If you’ve been into a café in Australia or NZ recently, you may have noticed something happening with the coffee — and we’re not talking about the fancy ‘latte art’.
Quite often these days you’re provided with tasting notes that read like wine labels (bright raspberry acidity with a caramel finish?) and statistics about the coffee you didn’t know were important — such as the altitude at which it’s grown. For each person who thinks it’s all a bit OTT, there are any number of us discovering just how interesting our morning coffee can be.
Curious? Well, there’s someone out there willing to indulge that curiosity. Enter Monique Bayer from Adventures to Origin coffee tours.
You might have heard of Monique — host of Walk Melbourne’s popular Coffee Lovers Walk. However, drinking coffee in the comfort of a trendy Melbourne cafe just isn’t enough for this lady.
‘The more I learn about coffee, the more I realise that the heroes of the story are the farmers’, says Monique. ‘Even with the best barista and roaster, it all starts with the farmer. Nothing happens without them. And happily, coffee farms tend to be in lush, green, exotic parts of the world, so we thought why not create unforgettable travel experiences for people with a real interest in coffee by visiting to the actual farms of origin?’
Why not indeed, and there’s no shortage of exotic destinations on the list of the world’s top coffee producing nations — including Brazil, Colombia and Honduras. However, safety is paramount, according to Monique. ‘We’ve chosen destinations with a reputation for producing top speciality coffee, but most importantly, they are safe places to visit — with strong tourist infrastructures in place.’
Initial Adventures to Origin destinations will include Costa Rica and Rwanda, with itineraries designed to be as appealing to the casual latte drinker as to a serious coffee enthusiast — or even a professional barista who wants a break from pulling shots. ‘We are mixing in non-caffeinated highlights as well that are unique to our destinations. Think the cloud forests and beaches in Costa Rica or visiting mountain gorillas in Rwanda.’
There’s no doubt that Monique is well qualified to lead these coffee tours. A published food writer and former barista, she’s incredibly passionate about coffee. She has travelled all over the world to check out the café scenes, but when it came to wanting to visit the farms themselves — she found it a little more difficult to access.
‘Many people in the coffee industry visit ‘origin’ or take ‘green buying’ trips all the time. But these trips are often frenetic —visiting several farms in one day, commercially focused and highly technical. They’re certainly no holiday. I couldn’t really find anyone offering holidays for coffee enthusiasts to get their boots dirty and meet the farmers’.
‘Our adventures won’t be a green buying trip or a package holiday — we’ll sit somewhere in between. The groups will be made up of like-minded coffee enthusiasts who want to get a little off the beaten track and learn a whole lot about coffee, but relax at the same time’.
So, what sort of things will you learn on one of these trips, that you can’t experience from the comfort of a cafe? ‘With most fruit, we eat the flesh and throw away the seed — with coffee it’s the opposite. The process used to extract the seed from the cherry varies widely according to where in the world we are and also the volume of coffee that each farm produces.’
‘On your packet of coffee it’s called the processing method and they might use words like ‘washed’ or ‘natural’ to describe it. All of this affects the flavours you taste in the cup. We will see different processing methods first hand on each adventure, and we’ll taste the difference as well.’
‘Most importantly, we’ll get an appreciation for the lives of the farmers. We’ll spend time with them, and have a real conversation. Who knows, we might even have a laugh as well!’
Additional images: Bigstock