The next morning we spent a bit of time on the internet before driving out to Pueblo Tapao to meet the Buitrago's. Our instructions were to drive to the hardware store in town then give them a call, as it turns out the family own the hardware store and the supermarket next to it. They sat us in the office and discussed what we wanted to do that afternoon. Eventually it was decided that we would go and see a local coffee farm as they couldn't believe we had never seen a coffee plant before. We drove out to the farm with José and sons Esteban (17) and Jacobo (15), when we arrived José asked for a quick tour from the owner who obliged. With Esteban and Jacobo acting as translators we were taken through the process of sprouting new plants from beans in sand, then the harvesting of the ripe red fruit. To acquire the bean the fruit is split open mechanically and then the resulting bean with its sweet outer coating is washed in a large tank. The beans are then split into first and second grades and taken to be dried. The drying takes between 12-24 hours to achieve around a 12% water content left in the bean. The bean then has a final outer shell to be removed which comes off like sawdust. The resulting greyish green bean is then ready to be sent to the coffee co-operatives for roasting or export un-roasted. The process is very self sufficient with the red skin of the fruit being used as fertiliser and the dried inside shell being burnt to fuel the furnace that dries the next lot of beans. It was an excellent tour of a real working small scale coffee farm, but there was more to come… Next we were taken to a nearby quality testing coffee lab where we were taught about the further grading of the beans into twelve categories and the roasting process. The girl that worked there said she spent her days preparing and taste testing coffee but still enjoyed drinking it at home. Just as we were about to leave we saw a man loading up his packaged roasted coffee into his truck. José stopped him in his tracks and brought two bags of his very special coffee including one he insisted was a gift for my parents back in NZ. It didn't get much better buying local quality coffee straight from the source rather than from the huge co-operatives, we can't help but squeeze the bag every now and then to get a whiff of the delicious smell inside.