Medellin Coffee Tour – Best Tour In Medellin

Home » Colombia » Medellin Coffee Tour: From Tree To Cup (Be A Farmer For 1 Day)

Colombia is a country that is known around the world for its coffee. Some of the best coffee in the world is grown in Colombia. Many travelers head to the famous coffee region for a Colombian coffee tour. But you can also do a Medellin coffee tour and visit amazing farms right on the edge of the city.

We visited Rituales Cafe in Medellin and were told they get their beans from a farm in Medellin. The coffee was amazing so we decided we had to visit the farm.

The tour with Urban Coffee Tours Medellin is one of the best tours I have ever been on. I think it is one of the best things to do in Medellin and is so much more than a coffee tour. You will learn a lot about Medellin’s history as well as coffee.

Why Is Colombian Coffee So Good?

The reason Colombian coffee is so good is that it has the perfect geography and climate.

In order to grow high-quality coffee with complex flavors and aromas you need the right temperature, rainfall, altitude, and soil.

Colombia is blessed with beautiful mountains and year-round warm temperatures. In order to grow the high-quality coffee temperatures need to be between 15 and 24 degrees Celsius and the altitude needs to be above 4500 feet or 1400 meters.

A man dressed in traditional colombian farmers clothes picking coffee beans on an urban coffee tour in medellin colombia

Because Colombia is located near the equator temperatures at high altitudes remain warm. At similar altitudes in Europe or North America, the temperature would be cold year-round.

The reason high altitude creates a higher quality bean is that the beans take longer to grow at this altitude. This creates a harder bean with more complex flavors. If the beans are grown at lower temperatures the beans will be softer and lack flavor.

At these altitudes in Colombia, there is also plenty of rainfall for the beans to grow. This also makes it a beautiful country to explore as there are green hills everywhere!

Coffee beans drying on top of a sack in medellin colombia

The last factor that makes Colombia a great place to grow coffee is the soil. Volcanic soil is great for growing coffee as it has all the nutrients needed to create complex flavors and Colombia has a lot of Volcanic soil.

All these factors together mean that Colombia is an amazing place to grow coffee. But not only is Colombia a great place to grow coffee but the hills around Medellin specifically are a great place to grow coffee.

Conditions Needed To Grow Good Coffee

  1. Temperature ☀️ Coffee grows best at temperatures between 15 – 24 degrees Celsius or 60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Altitude ⛰️ The highest quality coffee grows above 1400 meters or 4500 feet.
  3. Soil 🪴 Volcanic soil has the right nutrients for flavorful coffee.
  4. Rainfall 🌧️ Coffee needs 150 – 250 cm or 60 – 100 inches of rainfall per year.

Artisinal Coffee In Colombia

Although Colombia grows the best coffee in the world and is also the 3rd largest producer in the world. Up until recently, you could not find much good coffee in Colombia.

Most of the good coffee in Colombia was exported overseas and Colombians drank the poor quality coffee. But about 15 years ago there was a movement to start using local beans to make good coffee in Colombia.

Urban Coffee Tour Medellin

We chose to do a tour with Urban Coffee Tour and I think they offer the best Medellin Coffee Tour. Tours are in English but the guides will translate anything the farm owners and workers say from Spanish to English.

Urban Coffee Tour was started by a local guide who wanted to share with tourists that high-quality coffee can be grown right in the city.

On the tour, you will be taken to a working coffee farm that is run with a strong emphasis on ethical practices. Rosa is the local lady whose father started the farm and who runs the farm today.

A tour guide talking about the coffee making process on a medellin coffee tour
Our tour guide Claudia

Her father was one of the first local farmers who started to sell his beans locally and start the artisanal coffee trend.

Rosa joins the tours and is really involved in projects to improve the community. So it is good to know that money from the tours will also help the community.

The tour also felt very personal because Rosa came to meet us at the pickup point. So you do not feel like you are being pushed through a tourist trap.

La Sierra Neighborhood

The tour takes place in La Sierra or Comuna 8 which used to be one of the most dangerous places in Medellin. It is an area with a very similar story to Comuna 13 on the other side of the valley.

During the early 2000s, La Sierra was one of the most dangerous areas in Medellin. During this time there were frequent shootouts between youth gangs who fought for control of territory. This resulted in the residents living in a mini-war zone.

Three woman standing next to a metal railing looking over the top of Medellin from the La Sierra neighborhood
The view over Medellin from the La Sierra Neighborhood

Sometimes residents were blocked from leaving the area by police so that troublemakers could not leave the area. So life was miserable for residents but luckily today it is a much safer area. Although there are still improvements to be made it is now safe to visit on a tour.

The tour guide who created Urban Coffee Tour teamed up with Rosa a local woman whose dad started growing coffee in La Sierra. Her dad started to grow coffee as a way to generate income when it was very hard to get work due to the situation in La Sierra.

Today Rosa runs the farm as her father has passed away. However, she is very involved in the local community and does a lot of volunteer work to help the community.

So it is great to know that by doing a tour with Urban Coffee Tours some of the money will benefit the community.

What To Expect On The Urban Coffee Tour

Tour Cost – 150,000 Colombian Pesos or 38 USD Duration – 4 hours

To start the tour you will meet with your guide at the San Antonio metro station. Before traveling to La Sierra by public transport. You will first travel by tram to the cable car station. Then catch a cable car up to La Sierra.

Transport to La Sierra is included in the price so the guides will have a transport card to pay for the group.

Traveling in the cable car is a really great part of the tour. There is an awesome view and it is really interesting traveling above the communities below.

TIP : If you arrive early at the meeting point I recommend going to nearby San Antonio Park. It is not the prettiest park but there is a Botero Statue that was blown up by the FARC many years ago. It is an interesting spot to visit for a few minutes.

Two men with backpack on looking at a botero statue in Medellin that was blown up
Botero Statue that was blown up by para-military groups
A view from a cable car in Medellin over the top of the La Sierra neighborhood
View from the cable car

At the top of the cable car, there is a 15 to 20-minute walk to the coffee house in La Sierra where the coffee tour starts. It is up very steep roads and there are quite a lot of steps.

When you arrive at the Rosas house in La Sierra you will be told all about the history of Rosas father’s farm. It is a really interesting story.

La Sierra History

You will also be taken to a room where there will be a talk about the La Sierra neighborhood. It is super interesting and this is what makes it so much more than a coffee tour.

Although La Sierra is much safer than it was in the early 2000’s it is still an area where gangs control a lot of the neighborhood. Our guide told us that one day she was taking a tour and a motorbike drove really fast close to the group on purpose.

Usually, you would go to the police for dangerous behavior but in this case, Rosa talked to the local gangs. They then found the offender and made sure he didn’t do it again. A little worrying! but apparently, the gangs are doing a good job of keeping the peace.

A young boy dressed as a farmer talking to a group on a medellin coffee tour
Mathias teaching us about the history of La Sierra and Medellin

The Coffee-Making Process

After the history of the farm and La Sierra, you will be guided through the artisanal coffee-making process. Plus you will also get to sample some of the coffee from the farm!

Once you learn about all the work that goes into an artisanal cup of coffee you will appreciate it so much more. It is a very complex process with a lot of effort needed to make a good cup of coffee.

Harvesting The Beans

The first step is to of course harvest high-quality beans. When you buy mass-produced coffee from a company such as Nescafe the coffee is very bitter. This is because their beans are not high quality so they over roast them to hide the flavor.

This results in coffee that is very dark and bitter without complex flavor. To harvest high-quality beans you need to harvest by hand. Harvesting by hand ensures that only the ripe beans are picked.

Mass-produced coffee beans are usually picked by machines. This means that beans that are not ripe enough are also picked and mixed with all the other beans.

A tour guide explaining to a group of tourists the process of growing a coffee sapling while on a medellin coffee tour

During the tour, you will be taken into the coffee fields to harvest some beans. You will also get to dress up like a traditional Colombian farmer while you pick your beans.

I thought this was a bit cheesy when I saw pictures of the tour. But it actually ended up being a lot of fun!

To make one cup of coffee it takes around 70 beans so we had 70 beans as a target. I didn’t get close to picking that many but it was good fun learning how to pick beans and seeing what they look like in their raw form.

A scale with fresh cofee beans on top of them
The beans our group picked on the tour were weighed

Together our group of 8 picked about 2 kg of beans in about 20 minutes. But apparantly a good picker can pick 400kg of beans in one day! It is hard work so after the tour you will appreciate the work that goes into picking your coffee bans

Selecting The Best Beans

After the beans are harvested the good beans need to be sorted from the bad ones. It is very hard to tell a good bean from a bad bean just by looking at it.

A bean may have gone rotten on the inside or have insects inside. The only way to sort them out is to put all the beans in a container full of water.

The good beans will sink to the bottom but the bad ones will float to the top. We were told on the tour that if you buy many commercial coffees such as Nescafe they use this coffee that floats to the top!

Removing The Bean Skin

Once the beans have been selected the skin is removed from the beans. At Rosa’s Farm, this is done with a small grinder that is powered by hand.

This process would be done by huge machinery by most coffee producers. So it is interesting to so it done on such a small scale.

Grinding the skins of the outside of the coffee beans

Fermenting The Beans

After the skins have been removed the beans must be fermented. To do this the beans are placed inside plastic bins. This is an important step to develop flavor in the beans.

Drying The Beans

Once the beans are sufficiently fermented they must be dried. The speed at which they are dried is also an important step in creating flavor.

The beans at Rosa’s farm are dried under the shade. Another option is to dry them in direct sunlight which creates a different flavor.


Now is the final step in creating flavor and that is the roasting process. As I have already mentioned most mass-produced coffee is over-roasted.

Many people think that dark roast coffee is high quality. But in reality, large manufacturers overroast their coffee to mask the poor quality of their beans and ensure that every cup tastes the same.

Artisan producers such as Roas will only medium roast their beans. This will allow you to taste the subtle flavors in the coffee. It also means that every year the coffee may taste different depending on the weather and other conditions that affect the flavor.

The roasting is once again done in a homemade device. It was invented by Rosas’s father and is once again awesome to see high-quality coffee produced with homemade devices.


The last step is of course to grind the beans. This is important depending on whether you want to make your coffee as an expresso, filter, or aeropress. All different methods require different sizes of coffee grounds.

And Now The Coffee Is Done!

Once you have been through the whole process you get to sample another cup of coffee.

Plus you also get a chocolate pastry which was delicious! I usually try and avoid gluten but this pastry was too good not to eat.

It is super interesting watching the whole process. Especially considering that Rosas farm makes such high-quality coffee with such basic machinery.

It really makes you realize that you do not need to buy coffee from major manufacturers. All that they have is the ability to produce coffee on a mass scale. But in doing so they sacrifice quality and pay farmers all around the world terrible prices for their coffee.

So whenever possible try and buy high-quality coffee that is ethically sourced.

Know You All About The Best Medellin Coffee Tour

This tour with Urban Coffee Tours is one of the best tours I have ever done. It is so much more than a coffee tour. Learning about the neighborhood and the story behind the family that started the farm is awesome.

I also really enjoyed that you are exploring an area of Medellin where no other tourists come. So it really feels like an authentic neighborhood. You may be missing this when you visit Communa 13 which is packed full of tourists.

So if you are in Medellin and love coffee then I highly recommend doing a tour with Urban Coffee Tours! You will not regret it.

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Travel, health and fitness fanatic. Co-founder of happyhealthynomads.

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