Ethiopia to Colombia: A Coffee Lover’s Travel Diary

Prelude: The Dream Journey of a Coffee Enthusiast

As a devout coffee enthusiast, I have always been captivated by the mystique of this universal brew. Its aroma, taste, and invigorating power have been my daily solace. But my love for coffee extends beyond the confines of my morning mug. I yearn to explore its origins, understand its cultivation, and witness firsthand the passion that goes into creating each cup. That’s why I’ve envisioned a dream journey, an exploration of the coffee culture in two of the most renowned coffee-producing countries in the world: Ethiopia and Colombia. It’s a journey that will take me from the birthplace of coffee, steeped in ancient tradition, to a nation that has transformed coffee cultivation into a fine art. This diary reflects that dream journey, a pilgrimage I hope to undertake, tracing the path of coffee from bean to cup.

Entry 1: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Arrival and The Birthplace of Coffee

My journey begins in Ethiopia, considered the birthplace of coffee. My first stop was Addis Ababa, the country’s capital, where I discovered the deep-rooted coffee culture. I visited the National Museum of Ethiopia, where I gained a greater understanding of the country’s rich history and, of course, its deep connection to coffee. I explored a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony – a time-honored tradition that’s as much about community as it is about the drink itself.


Entry 2: Sidamo, Ethiopia – Coffee Farms and Forests

Travelling south, I journeyed to Sidamo, home to some of the best coffee in the world. I walked through lush coffee forests and witnessed how coffee grows in its natural habitat. I observed coffee beans being harvested by skilled farmers who taught me the process from bean to cup. The local coffee, known for its light body and complex flavor profile, was unlike any I’ve tasted before.


Entry 3: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia – A Coffee Connoisseur’s Dream

Next, I arrived in Yirgacheffe, a region known for producing some of the world’s most distinctive coffees. The hand-picked beans here are washed and sun-dried, giving them a unique, fruity flavor profile. Savoring a cup of Yirgacheffe coffee, with its bright acidity and tea-like characteristics, was a truly unforgettable experience.


Entry 4: Departing Ethiopia – The Cradle of Coffee

Before departing Ethiopia, I had the chance to partake in one more traditional coffee ceremony. The feeling of unity and warmth in these gatherings was truly inspiring. The coffee, always served black, tasted even more wonderful, perhaps owing to the rich culture and tradition infused into each cup.


Entry 5: Bogotá, Colombia – New Terrain, Familiar Aroma

Arriving in Bogotá, Colombia, I could feel the shift in culture, yet the love for coffee was just as deep. Colombia’s rich volcanic soil, altitude, and climate make it a perfect landscape for coffee growing. I visited the famous Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learned about the country’s history and deep connection to coffee production.


Entry 6: Salento, Colombia – Into the Coffee Triangle

Salento, part of Colombia’s famed Coffee Triangle, was my next stop. Here, amidst lush coffee plantations, I learned about the production process of Colombian coffee, which is typically washed, giving it a clean taste and bright acidity. The fresh brew, paired with breathtaking views of the Andean landscape, was simply exquisite.


Entry 7: Medellín, Colombia – A Taste of Innovation

In Medellín, I witnessed how the city has innovatively integrated its coffee culture into modern cafes, pushing the boundaries of brewing methods and presentations. The diverse selection of coffee, from single-origin varieties to blends, was both inspiring and overwhelming. The vibrant city life, coupled with its rich coffee culture, made my visit to Medellín a thrilling experience.


Entry 8: Farewell, Colombia – A Journey Through the World of Coffee

As I leave Colombia, I can’t help but reflect on this incredible journey. From Ethiopia, where coffee has its roots, to Colombia, where coffee production has been refined into an art form, it has been a voyage of discovery. The aroma, taste, and ritual of coffee have shown me the profound impact this humble bean has on communities around the world.


Every coffee lover should make this journey… I’m sure our paths would cross along the way. If not, we can send a postcard.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.

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What Fair Trade, Single Origin, and Shade Grown Really Mean

When you’re browsing the coffee aisle or looking at coffee options online, you’ll often see terms like “Fair Trade,” “Single Origin,” and “Shade Grown” on the packaging. These labels are not just marketing buzzwords; they provide important information about the coffee’s quality, flavor, and how it was produced. Understanding these terms can help you make informed choices about the coffee you buy, both in terms of taste and in terms of the impact your purchase has on the environment and the communities that produced it. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these terms means.

Fair Trade: This is a certification that focuses on promoting equitable trade practices. The goal of Fair Trade is to ensure that farmers and laborers in developing countries are paid a fair price for their work and have decent working conditions. By buying Fair Trade coffee, you are supporting sustainable farming practices and contributing to the welfare of these communities.

Single Origin: Single Origin coffee is sourced from one single producer, crop, or region in one country. Single Origin can be a single farm, multiple farms from the same region, or even a single country. This term is used to indicate that the coffee beans have a specific taste or flavor profile that is unique to their specific location and conditions in which they were grown.

Shade Grown: This term refers to coffee that is grown under a canopy of trees. The method is a more traditional approach to coffee farming that promotes a more sustainable ecosystem. Shade grown coffee supports greater biodiversity, as the trees and plants provide habitat for a wide variety of birds and insects. It also typically requires fewer chemical inputs like pesticides, since the diverse ecosystem can better keep pests in check. Shade grown coffee plants also grow slower, which is thought to contribute to a richer flavor profile.

These labels can provide a lot of information about the coffee you’re drinking, but it’s also important to remember that they are voluntary certifications and claims. They can sometimes be subject to differing standards and enforcement practices. For the most accurate and detailed information, it can be helpful to do some research into the specific coffee brand or farm.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.

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The Controversy of the Flat White Silky Coffee

There’s always been a certain rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, even when it comes to the origin of the controversial, silky coffee drink known as the flat white. Both countries claim to have created this fine brew, and while we might not be able to settle that debate, we can certainly delve into the rich history of this beloved beverage.

The Birth of the Flat White

The flat white’s history is a bit hazy, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming it as their invention. The term first appeared in Australia around the mid-1980s. The story goes that Alan Preston moved from Sydney to Queensland in 1985 and started a coffee shop named Moors Espresso Bar. Preston claims he invented the term “flat white” as a way to simplify the coffee menu. He wanted a term that would encapsulate the idea of a milky coffee without the froth and foam associated with a cappuccino.

On the other hand, New Zealand’s claim lies with Fraser McInnes, a barista at a well-known Wellington coffee shop named DKD Cafe. In 1989, McInnes claims he inadvertently created the flat white when the milk for a cappino failed to froth correctly. He served the drink anyway, and it became popular as a new style of coffee.

What Makes a Flat White?

A flat white is essentially an espresso-based coffee drink that contains a similar amount of coffee but less milk than a latte, and less foam than a cappuccino. A flat white is typically served in a smaller ceramic cup and features a higher ratio of coffee to milk, allowing the espresso’s flavor to shine through.

The secret of a great flat white lies in the steaming of the milk. The milk is steamed to create microfoam, which is velvety and smooth, creating a rich, creamy texture when poured over the espresso. The result is a beautifully balanced coffee drink where the espresso and milk complement each other rather than one overwhelming the other.

The Rise of the Flat White

The flat white remained a Down Under secret for many years, with only the most discerning international coffee lovers knowing of its existence. That began to change in the 2000s, as Antipodean coffee culture started spreading worldwide, especially in the UK and the USA.

The flat white started gaining recognition internationally in the late 2000s and early 2010s when big-name coffee chains began introducing it to their menus. In 2010, Starbucks started selling the flat white in their Australian stores before launching it in the USA and UK in 2015. This boosted the flat white’s popularity, and it soon became a staple on coffee menus worldwide.

The Legacy of the Flat White

Today, the flat white is a globally recognized coffee beverage. It’s the pride of Antipodean coffee culture and a testament to the influence of Australian and New Zealand coffee techniques worldwide.

In the end, whether the flat white was born in Australia or New Zealand might not matter as much as what it represents: a commitment to quality, an appreciation for balance, and a love for coffee that transcends borders. This creamy, smooth coffee drink has become a gift to coffee lovers around the world, and for that, we have our friends in the Southern Hemisphere to thank.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.

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