You’d think that a major reason why Colombian coffee is widely celebrated is that the country has just the right growing conditions for producing coffee - an apt climate, great soil texture, sufficient rainfall, and high-altitude terrains.
But that’s not the full picture.
Colombian coffees have a long history of being one of the most high-quality coffees grown and distributed around the world.
This is largely owing to the fact that the hundreds of thousands of coffee producers in Colombia take meticulous care in harvesting the coffee. Each coffee bean is handpicked, ensuring only the right coffee cherries are selected for processing.
With such attention to detail and dedication, it’s no surprise that Colombia ranks in the top 5 coffee-producing countries in the world, exporting over 12 million bags of coffee annually.
When Jesuit priests accompanied Spanish settlers to Colombia, they brought coffee beans into the country. Before long, it is said that the imperial forces nudged Colombians into growing coffee on fincas (small, family-owned estates).
It was in the early 1800s that the first global exports of coffee began. With coffee consumption increasing in the USA and Europe, the demand fueled the momentum of coffee production in Colombia.
Although the country’s coffee farmers bore the brunt of political turbulence and international coffee price fluctuations, the coffees coming out of Colombia had wormed their way into the hearts of people.
The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia was founded in 1972. This organisation acts as a support system to Colombian coffee farmers and empowers them to export their coffees internationally.
Here’s where things get interesting. In the 20th century, there was widespread use of Colombian coffee beans to create blends so that these coffees could then be sold as Colombian coffees.
To remedy the problem, the federation launched an ad campaign with a fictional character called Juan Valdez.
Their agenda was to ensure that only genuine Colombian coffees would have the figure of Juan Valdez on the packaging. This campaign became a roaring success and is still remembered as a pivotal moment in Colombia’s coffee history.
It is said that over 2.2 million of the local population is dependent on the coffee trade. You can see just how much Colombia's coffee market provides employment opportunities to its residents.
In 2011, 18 settlements across the coffee-growing belt in Colombia were marked in the UNESCO World Heritage list as the Coffee Cultural Landscape.
In Colombia, coffee is something to be savoured and not gulped down first thing in the morning.
They consume coffee in small cups. It is a form of black coffee called tinto, which is prepared using a cloth filter in a pour-over brewing style. There’s also a version of the tinto where the black coffee is sweetened with panela (whole cane sugar).
If it wasn’t evident already, Colombians take their coffee culture very seriously.
Why else would they have entire museums and amusement parks dedicated to coffee? The Parque del Café (Coffee Park) boasts a coffee show and several exhibits that help audiences understand the country’s coffee history. Visitors can also take walks through coffee plantations and have a visual glimpse of the entire coffee processing system.
Coffee is grown in many regions spread all over Colombia.
The heart of the country, i.e. the Coffee Cultural Landscape contributes to a significant percentage of coffee exported internationally. It is at the centre of the nation where places such as Quindio and Caldas are located. These coffees tend to carry a chocolatey-nutty taste with subtle acidity.
The northern regions of Colombia (Santander, Magdalena, etc.) is where you’ll find full-bodied coffees with intricate flavour notes.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for coffees with bright acidity and a floral flavour profile, you should know that coffee farms in the southern parts of the country grow such coffees.
The typical attributes of Colombian coffee are that it is washed-processed and has a sweet flavour profile with a rich but mild aroma. This is what makes Colombian coffees a crowd favourite.
This South American country that solely grows 100% Arabica beans should be a stop in your global coffee adventures.
At Beancraft, we have a single origin from Colombia called Pitalito. It has notes of cherry, lemon, and chocolate. This medium-bodied coffee is sourced from the Huila region in Colombia.