Quite unassuming, in one of Bogota's most upscale neighborhoods, a red storefront sits nestled in between a row of houses. Inside lies arguably Colombia's best coffee roasters and baristas. Although Colombia is very well known for their most popular export, the coffee bean, in the past no roasters in Colombia took coffee seriously. The best beans were exported for a premium price. The beans that stayed in the country were the beans that were picked out because of their small size or defect.
Luis Velez, the founder of Amor Perfecto, was the first roaster in Colombia to challenge that. He was the first in the country to go straight to the farmers, gather the best beans, and perfect the roasting and preparing of the beans. In the United States, even the best coffee beans have had to travel thousands of miles before making it to the roaster. At Amor Perfecto they can go from having the cherries picked (the fruit that houses the beans) to pouring a cup of coffee in less than a month. They have relationships with the coffee farmers and even name their roasts after the farm the beans came from.
Two days ago, with three of the women I'm traveling with, I got the opportunity to learn all about coffee from Amor Perfecto's expert barista, Diego Campo. He went through the long growing process (it takes three years to go from seed to a good crop of coffee beans), the process of picking the cherries and fermenting the beans, and sorting the beans (the larger beans are sorted from the smaller beans and sold at a higher price). He taught us to to identify the complex flavors, fragrances, and aromas. And finally he taught us about preparing the perfect cup of coffee.
It's still early in my stay in Bogota, but I have a feeling this is one memory from this country that will stick with me for years.