In Colombia’s Eje Cafetero, coffee is a way of life. This region is a rich tapestry of rolling hills, quaint villages, gorgeous natural reserves, and gigantic farms growing everything from bananas to plantains and, of course, coffee. The three departments of Caldas (capital: Manizales), Quindío (capital: Armenia), and Risaralda (capital: Pereira) make up the famed Coffee Triangle, and while each may argue over who produces the best “cuppa,” the kindness of their cordial, enterprising people and the delicious, delirious aroma of their piping hot Arabica coffee only blend their charm.

Authenticity as intense as the verdant hillsides bursts from the ground in the agricultural region, which has maintained the rustic charm and down-to-earth sensibility of committed craftsmen. Far from a touristy or pretentious “coffee scene,” the region wears its connection to the earth with pride. Prepare to be greeted by the owners of the fincas, with dirt under their nails and a smile on their face.

Hospitality has led the farmers to increase their tourism infrastructure. Far from attracting the big bucks of mass development, establishments like Hacienda Bambusa tapped into industry expertise to make sure that the experience they offered met the standards of their international visitors. This genuine desire for guests to feel welcome and honored permeates the entire regions. While drives are long, and terrain is windy, a warm reception awaits to reward you for your commitment to the journey.

Eje Cafetera’s contribution to agricultural and natural heritage earned it a UNESCO World Heritage designation, to ensure that the richness of the coffee always comes from the culture, history and process of family farms and traditional farming values. Even as technology and improved infrastructure improves the lives of the farmers, they have been charged with the preservation of their way of life, a charge they have taken in earnest.

Whether discussing the coffee growing process, tasting the culinary differences between each Eje Cafetero state, driving past jeeps packed with mustachioed farmers, gossiping with poncho-adorned locals in the cafes, or simply absorbing the array of dense colors along the mountains, the beauty of the coffee hacienda scenery will capture your heart before your first cup.