Colombian coffee is, without a doubt, one of the most valued in the world. Many connoisseurs consider it the best coffee in the world. Whether we are experts in this infusion or simply humble amateurs, this Latin American country is always present when talking about coffee.
In fact, Colombia is the largest coffee producer in the world since the 20s. So much so, that the European Union granted it the protected geographical indication on September 27, 2007. This indication was given to 100% Arabica soft coffee grown in the coffee plantations of Colombia.
Currently, Colombia produces approximately 12,6 million bags annually. Although there was a time when that figure was 14 million. The main importers of Colombian coffee are the United States, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
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Properties of Colombian Coffee infusion
Colombian coffee has its own distinctive character, easily recognizable by coffee specialists. Its aroma, taste, and texture are a unique sensory experience, which has been praised all over the world. Let’s see what are extraordinary properties that have made it a benchmark in the sector.
The aroma of Colombian coffee
These grains are recognizable by having a sweet and caramel aroma, with certain notes of coconut. Its fragrance is very pronounced, due to a perfect symbiosis of the factors that facilitate its cultivation.
Taste and texture of Colombian coffee
Another of the most recognizable aspects of this coffee is for being one of the most pleasant and soft to the palate.
It has a complex flavor, which makes it very appreciated by coffee lovers. You can distinguish a sweet and fruity flavor, with notes that remind us of citrus and with light hints of walnut. Its body is balanced and with a high level of acidity.
As you can imagine, all this tasting becomes a very attractive experience for the senses.
Characteristics of Colombian coffee
For Colombian coffee to reach its outstanding quality, it needs very specific characteristics for optimal development.
Temperature and climate
As in any crop, the development of plants varies greatly depending on the climate and temperature in which they develop.
Therefore, it is known that the ideal temperature for Colombian grains is between 18º and 24º on average. These temperatures are easily found in the Colombian mountains, which exceed 5,000 meters in height.
The temperature variations are quite constant throughout the year, and therefore allow to generate optimal levels of sugars and other compounds. These factors favor the development of the fruit, ensuring a balanced body and obtaining a correct level of acidity.
Colombian coffee is grown mainly on the slopes of the three branches of the Andes Mountains and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. This means that coffee plantations run through the country from North to South. Although for practical purposes, the area destined for cultivation and harvesting occupies between 850,000 and 900,000 hectares.
Soil of the crop
Another of the most important factors in the development of the Colombian coffee bean is the soil in which the plant develops its roots.
Unlike other producing countries, the soils of the Colombian mountains have a wide variety of typologies.
One of its main characteristics is that they mostly come from volcanic ash, so they are very rich in organic matter and minerals. This gives it very good physical conditions and significantly reduces the need for fertilizers. This makes it possible for the soil to be extremely fertile and does not require adding other elements such as Zinc or Boron.
In the three branches of the Andes Mountains, soils of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary origin are found. In addition, the soil varies from sandy and stony to clayey. On the other hand, the terrain can be flat, slightly undulating or totally abrupt. The first two are the most used for cultivation.
To grow coffee, good soil aeration is essential. This quality allows the plant to absorb all the necessary nutrients. That is when the structure of the soil becomes especially important. In the case of the Colombian coffee zone, its structure allows the organic material to slowly decompose.
Other characteristics that favor the growth of Colombian coffee are low acidic soils that retain moisture correctly.
Amount of water needed
The amount of water from the rains is very important for the cultivation of coffee. Thanks to its location, Colombia is under the influence of the Amazon, the inter-Andean valleys, and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
All these geographical elements favor the appearance of humid areas and with constant and regular rains, manifested in different types of climates, which allows very favorable conditions for coffee.
In Colombia, there is a climatic phenomenon that does not occur in the rest of the coffee-producing areas. The ZCIT, Intertropical Confluence Zone, is a confluence of trade winds from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. This phenomenon provides two large rainy seasons a year in the center of the country. The months of greatest rainfall are from April to May and from October to November.
By passing the ZCIT twice through the coffee zone, together with the different reliefs of the land, the distribution of the amounts of rain is favored to complete the cultivation cycle.
Appellations of origin
Colombian coffee is not a unique and exclusive product, in fact, there are several types. Each variety has different characteristics from the rest depending on its origin. In addition, some of them also have denominations of origin.
The designation of origin is a certificate of provenance, which is normally applied to agricultural foodstuffs. This indication helps us to distinguish one product from another similar one. And it’s a way to secure and protect, the unique and quality characteristics of those products.
Colombian Amazonian coffee is grown in Caquetá and Putumayo. Both regions are located in the southeastern part of Colombia.
The coffee plantations are at the foot of the Amazon mountain, a forest reserve of great importance. This area can reach 500 meters above sea level. The reason for this location is its abundant biodiversity, landscapes, and natural water sources.
80% of the harvest is harvested in the second half of each year, while the rest is harvested between May and July. The average humidity is 80% and between 3,000 and 4,000 millimeters of rain are recorded annually.
Colombian Amazonian coffee has a mild flavor and very characteristic wild notes. Its aroma is slightly herbal and offers a medium-low acidity and a high body.
Coffee From the Antioquia Region
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The coffee of the Antioquia region is characterized by having a balanced cup profile. Its aroma is genuinely intense and treasures a slightly sweet and fruity herbal fragrance. While its acidity, at the same time as its body, remains at medium levels.
Antioquia is a region with a deep-rooted coffee tradition. For more than 180 years, their lands have given a product of enormous quality, which has become part of their culture.
Coffee Grown in Cauca
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The beans produced in Cauca are 100% Arabica coffee. From it, an infusion is extracted with a mild flavor with certain sweet and floral notes.
The coffee of this region has a clean cup profile and a high acidity. The overall impression is mostly balanced and has a medium body. To smell, you feel a strong aroma and at the same time caramelized, very characteristic of this coffee.
Colombian coffee from Cauca is grown mainly on small plots. Its collection and processing are carried out selectively on the same farms. The specific characteristics it possesses, are due to the fact that it receives a large number of hours of sunshine and enjoys a constant climate. It also has the protection of the mountains to protect it from the humidity and winds of the Pacific.
Cauca’s average height is 1,758 meters, while its median height is 1,781. As can be seen from these numbers, the region offers a fairly constant height. The balance of this drink owes its origin to the homogeneity of rainfall. These have an average of 2,069, and a median of 2,170 millimeters of water. The temperature, on the other hand, is between 12.3 and 12.5 degrees.
Cauca farmers grow coffee following a protocol and quality standards promoted by the National Federation of Coffee Growers. Which requested the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce, the protection of the Denomination of Origin Café de Cauca. This was awarded on August 10, 2011.
The Colombian coffee of Casanare is grown and collected mainly in Támara, on the slopes of the llanero foothills.
This area frequently reaches 1,160 meters in height, while its average temperature is 21º.
The environmental factors of this area of cultivation are the cause that the grains produced here tend to have a medium body and a low acidity. Similarly, Casanare coffee offers a sweet, caramel aroma, with certain notes of toasted walnut in its aroma.
Colombian Coffee Originally from Huila
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The original grains of Huila is of the Arabica variant. From it, a drink with very specific sensory characteristics is obtained.
Overall, the overall impression of this coffee is that it is very balanced. To taste, it has sweetened notes and acidity between medium and high, with a prominent body, but without excesses. This coffee also offers an intense aroma with fruity touches and a caramel fragrance.
To achieve this complexity of aromas and flavors, very specific climatic and geographical factors are necessary. For example, due to the cloudiness of the area, coffee trees only receive 3.5 hours of sunshine a day. This gives Huila coffee a very distinctive cup profile.
This coffee bean contains uniform cup characteristics. This is because temperatures, instead of cultivation, are constant throughout the day.
At the request of the National Federation of Coffee Growers, the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce declared the protection of Café de Huila and its Protected Designation of Origin on April 16, 2013.
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- Body: High
- Fragrance: Very intense
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This is one of the varieties with its own Denomination of Origin of Nariño. It is a 100% Arabica grain variant. One of the main characteristics of this coffee is that it is planted at high altitudes, mainly in mountainous areas.
This Colombian coffee has a fairly smooth cup profile. Its aroma is very pronounced, so it is easy to perceive smell. This variety is distinguished by having a fairly high acidity and maintaining a medium body. To taste, it offers very soft and exquisite citrus notes.
To achieve such a prized coffee, you need the unique conditions that exist in Nariño. This mountainous region has very pronounced abysses, which favors a colder climate. This condition forces the grain to ripen more slowly. This produces more sugars and results in its characteristic softness.
The secret of Nariño coffee is also found in the special combination of climatological factors in the region. These factors are about 1,666 hours of sunshine per year, 1,866 millimeters of rain per year, and soils very rich in organic matter.
To this, are added average temperatures of 19.9 Cº, with minimums of 16 Cº and maximums of 25.9 Cº. These factors are absolutely necessary to be able to produce coffee at 2,300 meters above sea level.
Producing a quality drink at this point is not easy. If it is achieved, it is thanks to the bottom of the canyons and valleys. Which store heat during the day and then expel it at night. In this way, the cold of the highest parts of the mountain is reduced.
The denomination of origin of Nariño coffee was granted on February 11, 2011.
Grown in Tolima
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At the heart of Colombia is the Tolima region, the country’s third-largest Colombian coffee producer. Of its 116,229 hectares of coffee plantations, 12% of all the national production of this drink comes out.
The coffee that is produced in Tolima, has a cup profile with a medium-low body. It offers a very particular medium and a medium-high level of acidity. To taste, Tolima coffee has a fresh, soft, and quite sweet taste. Likewise, there is also a fruity aftertaste with light notes of raspberry.
The aroma of Tolima coffee is very pronounced and has a fragrance of easy perception.
To get a coffee with so much personality, you need very specific topographical and geographical characteristics.
In the production area, there are heights ranging from 1,300 to 1,700 meters. Normally, the harvest of the South zone is done between March and June. While in the North Zone, it goes from September to December.
The coffee tree of Tolima likes a sun exposure, of 92% of the total daily hours, with average temperatures of 22 Cº. For proper cultivation, between 2,000 and 3,000 millimeters of rain is required.
History of Colombian coffee: The Best Coffee in the World
We’ve all heard of Colombian coffee, but how much do you know about its past? This café has a long history, dating back to the early eighteenth century.
Origins of cultivation in Colombia
There is speculation about his arrival in Colombia. Some say that the Jesuits brought it in 1730. Other indications suggest that it was a traveler from Guyana, who introduced him through Venezuela.
The first written testimony was from the Jesuit priest José Gumilla. In his book, El Orinoco Ilustrado,1730, he tells how he saw the first coffee infusions in the mission of Santa Teresa de Tabajé, near the mouth of the Meta River in the Orinoquía.
The second written mention about coffee in Colombia was made by archbishop-viceroy Caballero y Góngora. Who told the Spanish authorities, the existence of crops in the regions of Santander and Boyacá.
Beginnings of its commercialization
Now let’s take a time jump to the date when Colombian coffee began to be commercially grown. This was in 1835 in Salazar de las Palmas, in norte de Santander. There the priest Francisco Romero imposed on his parishioners the penance of planting coffee. As they say, this was a great boost for the cultivation of coffee in this area of the country. The foundations of what years later would be one of the references of world coffee production were already planted.
When was it consolidated as an export product? This would not occur until the second half of the nineteenth century. The global economic expansion of that period brought under the arm a golden opportunity for Colombian landowners. At that time, exports were made specially to North America, Germany, and France.
In the 60s of the nineteenth century, coffee made its first appearance in bags. This led to it becoming the most important asset for the producing countries. Although it was not until the 90s that Colombia became an exporter and product worldwide.
Colombian coffee crisis
During the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, two important events occurred that left the large coffee-producing haciendas in crisis. On the one hand, there was a huge drop in prices in the international market. Which plummeted the profitability and economy of these farms.
The second blow was the start of the Thousand Days War. Whose conflict made it impossible to maintain the plantations correctly. This ended up ruining the landowners and indebted them to the rest of the world.
The crisis of the haciendas empowered the small farmers, and in 1875 began to increase their number. Shortly after, during the first decade of the twentieth century, a new model of coffee export was consolidated.
These facts made it easier for coffee cultivation to become an ideal option for small landowners. Even today, this economy of family labor and small rural plots continues to persist vigorously.
In 1960, Colombia was already the second-largest producer in the world, second only to Brazil. At that time, Colombia had 891,547 hectares cultivated, producing 578,041 tons of coffee.
However, Latin coffee-producing countries began to live through difficult times. In those years, several regions of Africa began to produce at very low costs. It was then that a global pact between the coffee countries took place. The objective was to regulate production and thus avoid a fall in prices around the world. Unfortunately, this pact was broken at the end of the 80s, producing a period of serious imbalances in grain prices.
Another unfortunate event for Colombian cultivation occurred in 1999, as the main production areas were devastated by a strong earthquake. Although that same year, 3.7% of Colombian GDP and 37% of agricultural employment came from coffee. To respond to domestic and partly external demand in 2000, Colombia had to import coffee beans due to the poor harvest of previous years.
Colombian National Federation of Coffee Growers
In 1921, in the city of Bogotá, the first congress of Colombian coffee producers took place. During the second congress, which was held in Medellín in 1927, the Growers was constituted.
The main purpose of this association is to represent these farmers nationally and internationally and to look after their interests and those of their families. Today, it is one of the largest rural NGOs on the planet.
Since its creation, this organization has worked to ensure a sustainable business, give communities more social fabric, and facilitate a technification of processes. In addition to promoting development programs in the zones, regulating exports, and ensuring fair prices in the global market.
The National Federation of Coffee Growers represents more than 540,000 families dedicated to coffee cultivation. Thanks to its union structure, this association gave common tools to farmers, to achieve an efficient dialogue with the government and thus help common development from the grassroots.
In 2005, the Colombian government, together with that organization, granted the status of Denomination of Origin to the product. Subsequently, on September 27, 2007, the European Union granted the Protected Geographical Indication to Colombian Coffee.
Have we solved your doubts about Colombian coffee? We sincerely hope so, so if you think it may be of interest to other people, we encourage you to share it. And of course, we are always open to any kind of feedback, so we look forward to your feedback. Greetings 🙂
Last update on 2022-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API