There was a time when only baristas, roasters and growers knew the secrets to making the perfect cup of coffee. Now, people are willing to travel far and wide to enjoy a better brew. In this post we share how we discovered the best coffee farm stays around the world, when to visit and what it takes to taste the perfect cup.
There’s no doubt there is an art to enjoying good coffee. Whether pouring the perfect cup from the comfort of a cozy home kitchen or providing the locals with their daily dose in a bustling cafe, a sure way to ensure quality coffee is by using the best ingredients straight from the source. So we went straight to the place where coffee is cultivated, the coffee farm.
As with any artform, there is a process involved. When it comes to great coffee, the production process involves a complex supply chain. The links of this chain involve the collaboration of many artists. Before we explore the best destinations, let’s take a glimpse into the links involved in the coffee production process.
The Coffee Supply Chain
|The coffee supply chain can involve some or all of the following:|
Growers: Coffee is grown and harvested by the growers.
Processors: The beans are hulled and dry or wet processed. This process is usually called “milling”.
Intermediaries: The intermediaries may process, buy or sell the beans.
Government Agents: In countries where the country is in charge of the coffee trade, such as Ethiopia, the coffee is bought from processors by Government Agents and sold at auction to Exporters.
Exporters: The best quality green coffee beans are sourced by Exporters from co-ops or auctions and sold to the Suppliers.
Suppliers: Green coffee beans are sold by suppliers to the roasters.
Roasters: The green coffee beans are roasted to perfection then sent to retailers.
Retailers: Coffee and coffee products are sold and served to the public.
Seeing how many people can be involved in the coffee process and how much effort goes into every single bean before it even reaches the cup is enough to really appreciate every step that goes into enjoying a simple morning brew.
Then we went one step further and explored the best travel experiences for the coffee connoisseur, looking into every spot on the Bean Belt – the band around the Earth between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer where coffee grows best. These spots include Hawaii, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Columbia, Brazil, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
While many of the coffee farms in these spots are open for day tours or workshops, there are just a handful that offer the full bodied experience of actually staying on the farm, amongst the coffee trees. And many of these places are worth being explored for their culture and natural beauty alone, so waking up to a perfect cup is just a delicious bonus.
What to expect when visiting a coffee farm
For anyone who loves coffee, staying at a coffee farm and being fully immersed in the process from crop to cup can be a dream come true. While some include meeting the grower and being guided by the grower themselves through the complete growing process, every farm stay promises something to learn and appreciate from the art of coffee. And of course a coffee farm stay wouldn’t be complete without taste testing the finished product.
Accommodation at a Coffee Plantation
Accommodation at coffee plantations can suit any budget and comfort, from hostel style to luxury, depending on the plantation. As an example, you can experience it all at Hacienda Venecia in the Colombian coffee region. In addition to a coffee tour they offer camping, hostel, lodge or main house options.
Coffee Farm Activities
Coffee farm stay activities often include:
• Coffee plantation tours.
• Bird watching.
• Chasing waterfalls.
• Exploring nearby sites and experiencing the local culture.
Some estates also grow other crops such as chocolate or vegetables, just another delicious addition to the farm stay experience. Plus, most farm stays are not far from places to dip into the local culture or wander through the country’s natural beauty.
• Silk weaving tours.
• Chocolate tastings/
Best time to visit coffee farms
As for the best time of year to visit each coffee farm? We found the best time to visit a coffee farm really depends on when the coffee harvest season is for each destination.
Here we’ve gathered some of the world’s best coffee farms to visit, taste and actually stay at.
Top Places to Visit Coffee Farms
To be truly immersed in Colombian culture and taste some of the finest coffee and chocolate, Hacienda Venecia offers it all. This working coffee farm with picturesque surroundings offers farm stays to suit all budgets – from the hostel to the guest house.
With activities including coffee tours, chocolate workshops, local hikes and hot springs, Hacienda Venecia is a destination that the whole family would enjoy.
With over 500 TripAdvisor reviews and an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars, Hacienda Venecia knows how to deliver quality coffee and a stay to remember.
The best times to travel to Colombia for the coffee lover are during coffee harvest season which is April to May or October to December.
Although Australia doesn’t quite grow on the Bean Belt, the unique micro-climates and rich volcanic soils of Southern Queensland and Northern NSW cultivate a specialty coffee that is clean, green and sweet.
Wirui Coffee Estate – Origin House
Zeta’s Coffee is an artisan coffee producer that was introduced to the Tweed Hinterland in 1994. Grown in the volcanic soil in the Northern rivers of New South Wales gives this coffee it’s clean, fine acidity and full balanced signature, with caramel, chocolate and cinnamon flavors to finish.
This crop can be enjoyed from most Campos coffee houses or to enjoy the breathtaking views and delicious coffee experience the Wirui Estate coffee plantation offers up to 4 guests the opportunity to see how the coffee is grown from crop to cup.
Coffee harvest time in the east of Australia is generally around November-December. Which also just happens to be a great time to hit the East Coast’s beaches.
• Accommodation: https://book.roommanager.com.au/origin-house/accommodation/132059
• Zeta’s Coffee: https://zetascoffee.com.au/
Kona Rainforest Guesthouse
Growing Hawaii’s best coffee since 1999, Kona’s organic coffee farm offers rich volcanic soil, cooler elevations, a good mix of sunlight and rainfall, ideal for growing coffee and ideal for a tropical coffee travel experience. Kona’s rainforest guesthouse is a spacious 2 bedroom home nestled amongst the coffee trees on Kona’s 41 acre organic coffee farm. The owners, Leslie and Craig care for guests as they would family, offering a welcoming and happy stay.
Our top picks at Kona are day tours of the coffee farm, enjoying a cup of fresh coffee while overlooking the coffee trees from the peace of the guesthouse and taking a short trip into town to explore the rest of the island.
In sunny, tropical Hawaii it is always a good time to visit, although the best time to visit for good coffee is during Kona’s coffee harvest time which is August to February.
• Accommodation: https://organiccoffeehawaii.com/pages/guest-house
Heights Farm Stay
In a region of India fondly named the “Coffee Cup of India”, Heights Farm Stay is a tranquil place to enjoy some of the world’s best coffee. The plantation in northern Coorg is surrounded by lush green coffee, orange and pepper plants.
There is plenty to see and do at this northern Indian plantation such as walking through the coffee estate and learning about the growing process, making day trips throughout the Western Ghats, enjoying authentic home cooked Coorg cuisine and relaxing by the open campfire come nightfall.
Coffee harvest season in this part of the world is usually November through to March, although it is a beautiful place to visit any time of year.
• Website: http://heightsfarmstay.com/
Midori Coffee Farmstay
Enter the world’s second largest grower of coffee – Vietnam.
Famous for it’s beautiful waterfalls and countryside, the terrain of Dalat in Southern Vietnam is home to the Midori Coffee Farm. Nestled amongst the coffee trees off the beaten track, this farmstay provides a genuine Vietnamese coffee experience.
Staying at this coffee farm includes exploring the coffee crops and the neighboring tea farm, eating fresh meals prepared with food grown in Midori’s own veggie garden and learning about the coffee industry straight from the grower.
Vietnam’s coffee harvest season is generally October through to April although with the changes in the seasons we find it best to contact the grower before visiting a coffee farm in person.
• Website: http://www.midorifarmvn.com/
• Accomodation: http://www.midorifarmvn.com/en/visit-farmstay/farmstay.html
What Happens on a Coffee Tour?
Activities vary from farm to farm but you can generally expect a coffee farm tour to include a walk around the farm to see the coffee plants. Visiting coffee farms is a great way to learn about the process of growing and harvesting coffee. The coffee farmers will often show you the plants and explain what happens during each season.
Depending on the time of year you can expect to see some of the coffee cherries and possibly learn about the characteristics of different types of beans, such as arabica coffee beans (a particular strain of Arabica is used for Kona coffee in Hawaii) or other varieties such as Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica. Geisha coffee (originally from Ethiopia, but now more widespread) is especially prized.
If it is a small coffee farm, you may even be able to meet the owner, or the owner may even lead your tour. Visiting small coffee farms is something that I wish every coffee drinker could experience. On one of our tours in Guatemala, the owner and farmer invited us into his home, roasted the beans, and made a fresh batch of coffee for us while we watched. It was not really typical, but a great experience.
Sometimes you may also be able to see the processing plant or processing area where the beans are washed and dried. In some other cases, the processing may be located separately from the growing area and may not be included on the tour. Roasting of the beans is typically also done in a different location, closer to where the coffee will be ultimately brewed or sold.
Finally, you may be able to do a coffee tasting. However, keep in mind that many farmers may not have the more technical training that baristas in a coffee shop would have. If they are using local/traditional methods of brewing it will probably be really interesting, but you may not get the same expression that you would if you were drinking it with an expert barista.
Like the vast majority of drinkers in the world coffee scene, your experience may be limited to the coffee shops that you frequent. But if you drink coffee nearly every day like I do, it’s worth diving a bit deeper to learn the story behind what actually goes into your daily routine.
Have you experienced a coffee farm stay?
Which country would you choose from the list?