Falling in love with Margus Coffee Tours in Jardin, Colombia
We woke up at Margus Coffee Farm in Jardin, Colombia when it happened. Waking up that morning I had an extra spring in my step. Something was different, I felt different. I gazed over at Charo, and she felt it as well. We both fell head over heels in love with Jardin, Colombia.
What’s not to love. If you had a chance to stay with Gustavo and Marta you’d know as well. Our time was well spent seeing Jardin, learning about coffee trying to figure out why does everyone here drinks instant coffee?
We travelled by Rapido Ochoa from Medellin, Colombia. This was a small coach bus and was the only coach bus we could find to travel to Jardin. In Medellin, we went to Terminal Sur to get the bus.
***NOTE: When you’re looking for a bus, do not assume you know where the bus station is. We’ve found that, especially in larger cities, there can be several different terminals. Always check online, or ask a local. You don’t want to risk missing your bus.
Gustavo and Marta
I often write about the people who are hosting us at some point in my blog entry, but this time it’s different, and why wouldn’t it be, this was our first homestay. As I’m writing this blog entry I find that I mentioned Marta and Gustavo’s name over and over so I thought I’d give you a brief introduction to their family.
Marta – Wife, and mother. If you call to book a tour, you will be speaking with Marta. She is energetic, warm and a fantastic cook. Marta always has a smile. She even tried to understand that I Iike ice coffee. If you come to Margus Coffee tour, make sure to book in a meal while you’re there. You won’t regret it.
Gustavo – Husband and father. What can you do in Jardin? No worries, Gustavo has you covered. If you want a coffee tour, or want to check out the sites Gustavo is the man to talk to, he’s a fourth-generation coffee farmer. If you get to hang out in the evening, you’ll often find him duelling his daughter Diana in some type of game.
Diana – Daughter. She is trying to figure out what she wants to do in life. Diana seems to have an interest in leading tours like Gustavo.
Maria del Mar – Youngest daughter. If you need a fierce game of balloon volleyball, Maria del Mar is your girl.
Things to do in Jardin
Before we arrived in Jardin, Charo had organized to be picked up by Gustavo. He met us and took our bags to the farm while we explored the town.
Jardin de Rocas
On our first afternoon in Jardin, we took a walk to Jardin De Rocas. Here we saw the Peruvian state bird called the Andean cock-of-the-rock also known as the Tunki. This is a privately owned natural reserve garden where the make Tunki goes everyday to sing to attract a mate.
We watched for about an hour, waiting and listening and we were not disappointed. Well, all of us except Mateo who was more interested in the dog that roamed the property. Afterwards, we proceeded to check out the beautiful garden.
Margus Coffee Farm
Like I said before, we are in love. The farm is so beautiful, we spent our nights in a loft with two double beds that overlooked the farm. If we got tired of the beds, then there were a couple of fo hammocks nestled just outside our room where you could read or just relax.
Every morning, Marta greeted us with a fresh, tasty breakfast and a warm smile. She even made me ice coffee without making too much fun of me.
Every child should spend some time on a farm. From the crack of dawn, Mateo would wake up wanting to do chores. The others helped out, but he was always first to try to milk the cow, or collect eggs from the chickens, or help pick some fresh fruit.
After doing all the “chores” they could be found chasing and having fun with the little chicks. Honestly, I felt sorry for the poor birds.
Marta offers cooking lessons of traditional Colombian recipes. We couldn’t get enough.
Margus Coffee Tour
What do you want to know about Coffee? Just ask Gustavo or Marta. Like I’ve mentioned before Gustavo is a fourth-generation coffee farmer and he led us for a morning of coffee knowledge.
Our first step was to look the part.
After, we were led to the fields and shown which fruit to pick. It was not the best time of year to pick coffee but we did find a few ready to go. The red ones are the ones to pick, and the green ones still need more time.
After we spent some time picking coffee fruits we journeyed to where the magic happens. Gustavo explained to us the fresh-picked coffee will first be seeded.
After seeding, they fall into a little channel that is filled with water. This is an important part of the process. The beans that float were taken to make instant coffee, and the beans that didn’t float would be roasted and packaged. Floating beans sold for less than the others, but the good news was all beans were able to be sold, just at different price points.
After this process, the beans are dried from 3 days to a week depending on the weather conditions. Direct sunlight is used but this area does have a cover in case of rain.
The final process is roasting. Unless you’re selling your own brand of coffee this process is not done on-premises. Most times, this will be done by the individual brands. For example, Nespresso grows coffee in the same region. The beans are the same as the ones grown at Margus, it’s the roasting that is different. While we were in Atenas, Costa Rica we had a chance to see the roasting process at another coffee farm tour.
The Cost of Coffee
Every morning I want to start my day off right, and that usually means brewing a fresh cup of coffee. The smell, the taste, just puts me in a good mood.
How often do I think about what goes into that cup?
During our coffee tour with Gustavo, he explained to us on average, 1 pound of coffee nets him approximately 3000 Colombian pesos. To put in perspective, one pound contains enough coffee beans to produce 70 cups of coffee. It doesn’t sound too bad until you do the conversion. One US dollar is equivalent to approximately 3400 Colombian Pesos. That means for every 70 cups of coffee I drink, my friend Gustavo and his family earn approximately 90 cents.
Just like every other farmer, there are ups and downs in the market. Right now, the market is low. The coffee market is flooded with beans from all over the world, so making money is harder and harder.
Who is Juan Valdez?
Growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s, I watched a lot of television. If you’re like me, you were sure to have seen Juan Valdez commercials like the one I posted from our time in Medellin.
In the commercial we see a man, Juan Valdez, preparing coffee to be sold to us. Who is this Juan Valdez? He is every Colombian coffee farmer, but that’s not the real question. The question should be what is Juan Valdez?
Juan Valdez is a collective of all coffee farmers in Colombia. Thousands of farming families produce coffee under the title brand of Juan Valdez. But it’s not only a place to sell coffee. Farmers get the benefit of education on best practices on growing, harvest, and prepare coffee and share the information with all the farmers. They also purchase any of the technologies needed for farming, processing or roasting coffee.
Gustavo’s Jardin, a tour
We spent a day touring around the Jardin area with Gustavo. There is nothing like being shown around a town by someone who is local. We would never have found these places by ourselves.
The waterfalls were our first stop on the tour just a few minutes out of town.
We spent an hour at a natural pool to swim. The water was cold so Charo and I didn’t survive it too well.
The kids jumped right in. Since our experiences in La Ceiba, the kids will jump off any rock they can find.
Gustavo drove us over to the fish farm where we met up with Marta and Maria del Mar. The kids really got into it. To the people who like fishing I know it was cheating, but spending half an hour at a guaranteed catch spot is much better than the torture of hearing how someone couldn’t catch a fish. The best part is, you only pay for what you catch, and the fishing part is free and they provide the poles.
Don Samuel Hats
Okay, okay, this wasn’t officially part of the tour. We just wanted an unbiased opinion on the right hat to buy. Gustavo is definitely the man for the job. Charo and I both ended up purchasing our own hat at Sombreros Don Samuel.
How much did we love it here?
We spent two extra days more than we intended with our new friends. Day one I spent helping them out set up their Facebook page. Please go over and give them a like. If you know someone going to Colombia give them their info as well.
Day 2 we spent looking at properties. We will be going back to Jardin hopefully in the near future.
Not a day goes by I do not think of my time there at Margus with my new friends.
I’m an aspiring world traveller. I’ll be taking my family of five on the road for a year to see where it leads us. While I’m writing this there is approximately 10 months till we hit the road with our backpacks. Till then I’ll be teaching and trying to survive being a dad.