Colombia is set to produce 14.1 million bags of coffee this season. That’s 846 million kilograms of Colombian coffee beans to perk you up. Colombia earns its place as the third-largest coffee producer in the world.
Imagine that uplifting aroma tingling your senses. Taste that well-rounded flavor Colombian coffee imparts. Savor the comfort of that first sup.
Your Colombian coffee beans traveled thousands of miles to reach your lips. Hundreds of years of history, cultivation methods, and hard work gave you that cup.
Few people think about the details of Colombian coffee. But a little knowledge helps you choose the best and savor it like a Colombian connoisseur.
When did Colombian coffee cultivation start? How does Colombia produce it? What varieties of Colombian coffee can you find?
We have a guide that tells you everything you need to know. Take a seat in your armchair, pour yourself a cup, and let’s go to Colombian coffee school.
History of Colombian Coffee
Over 300 years of history led to Colombia’s pride of place on the global coffee stage. But how did coffee arrive in Colombia?
Origins of Colombian Coffee
The first coffee we humans sipped was Ethiopian arabica in the 13th century. There is evidence of coffee consumption in 15th-century Yemeni Sufi monasteries too. By the 16th century, most of the Middle East enjoyed a cup.
From the Middle East to Europe
Arabian traders brought coffee Arabica to Europe in the mid-16th century. Turkey and Italy were their first stops.
In the 18th century, Dutch explorers took coffee plants to South America on their ships. Coffee was the main trade of the Netherlands during this period.
Coffee Arrives in South America
Once on the continent, coffee cultivation spread via Suriname to Colombia and Brazil. Today, Brazil and Colombia are the first and third largest coffee producers in the world.
Coffee cultivation in Colombia owes a debt to a Jesuit Preist, Francisco Romero. As a Catholic society, many Colombians went to confession to repent for past sins. Rumour has it Romero imposed coffee sowing as a form of penance.
A Boost in Colombian Coffee Production
It must have worked. Colombia’s coffee cultivation hit new heights and kept rising. In 1835, Colombia exported its first bags of Colombian coffee beans to the USA.
Take a Sip of Colombian Coffee Culture
In Colombia’s Coffee Axis region, central Colombia, coffee is part of life. Colombian culture thrives in its coffee houses. They are meeting places, social hotspots, and pick-me-ups to start the day.
Colombian coffee houses rely on local producers. They sell the freshest coffee you can imagine. Think small farms and street-side roasters.
Imagine a bustling trade accented by the aroma of fresh Colombian coffee.
Colombian coffee houses teach baristas, producers, and roasters the tricks of the trade. Some work like community colleges specialized in Colombian coffee.
Craving a taste of the rustic? Traditional Colombian coffee houses have you covered.
You can even buy a cup from a street vendor. Sip it on the move.
Colombian Coffee Today
Colombia produced 12.6 million 132lb bags of coffee beans in 2021, 9% less than in 2020. This was due to pandemic restrictions, roadblocks, and weather conditions. But Colombia’s coffee cultivation is still growing strong.
Agricultural Minister Rodolfo Zea said he expected a 5% increase in Colombian coffee production in 2022.
Colombian coffee is in international demand. Japan is the second-largest importer of Colombian Coffee in the World.
The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) teaches Quality Control to Japanese baristas. When the World’s 3rd largest economy takes an interest, you know Colombian coffee is the real deal.
Colombian Coffee Bean Growing Regions
There are 22 coffee-growing regions in Colombia. The central and southern areas of Colombia have the most coffee farms. The northern areas produce organic coffee on an artisanal scale.
The epicenter of Colombian coffee is Colombia’s Coffee Axis region. This stretches across the central areas of Quindio, Risaradalda, and Caldas. In order, the capitals are Armenia, Pereira, and Manizales.
Coffee culture in these cities is next-level, and a visit to this region is a dream trip for any coffee lover. In 2011, the Coffee Axis achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Coffee celebrations ensued.
Colombian Coffee Growing, Harvesting, Roasting
Hundreds of years of experience have taught Colombia’s coffee producers their methods. The way Colombia grows, processes, and roasts its coffee all affect the taste in your cup. Here’s how they do it.
Sowing and Growing
Arabica is the Colombian coffee bean of choice. Arabica coffee suits the country’s elevation, frequent rainfall, and volcanic earth. Most coffee plantations are 2,953 to 6,562 feet above sea level.
Most plantations are small, family-run ventures. With an average plantation size of 4.5 hectares, farmers attend to each coffee plant. This is a key reason why people love Colombian coffee worldwide.
Farmers sow Colombian coffee seeds on steep slopes. Banana and tall-growing vegetation shelter the coffee plants from direct sunlight. And the humid breeze drifting up the mountain aerates them.
In Colombia, there are 2 single-origin harvests a year.
Colombian coffee plants flower, then start to produce fruit or coffee cherries. These turn green, then darken to a reddish hue.
Farmers wait until each fruit is at prime ripeness, as early or late picking can affect the flavor. Pickers harvest by hand: hard work in the hillside sun. But the result is quality coffee.
Farmers then wet-process the fruit to extract the coffee seeds or coffee beans. To do this they remove the fruit’s skin and pulp.
They then soak the coffee beans, sort by quality, and ferment them for 12-24 hours. Most farmers dry Colombian coffee beans in the sun. Some modern plantations use equipment to speed up the process.
Plantations ship most of their green Colombian coffee beans to overseas roasters. They travel well and can move huge distances without losing quality.
Once the beans arrive, roasters turn up the heat to around 752 degrees Fahrenheit. The roast determines flavor, body, acidity, and caffeine content. Roasters time this to a scientific degree.
Serious coffee roasters use state-of-the-art equipment like the zero-emission Bellwether Roaster. This preserves traditional roasting processes while adding modern-day precision.
Varieties of Colombian Coffee Beans
Colombia grows arabica almost without exception. Arabica is the most popular coffee bean in the world. It is smoother, less bitter, and has less caffeine than robusta.
It can retail at double the price, and it is the enthusiast’s go-to coffee. There are several types of arabica Colombian coffee beans.
This was the first coffee bean farmers grew in Colombia. Its plant is tall, with lanky stems. Its cherries are long and narrow.
Yields can be lower than other varieties. But Typica produces top-quality coffee beans with complex flavors.
Caturra is a small coffee plant, related to the Bourbon. It has a squat look with wide branches and dense clusters of coffee cherries.
Its size makes it ideal for small plantations. Farmers can group plants together for high yields.
Bourbon coffee plants have higher yields than Caturra. Their branches are close-set to their stems.
Colombia seldom grows it in quantity due to its small cherries. But experts enjoy its semi-sweet flavor.
A cross of Typica, Bourbon, and Timor hybrid, Tabi is a tall plant with far-reaching branches. It is rust-resistance and provides top-quality coffee beans. It earns its Guambiano name, Tabi, or good in English.
Cenicafé cultivated Castillo to resist the coffee-rust disease plaguing the industry. Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) used Castillo for Colombia sin Roya. In English, this means Colombia without rust.
It produces high yields, large beans, and is the most common coffee plant in Colombia. A fine example of Colombian coffee innovation.
Variedad Colombia has been a Cenicafé coffee of choice since 1983. It combines rust-resistant Caturra and Timor hybrid plants. And it produces high yields of outstanding Colombian coffee beans.
Colombian Coffee Blends
To maximize flavor, coffee blends combine beans from many varieties. The result is complex flavor profiles and unique character single-origin coffee misses. Blends are a party in your cup.
Colombia Tolima is a blend of over 85 beans from the Tolima region. Tolima is high up at 4,921 – 6,234 feet. Light roasted, its beans have notes of berries, cherries, and smooth caramel.
Paradeco Coffee Roasters ship their Tolima coffee from the farm to the roaster in 10 to 14 days. You will struggle to find fresher coffee, and you can taste the mountains of Colombia in each cup.
What Is Special about Colombian Coffee Beans?
Coffee lovers revere Colombian coffee brands for their well-rounded taste, quality, and reputation.
Let’s take a look at what flavors Colombia coffee brings to our coffee cups.
Flavor Profiles of Colombian Coffee
Central regions produce fruity, herbaceous Colombian coffee beans. The South lifts your palette with citrusy tones. Northern Colombian coffee has earthy, nutty, chocolate notes.
The Secret Is in the Roast
The roast of the bean has a huge impact on the flavor.
Dark roasts are less acidic, more bitter, and have a stronger aftertaste. Lighter roasts keep their beans’ fruit notes and acidity. You can savor a 50/50 flavor with mid-roasts.
Colombian coffee brands favor dark or light roasts depending on their target market. Certain countries prefer dark to light and vice versa. But Colombian coffee brands offer arabica coffee to suit a variety of palettes.
Have a Taste for Central and South American Coffee?
Guatemalan coffee offers well-balanced flavor profiles, accented with fruity sweetness. If you enjoy Colombian coffee, you should try Guatemalan coffee.
Take a sip alongside your favorite Colombian coffee. Explore a continent’s finest coffee beans from your armchair.
How to Brew Colombian Coffee
How you brew your coffee influences its final flavor. To enjoy your coffee at its best, grind it seconds before you brew it.
The Pour Over
Pour overs lift the acidity and flavor of your Colombian coffee. It is simple but gives delicious results.
French Presses suit dark roasts. They extract the full flavor from your Colombian coffee beans. But brewing them for too long can give you a bitter cup of coffee.
Is It Cold in Here?
Cold brews give maximum body, sweet notes, and flavor. For those with time on their hands, cold brews suit Colombian coffee brands. If you’re new to cold brews, give them a try.
Want more Colombian coffee brew styles? Check out Paradeco Coffee Roasters’ brew guides page.
How to Taste Colombian Coffee
Coffee profiles comprise aroma, flavor, acidity, body, and aftertaste. Here’s how to savor them.
Once you have your cup of Colombian coffee, smell its aroma, note all the scents you can pick out. Note them down if you want to act like a pro.
Take a small sip. Swirl it around. Note how the first flavors give way to later flavors the longer your taste them.
Acidity translates to mouthfeel and brightness. It affects how sweet or sour your coffee tastes. Some coffees can taste oily, tart, dry, or sweet.
High-acidity tends to bring out fruit, sweet, sour notes. Lower-acidity draws out the earthy, smokey flavors in your Colombian coffee.
The body of your coffee is how it feels in your mouth. Light-bodied coffees are watery, silky, and well, light. Full-bodies coffees are viscous, syrupy, and full.
Dark roasts tend to have stronger aftertastes. They leave behind smokey, spicy, earthy flavors. Light roasts have less aftertaste, but the choice is a personal preference.
The coffee tasting industry has all the complexity of wine tasting. Give your next cup of Colombian coffee the attention it deserves.
Where to Buy the Best Colombian Coffee?
We hope you enjoyed our guide to Colombian coffee. Colombia grows some of the finest coffee in the world, and all coffee lovers should give it a try.
Looking for sustainably sourced Colombian coffee brands in Florida? Visit Paradeco Coffee Roasters in St. Petersberg, Florida. Or check out our online store for our range of Colombian, Guatemalan, and Ethiopian coffee.
We are proud members of The Speciality Coffee Association. We sell Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee roasted onsite by our team.
Eager to brew your next cup of Colombian coffee? We offer monthly coffee subscriptions and single purchases. Get in touch today.