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Dear children

Grumpy and I are now in Colombia which is the last country we shall ride through in South America. We have been riding Bertie for 5 months and have travelled 23,219 kilometers which is quite a long way.

One of the things that Colombia is famous for is coffee. You will see coffee at home in the kitchen in jars or packets but it may have come from Colombia.

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We went to a small organic coffee farm to see where the coffee is grown. The coffee beans grow on bushes which have lots of other plants all round them, bananas, oranges, and other fruits.

Bunch of bananas on a banana plant

These provide cover to help keep the coffee plants at the best temperature and having different plants is good for the soil. The farmers also like the spiders which protect the coffee bushes from insects by eating them before they can damage the plants.

Star Spider in the coffee plantation

The bushes produce coffee beans twice a year which are red or yellow in colour. First a bud appears which becomes a flower and then the fruit appears. The coffee bean is inside the fruit and when you take it out of the skin it tastes sweet. The fruits are put through a machine to take the skins off and the beans are laid out to dry which takes 2-4 weeks. The farmer turns them over until they are all dry. They are put through a grinder to break the hard shell off and then they can be roasted in a pan for 45 minutes.

Coffee beans with their shells squeezed off. They feel all slimey

When they are roasted they turn dark brown and then you can smell the coffee. Sometimes they are sold as whole beans and ground up at home and sometimes they are sold after they are ground up. Grumpy and I had a go at grinding the beans and we had a cup of our own coffee to taste. It was yummy.

Have a look at the coffee at home and in the shops and see if you can find out which country it comes from; you might find some from  Colombia.

Roasted coffee beans

Next week we will be taking a ferry to Panama in Central America. We have to take a ferry as there is no road joining South America and Central America. This area with no roads through it is called the ‘Darien Gap’.

Narna & Grumpy

The Darien Gap

Tall plants amongst the coffee bushes which are dark green and low down

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