Introduction

Colombia is famous for its coffee, but nowhere is the prized bean more important than in the departments of Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío, which together make up the heart of the Zona Cafetera, also called the Eje Cafetero (Coffee Axis). Here you'll find jeeps packed with mustachioed coffee pickers; poncho-wearing senior citizens gossiping in cafes; and, of course, endless cups of piping-hot arabica. Many working fincas (coffee farms) have embraced tourism and welcome visitors onto their plantations to learn all about the coffee-growing process. It is particularly interesting to visit during the harvests (April to May, October to December) when the farms are a hive of activity.

The region was colonized by paisas in the 19th century during the colonización antioqueña, and remains culturally tied to Medellín in everything from its traditional architecture to its cuisine. It's an area of spectacular natural beauty and there are stunning vistas everywhere.