The Coffee Region of Colombia often referred to as the Coffee Triangle or locally as the Eje Cafetero is one of the most beautiful areas of Colombia and South America. Make the journey to the source of your morning cup of coffee by visiting the Coffee Triangle which in 2011 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The soul and attraction of visiting the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia is perfectly encapsulated by UNESCO as:
“An exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape that is unique and representative of a tradition that is a strong symbol for coffee growing areas worldwide.”
Exploring family-run coffee plantations, staying at gorgeous colonial-style fincas (coffee farms) and relaxing surrounded by the region’s lush rolling hills makes Colombia’s Coffee Triangle a highlight destination in South America. From when to go, how to get there and what to do, here is your complete guide to visiting the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
♦ Where is the Coffee Triangle?
The Coffee Triangle is traditionally made up of the three small departments of Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda. When UNESCO classified the area as a World Heritage site, they also included the Valle del Cauca in their definition.
The Coffee Region is situated at the western end of the Andes Mountains and the region has become famous for its coffee production, steep sloped valleys and historic architecture.
Coffee production began in the east of Colombia and was brought to the Caldas district in the mid-19th Century. Due to the quality of the coffee and the amount that was being produced in Caldas, this world famous coffee cultivation spread to nearby districts of Quindío and Risaralda. By the 20th Century, both Quindío and Risaralda were producing coffee for export to the rest of the world and together these three areas put both Colombia and the Coffee Triangle on the map.
♦ Traveling to Colombia’s Coffee Region
Although Armenia is the capital of the Quindío department it still maintains a big town feel with a slower-paced lifestyle than the other main centers of the Coffee Region, Manizales and Pereira. As a more relaxing destination, we recommend our travelers fly to the city of Armenia to then go to their finca in the countryside. Armenia’s El Eden International Airport, is also one of the best served in the region with 2 weekly non-stop flights from Fort Lauderdale with Spirit Airlines.
The non-stop flight time from Miami is only about 3hrs 30mins meaning you could be sipping a fresh cup of Joe in the world’s best coffee producing region sooner than you think!
Alternatively, you can take a non-stop international flight from most major cities in the United States, Europe and Latin America to the capital city of Bogota before taking a connecting flight to Armenia.
♦ The best time to go to the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia
Along with the rich and fertile volcanic soil of the Coffee Triangle, one of the main reasons for the success of coffee production in the area is down to its climate. The consistently warm temperatures and precipitation throughout the year make for perfect conditions to cultivate coffee plants. Colombia’s Coffee Region has a very humid climate and it rains almost every month due to its tropical rainforest climate. The quantity of rain varies with March, April, May, September, October and November being the rainiest months.
Average temperatures vary little throughout the year making deciding what to pack when traveling to the Coffee Region that much easier.
We recommend light clothing that will help you deal with the high humidity levels as well as a sweater and light jacket for the cooler evenings. To save on suitcase space, and depending on your other travel destinations an umbrella rather than a rain jacket may come in use as well as ensuring you are comfortable with the average humidity levels of 81%. If you are looking to avoid the refreshing and short downpours, July is the driest and warmest month to travel to the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
♦ The highlights of Colombia’s Coffee Triangle
The obvious main highlight of the Coffee Triangle is of course the coffee. In the same way that you can visit the wineries of Mendoza in Argentina, many of the working coffee farms welcome visitors onto their plantations to learn more about their Arabica coffee-growing process. With the farmers in the area growing, harvesting and processing the coffee all by hand visiting the Coffee Region during the harvest season is particularly special. The main harvest takes place between September and December with a secondary harvest known as ‘mitaca’ taking place from April to May.
Due to the varied terrain, micro-climates and processing styles, each region of the Coffee Triangle has its own unique flavor allowing you to become coffee connoisseurs in no time at all.
However, this region is so much more than just the coffee farms and you will be left glued to the spot in admiration as you stare out across the green patchwork for as far as the eye can see in the Valle de Cocora. Tucked between the rugged Andean peaks, the Cocora Valley is like a scene from a Dr. Seuss book with the ever-present Wax Palms rising 200ft. up into the air adding to this surreal landscape. With Colombia’s 1800 species of birds, of which 74 are endemic, the Coffee Region is a birding paradise, where you will be able to spot hummingbirds, woodpeckers, toucans and eagles among many others. From horseback riding and hiking through this draw-dropping scenery to traveling through the valley to the small, charming colonial town of Salento in the back of a colorful Willy Jeep taxi; the Coffee Triangle is an inspiring and spectacular region to explore.