Artisanal Bread in Minca, Colombia

Fresh baked artesanal bread in Minca, Colombia
The smell of fresh baked bread and lush, rich chocolate. Quiet classical music.  A high arched ceiling, dark exposed wooden beams against bright white. Artistically placed vintage treasures. A tiny, carefully selected menu, changing from day to day: artisanal bread with cream cheese; coffee from a local farm; thick fudgy oat cookies; gooey brownies baked with fresh cacao, also from a local farm. Are we in San Francisco? No, we’re in Minca, a tiny village in the midst of jungle-covered mountains, an hour outside of Santa Marta and 6 hours from Cartagena, Colombia.

Duni is a foodie find that would fit into most modern city settings. With its carefully curated, locally sourced, farm to table menu, it would fit perfectly into a New York, San Francisco, or London setting: a quiet reprieve for the busy hipster to enjoy a coffee and some truly outstanding bread while browsing the internet. As it is, the only hipsters here are fellow travelers and the owner’s fashionably dressed children, and while we are browsing the internet as we enjoy our bread, it’s also the only currently functioning wi-fi in the tiny town of Minca, in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Carefully selected books displayed on the wooden counters of Duni, an artisinal bakery in the tiny town of Minca, Colombia.
Carefully selected books and ice cold purified water. We were thrilled about the water. Purified water is a luxury when travelling in Colombia.

We sit outside on the little patio of Duni, sipping our coffee, surveying the mountains to our left, the dirt path leading to the iglesia and some tiny mercados straight ahead, and a crumbling colonial home to our right. The peaceful, sleepy little town of Minca is a Colombian treasure that is just beginning to be discovered by travelers and backpackers. Lush with mountain views and thick with jungle vegetation dotted with waterfalls and swimming holes, Minca is the gateway to the famed Ciudad Perdida trek – Colombia’s answer to Macchu Picchu. For travelers gearing up for or recovering from the trek, Minca is the perfect town to relax and take in the incredible sunset – and some soft, airy fresh baked bread.

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A Sierra Indian stops by the artisinal bakery of Duni, in Minca, Colombia, whose bread is baked using ingredients provided by the indigenous tribe.
A Sierra Indian stops by the bakery. Duni sources some of its ingredients from the local indigenous tribes.

We ask one of the owners of Duni, Tatiana, a little bit about the cafe. Turns out that she and her business partner, Janni, opened Duni only 5 days before we arrived, and there are big plans for expansion: an organic food shop, fresh sandwiches, myriad new menu items. As we talk, steaming focaccia bread cools tantalizingly behind her. Tatiana explains that not only are the ingredients from local farms, but Duni is also sourcing from the local Sierra tribe, descendants of the Tairona Indians, who have been living in this area since well before the Conquistadors invaded South America (click here for more information). The indigenous population is alive and well still, existing much as they always have but integrated into the blossoming tourist culture here: you can meet them on the way to Parque Tayrona, where many of them live; hire one of them as a guide to trek to the ancient “lost city” of Teyuna – though it was in fact abandoned during the invasion of the Conquistadors, not lost as its name implies;  or catch glimpses of them playing soccer or walking through Minca in their traditional garments of all white, carrying beautiful handmade woven bags.

In addition to bread, Duni also sells fresh chutney and spices, and has plans to expand its local and organic food offerings.
In addition to bread, Duni also sells fresh chutney and spices, and has plans to expand its  local and organic food offerings.

With such exceptional quality, we were expecting Duni to be out of our price range. Not so. We were pleased to find that breakfast at Duni fit perfectly into our budget: A coffee, quarter-loaf of bread with cream cheese, and a cookie was 10.500 COP – roughly $3.50 USD. We returned the next day on our way back to Cartagena for a passion fruit juice, cinnamon roll, iced coffee, and a half loaf of bread to take with us on the road.

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Getting to Minca is an adventure in and of itself. From Cartagena, take a bus or collectivo to Santa Marta – we recommend air-conditioned Berlinasur, 40.000 COP per person (about $14) which you can pick up at the Marbella estacion (just ask any taxi driver). From Santa Marta, any form of transportation can get you the 45 minutes to Minca – collectivo, taxi, or public bus, prices vary. We took a public bus from Estacion Minca, at Carrera 11 y Calle 12 in the Centro area of Santa Marta for 8.000 COP per person (about $3). You will get dropped off in the center of town. To find Duni, simply walk to the Iglesia – it’s in the center of the tiny town, or just ask anyone to point you in the right direction – and turn left after you walk past the iglesia. Duni is just up the small path.

Ordering artisinal bread at Duni, a bakery in tiny Minca, Colombia.
Jeremy at the counter of Duni

To round out a terrific day trip to Minca, hike to La Finca Victoria, the local coffee and chocolate farm. To find the farm, from the main junction in town, turn left (as though you’re returning to Santa Marta), walk over a bridge and pass the police station, and then take the first right. Walk for about an hour and a half to the farm. After a tour and a tasting, take a mototaxi or hike back. We also recommend lengthening your stay in Minca: we slept at picturesque Casa Loma Minca. Find loads of activities and information at their website. Minca is off the beaten path, but well worth a trip while exploring the Caribbean coast of Colombia!

 

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The smell of fresh baked bread and lush, rich chocolate wafts through the air at Duni, an artisinal bakery in the tiny mountain town of Minca, Colombia.

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