Coffee Origins and farms in Origin Countries by Fabrizio Sencion

Jul 31, 2018

Travelling gives us the opportunity to better value our own cultures, traditions and norms. This is why I love what I do. Coffee has brought incredible joy to my life and has made me discover so many different faces, and interesting flavours, from incredible wild varieties to fancy terroirs.

The complexity of coffee gets more and more fascinating the closest you get to the origin. The main actor in the seed to cup chain is the producer, the farmer, the person on the field taking care of every single ripe coffee cherry, this process should be known and appreciated with the same regard that wine producers or tequila maestro have.

For any coffee lover, traveling to an origin country and to see coffee being grown can be both an extremely exciting experience. Here are a few tips to enjoy your adventure at its fullest.

In my experience it is more about what you bring in spirit than what you bring along in your suitcase, going there with a positive attitude and open mind is a good starting point.

Bring your own stash of coffee, just some to give away to people you meet along the way and some to keep yourself going. You might think that origin is a place where roasted coffee flows freely, but origin is more about green than any other colour. It is very rare to be able to find a sample roaster or cupping lab at origin, so bring your gear. Manual grinder, scale, cupping spoon, your favourite brewing method, or the ones that are most functional on the way.

Be humble and flexible, as you might know, origin counties have some language barriers, lack of infrastructure, extremely poor neighbourhoods. Not to mention the lack of electricity, or if you are lucky enough to have some, it is extremely unstable.

The idea is to foster stronger relationships with the producers, so feel free to ask any questions, they will be happy to talk about any detail, for them it is a privilege to assist you. If you are visiting during that period, it is really the best time to catch every detail of the environment from ripe cherries to hand pulp and drying patios. But be flexible towards any unprecedented situation that could arise at any given time. Farmers take pride in their coffee, but might not actually drink it, having a fresh cup with a farmer while overlooking their fields or talking about football is really what makes me happy.

First rule of visiting a plantation is don’t say no. At an origin country there are some wild and “strange” flavours, food or fruits you never expected to eat or drink. Most of them are extremely delicious and full of traceability, give it a try. It could be seen as a lack of respect to not try something that it’s been offered with such passion and pureness of heart. If you are picky add a few of your favourites snacks and booze to your backpack, it’s always a delightful moment to enjoy a good drink under the stars on the highest peak of the mountain.

The outdoors is unexpected. The weather is also unpredictable, it’s ever changing and hard to anticipate. So, bring proper boots, rain coats, sun glasses, a hat for the sun, small knife and even a flashlight that might help you find the way during the night.

Extra things that you might want to keep in mind are small accessories that might be useful. As always, the wild is wild, bring insect repellent, hand sanitizer, sun cream if you feel like, and your common medications, but don’t forget motion sickness pills, intestinal medicine and tissues.

Documentary equipment is a must. Besides my phone, I always take my zoom audio recorder, proper video camera with double battery, extra sim card, small speakers for parties, and a small hand book so I don’t miss any specific data.

If México is along your plans, I highly recommend Finca Chelín in Oaxaca, or in Veracruz, for the widest range of micro-lots go to Cafecol, they will take care of you.

Visiting a farm and seeing how the magic happens unlocks a world of revelations that the average consumer would never even imagine. Whatever your motives, it’s an investment of your time and money so make it worthwhile.

Coffee Origins and farms in Origin Countries by Fabrizio Sencion