There are a few things synonymous with the Coffee Triangle in Colombia:
Cool, humid air and dramatic skies as an impending storm thunders in the distance. The clop clop of horse hooves on cobblestone streets. The bright hues of the painted porches of elegant, historic buildings.
And of course, the complex, earthy, wide-eyed aroma of a potent cup of fresh coffee.
The coffee triangle in Colombia is one of the most naturally beautiful and culturally intriguing areas of the country and it’s a bucket-list destination for coffee fans around the world.
However, although this part of Colombia is worth visiting for the superior wake-up-juice alone, there’s also plenty more to enjoy here. You can go horseback riding through a rain forest, dine on trout from the nearby river, visit local farms and so much more.
What is the Coffee Triangle?
The coffee triangle in Colombia refers to three departments of one region – Risaralda, Quindio and Caldas. The origins of coffee cultivation here date back to the mid 19th century and coffee quickly became one of the most successful (and profitable!) crops for the local farmers. (After all, who doesn’t love coffee?)
The conditions here are ideal for growing excellent coffee beans – consistent temperatures, rain throughout the year and rich, volcanic soil.
Word got out about how high quality and delicious the coffee in this region was – and all three of these departments were producing coffee for export by the beginning of the 20th century. These days, most of the coffee produced in Colombia comes from this region and it’s even been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city of Medellin is considered the gateway to the Coffee Triangle in Colombia and from there you can head to the main cities of these three departments – Manizales, Armenia and Pereira. The cheapest option is to take one of the local buses, although they can take a while. It’s also possible to hire a local taxi – which will be more expensive but also more convenient.
However, keep going past the larger cities and head instead to the little towns and villages. Small towns such as Quinchia and Salento are more picturesque and relaxing and will give you a real sense of the culture of the region.
What to Bring
The temperatures are quite a bit cooler in this region – it will usually be around 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) in the day and it can go down to 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 degrees Fahrenheit) at night.
(After all, it’s the consistent rain throughout the year that really makes the coffee plants
So, pack a jacket and some long pants for the evenings. Dress in layers and carry an umbrella – you never know what the weather will do. Comfortable walking shoes are a must – so you can enjoy the many great hiking trails (and get around on the cobbled streets.) Also, don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen!
Things to Do
Once you have fueled up on Colombian coffee and you are full of energy – here are some of the fun activities that you can look forward to:
Horseback Riding in the Valle de Cocora
The impossibly tall palm trees towering above these lush rainforests make the landscape look surreal and a bit magical. Local outfitters provide horse-riding adventures that will take you along steep dirt tracks through the spectacular valley.
Take a Coffee Finca Tour
There are many coffee plantations in this region and from the main cities you’ll have several chances to visit these farms and see for yourself how coffee is grown. You’ll learn about how the coffee beans are grown and harvested and you can even watch them being ground and roasted to perfection. Nearly all of the tours will include a coffee tasting – so you can sample a fresh brew made with beans grown on site.
Ziplining in Montenegro
Imagine flying on a zipline, overtop lush green fields of coffee plants. That’s what you can do in Montenegro at El Bosque del Saman. It’s just one of the exciting activities offered at the hotel complex.
Visiting the Colombian National Coffee Park
Celebrate the love of caffeine at the Colombian National Coffee Park – located in the Quindio department between the small villages of Montenegro and Armenia. It has everything from a coffee museum to theater shows about the history of coffee and a theme park.
Hiking Up Cerro Ingruma
If you feel energized enough for a hike, the climb to the peak of Cerro Ingruma is an invigorating 2km climb that will reward you with stunning vistas of the surrounding country. The trail is well-marked and pretty easy to follow, but make sure you wear sturdy shoes as the terrain is quite rocky.
Touring Brisas de Cauca
Had enough coffee and in the mood for a little chocolate instead? Brisas de Cauca is an organic cocoa farm located only 10 km away from the small town of Marsella. You can take a guided tour that will explain the production process of the cocoa beans from start to finished product (plus a delicious tasting!)
Did you know that Colombia is home to more species of birds than any other country on earth? It has nearly 20% of bird species in the world! This part of Colombia is popular with bird lovers, as it has some of the country’s most diverse bird reserves. If you head to Cerro Montezuma you might even be able to spot the extremely rare gold-ringed tanager.
Any questions about the Coffee Triangle in Colombia?
There’s so much more to see and do in this region, so if you have any other questions please let me know in the comments below!