I have had the honor of knowing Scarlett since kindergarten. Not only have we watched each other grow and blossom into the dream chasers we are today, but we also unknowingly made a significant impact on each others lives. To learn more about Scarlett's mission and her life today follow her blog at Love For A Nation (also check out her awesome headshots taken by myself)!
Now moving on to the food aspect of the journey, it was during her travels in Colombia that she was able to take part in making fresh coffee. Scarlett described the locals as naturally caring and very loveable people, they carried a vibe that she greatly missed when back in America. Though everyday was filled with adventure, some of her most spontaneous experiences became favorites. It was during one of those spontaneous happenings that she learned how to make traditional Café con Panela (basically coffee and sugarcane), a favorite among the locals. The process included picking, shelling, drying, roasting and grinding the coffee beans until they were ready to be used in a truly fresh brew. This hands on experience gave Scarlett a new outlook on coffee, which she eagerly shared with us while back in America. Since freshly picked coffee beans are a little hard to come by in most states, freshly ground coffee beans can easily be substituted.
Panela is an unprocessed, unrefined, solid version of sugar cane. It has been argued that panela is the healthiest version of sugar cane since it is in its most natural state. Aguapanela (similar to sugar water) is a popular drink in Colombia, which is often accented with lime juice. Drinking plain sugar water may sound weird, but if you look at most drinks marketed in America today they all contain a base of sugar (or high fructose corn syrup more often than not) and water. Evaporated cane juice, which is made by removing the water content from panela, can be found in many health food products on the shelves today. You can find Panela at most grocery stores in the international aisle or in any world market specialty food store.
Café con Panela (Coffee with Sugarcane)
Freshly ground coffee beans
Panela or sugar cane
Unsweetened almond milk or Local cow's milk (optional)
Boil 1 cup of water over the stovetop. Next add in one heaping tablespoon of ground coffee and one tablespoon/ small chunk of panela. Boil until the panela is fully dissolved. To finish it off, pour the mixture through a fine strainer, add milk if desired and enjoy! Recipe makes coffee for one, but is easily doubled.