The rolling green hills of southwestern Antioquia are dotted with bright red cherries, not to top a sundae but to brew up a steaming cup of joe. The first swath of Colombia’s famous coffee-growing triangle begins in southern Antioquia, with the town of Andes appropriately dubbed “the commercial gate to the coffee zone.” On the winding stretch of the road from Venecia to Bolombolo, a visitor from Medellín is afforded several glances at the razor-sharp angles of Cerro Tusa, supposedly the mountain that inspired the Juan Valdez coffee logo. The fame of Colombian coffee is indebted to these farms.
Then why is it that many cafés, even in this coffee-producing region, serve their customers — often coffee-growers themselves — instantaneous crap for coffee? Why is it that the hard-working coffee pickers are drinking not the cream of their crop, but the unappetizing sludge? Like with many other producer countries, their highest quality harvest is exported to Europe or North America, and the locals are left with the rejects.
It’s time for the locals to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and that is what’s starting to take place in Jardín, Antioquia.
Fronted by iconic actors like George Clooney, the Swiss company Nespresso has earned a reputation for producing excellent coffee, selling espresso in single-dosage capsules brewed exclusively by Nespresso machines. These capsules come in all the hues of the rainbow, with sexy descriptions reminiscent of a wine bottle. For example, Rosabaya, or “Colombia’s pink cherry,” seduces its tasters with its “subtle acidity, winey notes, typical red fruits, a full body and long duration in the mouth.”
Normally the grand opening event for the latest innovative mix is held in trendy capital cities in Europe. This time, the newest Nespresso capsule Dhjana was launched on a patch of the soil that grew its beans: in Jardín, Antioquia.
On Sunday, September 25, 2011, coffee producers and coffee consumers came out to the afternoon event to support excellent quality and sustainably produced local coffee. Along with brewing up free samples of Dhjana, there was a parade and contest for the best coffee-themed float, local cultural presentations, and a performance by the Ballet Folclorico de Antioquia, all set against the backdrop of Jardín’s picturesque plaza.
Dhjana is the first limited edition 100% Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality capsule, meaning it has been grown following criteria for environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Knowing that the coffee-pickers are well paid and the watersheds are protected will make the “intense, full-bodied and velvety espresso” taste that much better.
* Originally published in September 2011 on Jack, Colombia’s Bilingual Magazine covering music, fashion and culture. (Jackmag.com.co)