Part of the magic that characterizes Colombian coffee comes from its origin. The art of cultivating and processing coffee is generally a family tradition that passes from generation to generation. Every morning in the coffee farms in Colombia, the coffee-growing families select and harvest with great care the best coffee fruits for their later processing.
This is one of the reasons why Colombian coffee is one of the best quality coffees. Rather than in an industrialized process, coffee is produced in traditional coffee plantations that treat each bean as the most sacred thing.
This is why, in honor of the hard and passionate work of coffee growers, we will talk this time about the coffee farms in Colombia. We will show you how they are, through one of the most recognized in the country: Hacienda Venecia.
We had a conversation with the manager and one of its workers, in which they told us a lot about it. Below we will show you what they told us and what makes Hacienda Venecia, and the other coffee farms, such a magical place.
|Location||Vereda el Rosario, Caldas, 20 minutes from Manizales.|
|Climate||High plateau subtropical climate – warm and pleasant.|
|Temperature||17° to 24° C – 62 to 75 °F|
|Coffee varieties||Arabica: Colombia, Castillo, Gesha, Moka, Specialty.|
Hacienda Venecia is one of the most important coffee farms in the department of Caldas. It has almost 100 years of tradition and is a reference in the coffee industry due to its experience. Both in the process of planting and cultivation, as well as in the processing, roasting, exporting and commercialization of coffee.
Its privileged location with the perfect climatic conditions allows it to cultivate coffee plants of excellent quality, in addition to having one of the most beautiful coffee landscapes. The farm is surrounded not only by vast coffee fields but also by incredible biodiversity.
The manager told us that it is a family farm that has been managed for four generations. They have a long history as coffee producers, however, they also offer other services. Since 2009, they opened their doors to the public and now it is possible to stay at the hacienda, as well as do tours and related ecotourism activities. For this reason, it is one of the best-known places in the Eje Cafetero.
Coffee at Hacienda Venecia
The Hacienda is located in the department of Caldas about 10.5 km from Manizales and is part of the Coffee Axis. This region, besides being privileged for its geographical and climatic conditions, is also part of the Coffee Cultural Landscape, an area declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The hacienda is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters (4,921 ft) above sea level, has an average temperature that ranges from 17° to 24 °C (62-75 °F) and the crops are, for the most part, in open exposure. Therefore, it has the perfect climate to cultivate and harvest coffee of excellent quality.
Regarding the coffee cultivation process, the Hacienda has seedbeds, nurseries and the field for planting. If you want to know more about how these crops are cultivated, take a look at our blog about coffee growing in Colombia.
Of the existing varieties of coffee in the world, Colombia cultivates only the Arabica variety. This is known not only for its delicious and smooth flavor but also for being the highest quality.
At Hacienda Venecia several types of Arabica are grown. Most of the production is of the Colombia and Castillo varieties. However, in recent years, they have also been experimenting with new, more exotic Ethiopian and specialty varieties. These beans, besides being of high quality, also have different and very special flavors and aromas. Other varieties that are grown, but in smaller quantities, are Gesha and Moka.
Let’s learn more about them:
Colombia and Castillo
Both varieties were developed in Colombia by Cenicafé. To obtain them, a cross was made between the Caturra variety (susceptible to rust) and the Timor Hybrid (very resistant to rust). They were born with the objective of having coffee crops that were not only of high quality and excellent flavor but also more resistant to diseases and pests.
Their cup quality is very similar and homogeneous. They are characterized by their bitterness and smooth body. In addition to having a pronounced aroma and acidity when they have a medium roast level.
Mocha or Mokka
It is originally from Yemen. Its name comes from the most important exporting port of that country called Mocha. It is known for its chocolate notes, with hints of cardamom, cinnamon, sweet spices and even hints of fruit.
Gesha or Geisha
It originates from a town in Ethiopia called Gesha, however, the most important and currently known is from Panama. The Gesha from Panama appeared on the world scene in 2005 after this variety entered the “Best of Panama” auction, where it had the best ratings and was sold for a record price.
Its flavor is one of the most peculiar since it is known for its tea notes, great sweetness, bright and clean taste, and aromas of jasmine, bergamot, orange blossom, among others.
The farm also commercializes its own coffee through 3 lines: Institutional Line, Golden Line and its own Hacienda Venecia Origin Coffee. These beans are Excelso, that is to say, they comply with the characteristics required to be exported. In the case of the hacienda, the main importing countries are Canada, the United States, and Japan.
The coffee produced stands out for being balanced, smooth, with citric notes, good body, and soft or intense aromas.
Other activities at Hacienda Venecia
Nowadays, coffee plantations are not exclusively dedicated to the cultivation, production and commercialization of coffee beans. Many have opened their doors and have created a series of services and special activities for all types of public.
An example of this is the possibility of taking a guided tour of the haciendas. In these tours, people learn about the coffee plantations, the process of planting, harvesting, roasting, and even the grinding and preparation of the coffee. This wonderful experience allows them to taste the beans first hand and learn more about the process behind the cup.
Hacienda Venecia offers this type of tour to its visitors and guests. They last approximately 2 to 3 hours and are available in English or Spanish. Here, people learn about the origin, history, and worldwide distribution of coffee. In addition to touring the coffee plantations, visitors learn about the production process and experience the flavor and aroma of the beans at different roasting levels.
It is also very common to see that these haciendas offer to the public different workshops related to coffee and other products that are also grown there. Hacienda Venecia offers artisan workshops on chocolate, coffee and barista preparations, rum making, and banana recipes.
A family tradition
Colombia has a coffee culture that goes back many years. It is also one of the more important activities for sustaining thousands of Colombians. Therefore, it has always been considered a family tradition that often passes from generation to generation. Thanks to this, coffee farms stand out for offering a family environment like no other.
This family environment is manifested in coffee farms in many ways. We can even see it in the way the house is decorated and furnished. It is typical to find several common areas in which to share with the family around a good cup of coffee. Or in which to rest after a long day of work in the coffee plantations.
Another way in which coffee farms offer this experience is through food. Many of them give visitors the opportunity to taste and delight themselves with typical dishes of the region.
In the case of the Hacienda Venecia, not only its facilities show the family atmosphere, but also several of its services. One of these is the possibility of tasting several typical dishes of the region.
To start the day, besides waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, you can have a traditional breakfast. There is something for everyone, from those who like bread with a side dish to those who prefer cereal.
Afterward, both for lunch and dinner, the local workers of the farm lovingly prepare typical delicacies such as Bandeja paisa, beans, Sancocho, Ajiaco, etc. It is also possible to adapt these dishes in case there is a specific dietary need.
Biodiversity on the farm
If there is something that characterizes coffee farms it is their great biodiversity. Being located in rural areas, they are always framed by beautiful mountains and landscapes.
Hacienda Venecia, besides having charming coffee plantations, is surrounded by beautiful native trees and crystalline streams. It is a faithful representation of an Andean tropical forest. Thanks to this diversity of landscapes, there is not only a great variety of flora but also of fauna. That is why you can find around 226 species of birds.
The hacienda also offers the possibility of free self-guided birdwatching tours. They even lend the necessary equipment such as binoculars and information about the area. They also have bilingual guides, however, the tours with them do have a cost.
Some of the birds that can be seen are:
- Blue Tanagers
On the other hand, if you want to explore the area, you can go hiking. The hacienda also offers its visitors the option of exploring several routes, with different levels of difficulty. In both cases, there will be a green landscape full of beautiful vegetation, birds, butterflies, and more species of animals.
Another outstanding activity that can be done in the nature surrounding the hacienda is horseback riding. The hacienda offers a horseback ride of 1.5 to 2 hours through the coffee-growing landscape, accompanied by local guides.
What is the architecture of a coffee farm in Colombia like?
One of the aspects that make coffee farms most special is their beautiful and distinctive architecture. Since colonial times, these farms have maintained a very characteristic style that distinguishes them from other types of haciendas. In almost all the coffee regions of the country, we can see the same type of architecture.
This type of house has a clear Hispanic influence, derived from the time of the conquest and the colony. The characteristic construction material of this type of housing is Guadua, a variety of bamboo. This is mainly used for the structure of the house, combined with clay tiles for the roof.
The distribution of these houses is very simple. They are generally linear and elongated, or L-shaped. They can have 1 or 2 floors, have long corridors on 1 or more sides of the house and the rooms are connected and aligned with each other. They usually have cobbled interior patios, gardens, and exterior railings of Guadua in the corridors, very similar to a balcony.
A distinctive feature of the coffee farmhouses is their colorful decoration and beautiful ornamentation. In the facades as well as in the interior, the use of wood for doors, windows, balconies, etc. stands out. The latter are usually adorned with beautiful pots with flowers and different plants.
Almost always, the white color of the house contrasts with the wooden parts that have been painted in some color such as red, orange, or green. The floors can be wood, brick, or ornate tiles.
This style of housing is typical and is mostly attributed to the department of Antioquia. The reason why the coffee-growing areas of the country, especially the Coffee Axis, have the same architecture is because of the Antioquian colonization.
During the beginning of the Spanish conquest, Antioquia was one of the least populated and isolated areas of the country. With the exception of gold, they had basically no commercial products and agriculture was almost nonexistent. Therefore, as gold mining declined at the end of the 16th century, many inhabitants were forced to migrate to other regions.
They traveled to the south of the country and settled in lands that today are part of Quindío, Tolima, and Valle del Cauca. Finally, as a new economic activity, they began to plant and produce coffee. Later on, coffee became one of the most important export products of the country and the coffee plantations expanded throughout these and other regions.
Hacienda Venecia is no exception.
Facilities at Hacienda Venecia
Besides being dedicated to the cultivation of coffee, it also allows the stay of tourists. It has 4 main facilities: the Main House, the Coffee Lodge, the Hostel, and an Overlanders site. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
This house is one of the most representative of the typical coffee house. It is surrounded by beautiful vegetation, birds and flowers. It has beautiful balconies adorned with flowers, rest areas, and long corridors from which you can see the colorful landscape.
As is common in this type of house, it is built in guadua, has clay walls and tiles of the same material on the roof. It is painted white so that it contrasts with the red color of the wood of the balconies, doors, and windows. It also has a beautiful garden full of diverse flowers, plants and birds, and a swimming pool. Next to it, there is a kiosk built in guadua and walnut wood.
On the other hand, it has 6 bedrooms, 3 of which have their own bathroom and the others share 2 fully equipped bathrooms. Its interior is also a reflection of the typical beauty of these constructions. The beautiful wood is in the doors, windows, bedside tables and closets. They are decorated with photos, vintage bookshelves, and beds with bronze parts.
It is very similar to the main house, however, this one combines both traditional and modern architectural details. It is located on one of the slopes of the farm, therefore, it offers a beautiful panoramic view of the coffee plantations and the landscape of the region.
It has several common areas perfect for all kinds of activities. It has beautiful living rooms, perfect for lounging in comfortable chairs or in the traditional hammocks, having a coffee, spending time with family and friends, or simply relaxing. In addition, there is an “honesty bar” where you can enjoy delicious coffee, other drinks and snacks.
On the other hand, it has 11 rooms, all but one of which have private bathrooms. Each has its own private balcony, perfect for relaxing, admiring the scenery, reading a book or having a coffee. They have 3 types of rooms: twin, double or twin, and triple. Like the main house, the rooms also have a typical decoration.
This is a place to share. It offers the option to stay in private or shared rooms. Areas such as the kitchen, dining room, bathrooms and showers are shared and fully equipped.
It is even possible to take oranges or tangerines directly from the trees in front of the hostel and prepare a delicious fresh juice in the mornings. In addition, there is a mini-shop where you can find basic ingredients, but you can also bring your own. There is even a space for campfires. In the garden, you can play board games, read a book or play sports.
Its architecture and decoration feature still very traditional coffee style. It also has an area to rest in hammocks and is surrounded by trails and beautiful landscapes.
This space was designed for travelers and drivers to rest and relax after a long day of travel. It is the perfect place to recharge your batteries and get on the road.
It includes breakfast and you can use the common areas of the hostel such as the kitchen and dining room. For lunch or dinner there are two options: make use of the mini-market or make reservations at the Coffee Lodge. You can also relax in the kiosk or in the hammocks distributed throughout the place.
Social and environmental responsibility
Nowadays, the process behind the product is as important as its final result. It is no different in the case of coffee. Consumers are not only interested in its quality and flavor, but also in the conditions in which it was cultivated and the commitment of the producing farms.
For this reason, there are some organizations, both national and international, that certify coffee farms for different criteria.
The most well-known certifications in the case of coffee are Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, and 4C Standard. These 3 recognize and certify that the coffee was cultivated in sustainable farms, that is to say, that they have an environmental, social, and economic commitment.
This means that the farms with these seals have good agricultural practices that do not negatively affect the environment. They also demonstrate their social commitment as coffee growers. This implies being aware of the role they play in the communities in which they operate in order to generate value. In other words, helping the population and contributing to their social and economic development through the production of coffee.
The fact that a coffee plantation has one or more of these seals also reflects the quality of the coffee. The fact that it has good agricultural practices is already synonymous with well cultivated, harvested, and produced coffee.
What certifications does Hacienda Venecia have?
Hacienda Venecia is certified with the UTZ label. Therefore, it is a coffee farm that employs the best cultivation practices, does not negatively impact the environment, and has a social commitment.
Its export coffee is also certified by the National Federation of Coffee Growers. This means that it is a product that is periodically monitored and approved through strict quality controls.
One of its environmental projects is related to beekeeping. The farm has 12 hives of “angelita” bees (Tetragonisca angustula) distributed throughout the farm. This is a stingless bee species found in tropical regions.
Their function is to contribute to a healthy local ecosystem, where they can live, conserve their species and benefit production. They reinforce the pollination of coffee trees (although these are self-pollinating) so that they produce up to 25% more fruit.
Hacienda Venecia’s social commitment
On the other hand, the hacienda has a strong social commitment. They generate employment and growth opportunities for the inhabitants of the area. In this way, the importance of the local actors and neighbors of the region in the coffee process is highlighted. In addition, they are also supplied with products from nearby farms, as is the case of the eggs used on the farm.
Another project that reflects their responsibility is their support for the local elementary school. They invite biology students from the University of Caldas to teach the children and introduce them to the wonderful world of bird watching. The goal is not only for them to learn much more about birds, but also to awaken an early interest in nature and its care.
Coffee Tradition in Colombia
The cup of coffee that we drink in the morning comes from a very special place in which it was cared for by the hands of many coffee-growing families. The magic of the coffee farms lies in their tradition, their beautiful architecture, their commitment to society and the environment, and of course, their passion for cultivating the best coffee.
These types of farms have great importance in Colombian culture for various reasons. This is where the excellent quality coffee that positions us as the third largest coffee producer in the world comes from. In addition, they contribute to the enrichment of our cultural heritage and identity as a country.
Therefore, we hope that after this look at Colombian coffee farms, specifically Hacienda Venecia, you have learned about what makes them so special.