Atop A Mountain, Colombia’s Café San Alberto Takes Cues From Vineyards

cafe san alberto lucia hernandez

This story begins in Buenavista, the tiniest town in Colombia’s smallest state of Quindío. Here, some of the country’s best-regarded coffees are grown. Here, also, is Café San Alberto, a cafe founded in 2007 that sits atop a mountain, overlooking sprawling farms, where coffee is drunk from wine glasses and baristas and cuppers are like artists.

The cafe is connected to Hacienda San Alberto, whose operation has been overseen by the same family for three generations. The commitment to the farm is paying off—this year, one of their coffees fetched the highest price in the National Quality Competition, which was held by Colombia’s national coffee growers federation.

cafe san alberto lucia hernandez
cafe san alberto lucia hernandez

Juan Pablo and Gustavo Villota, brothers and the newest generation overseeing San Alberto’s operations, were in France touring vineyards when they had the idea to try translating the experience of drinking wine in the country to their own 40-hectare coffee estate in Colombia. With the Buenavista cafe, they appear to have succeeded. A trail of coffee trees leads up to a terrace, where depending on the time of day, guests can take in foggy mornings or overlook a seemingly endless expanse of green mountainsides.

cafe san alberto lucia hernandez
cafe san alberto lucia hernandez

The Villotas have cafes in Cartagena and the Gold Museum in addition to their Buenavista space, with a forthcoming cafe in Bogota. But the experience of drinking coffee at the farm itself remains singular. They offer multiple tours of San Alberto’s coffees, including a so-called “Coffee Baptism,” which purports to educate guests in the “magic behind the most award-winning Colombian coffee.”

Of course, there isn’t any actual magic behind what makes San Alberto’s coffee so remarkable. Instead, there are years of commitment to quality and experimentation. Experiencing it on the same estate where it’s grown is a bonus. 

Lucía Hernández is a freelance journalist based in Colombia. This is Lucía Hernández’s first article for Sprudge.


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