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Conchita the Mule – Juan Valdez’s Iconic Coffee Animal

Juan Valdez and Conchita’s mule have become one of the most recognized advertising symbols in the world. Juan Valdez represents the small coffee farmer who transports goods such as coffee, corn, wheat or fruit with the help of a herd of animals such as mules, donkeys and horses.

What is a mule anyway?

  • The mule is a cross between a donkey stallion, also called a jack, and a mare.
  • Hinnies are a cross between a stallion horse and the jennet or “jenny” donkey.
  • Hinnies and mules are classified under the term Mule.
  • It can be male or female. They are sterile and cannot reproduce.
  • Mules have smaller ears than donkeys.
  • Mules tend to be longer and shaped like their horse parents.
  • The head, hip and legs usually get after the jack.
  • Mules have fine front hair, coarse mane hair and tail like their horse parent.

Why were mules the traditional animal in the coffee mountains of Colombia?

  • Mules are excellent work animals.
  • They are well adapted to the difficult soil of the coffee growing regions of Colombia.
  • Roads are not available in many of these remote areas.
  • By nature, mules do not put themselves in danger.
  • They have a way of telling people when something is wrong, a valuable instinct in the highlands.
  • Mules are very intelligent and do everything they can for their owners.
  • Although mules are working animals, they become part of the families that own them.
  • Without mules, coffee farmers in these remote areas cannot transport their goods and make a living.
  • Coffee farmers spend a lot of time alone with their mules working on the farm. It is very common to see farmers petting and caring for their mules.
  • The mule becomes a coffee grower’s best friend. There is a strong bond between human and animal for mutual security and independence.
  • So it is very fitting for the iconic image of Colombian coffee to have a coffee farmer with his mule.

Who is Conchita?

  • Conchita is Juan Valdez’s mule, perhaps the most pampered and famous mule in the world.
  • The mule twitches ears and welcomes a sugar cube or two to events.
  • Conchita lives a privileged life, walking the carpets at events. She is a crowd pleaser.
  • Conchita is Colombia’s coffee mascot. It adds emotional appeal to the iconic image of the smoothest, richest coffee in the world.

Sometimes Juan Valdez performs without Conchita. When this happens, he travels with a professional folkloric dance group wearing all the beautiful and colorful clothes of specific regions of Colombia.

Personally, I prefer to see Juan Valdez with Conchita. There is something very special about tradition, especially when the coffee maker and his mule travel the world on behalf of hundreds of thousands of coffee farmers back home.

If you want to meet Juan Valdez in person and take a picture with Conchita, check out his travel itinerary. Who knows? He may be touring a major city near you.

  • You might just spot him on a street near a major intersection or a public event with Conchita walking by his side.
  • If you like this, go to: http://www.whatsbehindthebest.com/tourmap.html

For now, how about enjoying a cup of organic Colombian Supremo?

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