The coffee zone is a geographical area that comprises of three Colombian departments: Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío; with their respective capital cities of Manizales, Pereira and Armenia. The departments have many things in common including a deep-rooted coffee culture, the pre-Columbian history that is more ingrained than the Spanish legacy, its beautiful landscapes, the friendliness and hardworking nature of the people. Nevertheless, each has its particularities: Manizales stands out for its cultural life, museums and monuments; Armenia as the heart of the region and for being reconstructed after the earthquake of 1999, and Pereira due to its commercial activity, gastronomy and nightlife.

Before the arrival of the Spanish in the mid XIX century, the area was inhabited by the Quimbaya people. This tribe had 80 caciques or independent chiefs of which 5 of these were high ranking. They lived in the midst of immense bamboo forests and they were experts in working “guadua” making instruments, tools and constructions. They were the first to work with metals, in approximately 500 bC, in what is present-day Colombian territory, using techniques such as lost wax, adopted from other South American tribes.

Most of the coffee production in Colombia is based here and for that reason the region is aptly named as the “Coffee zone”, “Coffee Axis” or “Region or Coffee Triangle”. The climate, with temperatures that vary from 8 to 24 degrees; the geographic characteristics, a tropical Andean forest between 1,300 and 1,700 meters; and other geological issues permit such high-quality coffee. The fertile valleys with their seemingly endless coffee plantations, traditional wooden houses with brightly coloured balconies and further constructions in guadua come together to create the typical and vibrant landscape of this region.

It is believed that coffee was first cultivated by the Jesuits and then its use started growing gradually throughout the country and then for exportation towards the end of the XIX century. Coffee comes from a bush-like tree of the rubiáceas family and what is cultivated here in Colombia is the Arabica strain which is the most popular type. Historically coffee has always been present in one shape or form during man’s existence. It has been the drink of love and the drink of loss, happiness and sadness, friendship and loneliness.  

This sole commercial activity is the one that drove the three departments to unite to become a single region and it is here where the landscapes vary in shades of green due to coffee plantations, the clusters of banana trees and guaduales; The wax Palms – the national tree marks the spectacular Cocora Valley; other colours can be seen in the region such as in orchids, heliconias; in birds such as hummingbirds and parrots and in butterflies; in Los Nevados National Park which reaches altitudes surpassing 5,000m; and in the beautiful architecture of towns like Salento or Filandia. This region also is united by the beauty and warmth of its people.