. But, in dry climates such as in Ethiopia, it’s a widely used practice.
The other two ways to dry and ferment the coffee are with a machine or through a partial natural drying and partial machine drying method.
The Coffee Tasting
After learning about the coffee creation process comes the most fun part: taste, smell, and compare. First, Javier invites you to observe the great variety of coffee beans and grinds and then to smell the different beans.
If like me you find that some beans smell the same, don’t worry; professional tasters spend years testing and smelling coffee to be able to differentiate the beans from one another.
After smelling the whole beans, the host will grind a few, giving off totally different smells. This can often bring out notes you didn’t notice before!
Next, Javier will brew the coffee so that you can start tasting them. I advise you to take small sips to appreciate the flavors. Don’t fill your mouth with the coffee, but instead let yourself really take stock of what each coffee tastes like.
Javier ends the tour with a small talk about add-ins like milk and sugar that can drown out the taste of a cup of coffee. While I understand where he’s coming from, he definitely didn’t put me off my lattes and cappuccinos.
Experience the Heart and Soul of Colombian Coffee
Without a doubt, this coffee tasting is the best in Medellin. Not only is it centrally located, but you also get a real feel for what Colombian coffee is all about.
Have you already tried this tour? Do you have other coffee tastings and tours that you love? Let us know in the comments!