Savouring The Flavour Of Colombia

Should Juan Pablo Villota be known as Juan the Baptist?

Just possibly, given the Colombian coffee producer oversees “coffee baptisms” and his missions in life include familiarizing people outside Colombia with both Colombian coffee and the accompanying culture.

Villota — part of a third generation of coffee growers — runs Hacienda San Alberto, a coffee plantation in the interior Colombian community of Buenavista, which welcomes the growing number of foreign tourists visiting Colombia who are intrigued by its coffee production.

And Villota — whose coffee has won international awards — offers the baptisms that include kits that provide certificates declaring that those who undergo the ritual are ambassadors for his Cafe San Alberto brand.

“Around coffee, many good things in history have come,” Villota said during a Feb. 25 virtual ceremony hosted by Colombian tourism board ProColombia for the Canadian travel industry.

The kits Cafe San Alberto provides includes a” diary” that details the lengthy coffee production process that begins with the cultivation of coffee beans and and ultimately ends with a cup of Joe;  three different bags of San Alberto brand coffee; cups; a measuring spoon; “smelling cards”; and a “mystery envelope” marked Secret that contains the certificate declaring that the holder is now a San Alberto diplomat of sorts.

It’s common for coffee plantations in Colombia to host visitors now and coffee is thoroughly ingrained into the country’s culture, with Villota reporting that some 500,000 families are now involved in Colombia’s coffee trade.

Colombia’s coffee culture was officially recognized by UNESCO in 2011.

Villota, sporting a San Alberto apron and at times holding coffee beans in one of his hands while offering viewers such insights as the difference between coffee “fragrance” (the scent coffee produces when dry) and “aroma” (what coffee smells like after water has been added) during his presentation, praised the coffee produced in his homeland, saying the harvesting of coffee beans by hand rather than the machinery used in some other countries produces a better product.

Coffee aficionados living outside Colombia can be assured that when they purchase Colombian coffee in their homelands they will get the best the country produces, with those involved in the trade determined to impress their clients..

Villota added that he’s confident that those who undertook San Alberto’s coffee baptisms will serve his homeland well.

“From now on you will help to spread the coffee culture,” he confidently stated.