Columbian Coffee: Taste, Plantation, Best Products
Colombian coffee is one of the most famous and sought after coffee types across the globe, and many coffee lovers prefer it over many others due to its delicious taste and superior overall quality. Also, the country is the 3rd largest coffee producer and exporter globally coming second only to Brazil and Vietnam. However, for the Arabic coffee varietal, it is the world's largest producer.
There are several things that make Colombian coffee special and they range from the growing conditions to the careful varietal selections and how everything from the harvesting to post-harvest coffee bean sorting and handling is done.
For all those coffee lovers out there that are always on the hunt for the best Colombian coffee, this piece is for you. Here we highlight the key things that make Colombian coffee special and also showcase some of the best brands you can currently get on the market.
Flavor Profile – Although Colombian coffee comes in several varietals from different growing areas and hence is available in different flavor profiles, there are still certain flavor characteristics that stand out.
Most of Colombian coffee is well-balanced and with a medium and slightly silky body that always provides a clean cup of coffee. And the acidity levels tend to be anywhere between medium and high given the growing conditions, and this yields a brighter and more lively brew.
Aroma – While there are different factors that will determine the coffee aroma that you get, with Colombian coffee you can always be certain of an unmistakable mild but amazingly rich aroma that will always rise up from every cup of coffee regardless of the brewing method. Coffee lovers also often describe Colombian coffee's aroma as a sweet caramel with a hint of cocoa
Dark Roasting – Another thing that makes Colombian coffee special is that the beans can be roasted dark without giving the coffee an overly bitter taste. What all this means is that Colombian coffee is one of the best for brewing espressos.
History of Planting Colombian Coffee
No one can say with certainty when coffee came to Colombia because there are different accounts of when and how plus there are no accurate records that provide reliable information.
However, most coffee enthusiasts and historians agree that the first coffee beans were brought to Colombia by Jesuit priests in the 17th century (around 1723). But, it was not until 1835 that Colombia first exported its coffee which was about 2,500 pounds of coffee beans that were shipped to the USA.
The real turning point of Colombian coffee and what many coffee historians credit with modern success was the formation of the Colombia Coffee Growers Federation in 1927. The federation made the sector more well-organized and championed for farmers rights which motivated more people to venture in coffee farming. And by the 1930s Colombia was the second largest coffee in the world coming second only to Brazil.
From there on like any other industry, the coffee growing sector in Colombia has had both good and bad times with periods of growth and dip in coffee production and prices. But, despite the challenges, the industry is still thriving hundreds of years later.
Colombia has one of the best coffee growing areas in the world. And coffee is grown both in large farms and by small scale farmers which make up the majority of the coffee growers in the country.
There are two main coffee growing areas in Colombia which are the slopes of the Andes Mountain that cut across the country and the highlands of Sierra Nevada.
Both coffee growing areas have a high elevation with most areas going up to 6,400 feet in elevation and they also have fertile volcanic soils that are excellent for coffee growth. Also, the coffee is mostly grown under tree and banana plant shade and with a temperature range of between 8 and 24 degrees Celsius.
There is a total of 940,000 hectares of coffee plantations in Colombia and with two harvest seasons which are April to June and September to December.
Colombian Coffee Varietals
While Colombia is the only major coffee growing country that produces 100% Arabica beans, their coffee is available in several varietals. The most common of their coffee varietals are Typica, Cattura, Colombia, Castillo, and Bourbon.
Typica was one of the first coffee varietals introduced to Colombia and most other coffee growing regions. It originates from Yemen and its most distinctive traits are its long stems and conical shape which are the cause of its low yields.
With this varietal, you get bold and long fruits and although it was mostly replaced with Cattura in the 1970s, it still makes up 25% of the total coffee plants in Colombia.
Cattura is a natural mutation of Bourbon coffee and it was initially discovered in Brazil. This coffee varietal is often considered as a smaller Bourbon due to its shorter height and the fact that it has more secondary branches that are more closely spaced.
But, it is these characteristics that give it a high yield as you can get more beans in the same space when compared to others like Typica, and you can have more trees per hectare to increase the production further. This varietal was introduced in Colombia in the 1950s and now makes up 45% of the coffee trees in the country.
As the name suggests, this coffee varietal is more indigenous to Colombia, and it was created by crossing the Timor Hybrid with Cattura. This coffee varietal is more productive than many other varietals and many coffee farmers love it as it is more resistant to the problematic coffee rust.
This coffee varietal was introduced in 1982 and unlike others like the Catimor, it is a compound variety with many progenies. And in some coffee growing areas in Colombia, it is the most dominant varietal.
Castillo might not be as common or popular as the other three above, but it is still quite a widely grown coffee varietal in Colombia. It is one of the newest varietals and was introduced by Cenicafe and like the Colombia varietal, it is a compound variety.
This coffee has been specifically tailored to adapt to the growing conditions in Colombia, and it is highly productive when grown in most of the country's main coffee growing areas. Better yet, this varietal is also highly resistant to coffee rust.
The last varietal is Bourbon which is named after the French Island where it originates. And it is a natural mutation of Typica with a less conical shape given the smaller angle between branches and stem.
Bourbon also features more secondary branches which are also more closely spaced and this, in turn, makes it at least 20% more productive than the traditional Typica variety. The fruits are smaller and denser and while it replaced Typica in most of Brazil and Central America, the smaller fruit size has made it less popular in Colombia.
How is It Roasted?
You can roast your coffee beans how you like as it always boils down to your tastes and preferences. However, like with any other coffee beans type, there is always a more preferred method of roasting Colombian coffee to get the best coffee flavors.
And one of the best traits of the Colombian coffee is the ability to take a variety of roasts well without affecting the quality of the brew. But medium to dark and light roasts bring out the best of these coffee beans.
Medium to Dark Roast – If you want to bring out a more intense flavor from your Colombian coffee beans and give your brew a rich aroma, a medium to dark roast is your best bet. With this roast, the coffee remains acidic but the fruitiness will be more muted and sweeter cocoa flavors will be more prominent.
Light Roasts – For the coffee lovers that want to highlight the bright acidic and the citrus fruit undertones in Colombian coffee, a light roast is perfect. This roast will also help to bring out the caramel and cocoa flavors.
Best Ways to Brew Colombian Coffee
You can brew your Colombian coffee beans any way you like and still end up with an amazing brew provided you get the roast and grind right. However, many coffee baristas and sommelier will agree that espresso and Aeropress offer the best ways to brew Colombian coffee.
What makes Colombian coffee good for espresso is the fact that it is mild in flavor and high in acidity. You can roast them to a dark roast which is perfect for espresso and brews that are super strong without ending up with a super bitter taste. Also, the high acidity means the coffee will blend well with milk for espresso-based beverages like cafe lattes and cappuccinos.
With Aeropress on the other hand, you benefit from the smooth and well-balanced taste and full-bodied mouthfeel that these beans have to offer.
Summary of Facts about Colombian Coffee
1. Colombia is the only coffee producing country in the world with two harvest seasons
2. The country exports more than 10 million 130-pound bags of coffee every year
3. It is the 3rd largest coffee exporter and largest 100% Arabica coffee producer
4. Colombia exports more than 88% of the coffee it produces
5. At least 600,000 farmers in Colombia are involved in coffee farming
6. The total coffee farming area is around 940,000 hectares
7. Most of the coffee produced is processed through the wash method
8. Their coffee is grown on mountainside farms that are between 1,200 and 2,000 meters above sea level
8 Best Colombian Coffee Options
1. Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Colombian Coffee
With a mild, sweet and rich flavor, this Colombian coffee from Café Don Pablo will ensure that every cup of coffee you make is unforgettable. Better yet, the coffee also has that distinctive smooth cocoa tone finish that is characteristic of traditional Colombian coffee.
These coffee beans have a medium body and with low acidity to make them ideal even for coffee lovers that prefer their brews less strong. And the medium dark roast makes these beans ideal for most coffee brewing methods including espressos.
Many coffee drinkers will also be happy to know that these beans are completely GMO-free and that they are roasted in small batches to ensure you always get fresh coffee.
Jo Coffee offers this organic Colombian coffee for coffee lovers looking to save some cash on their coffee purchase and still get top grade coffee beans. The beans are USDA certified to give buyers some quality assurances and they are completely non-GMO and gluten-free.
Also, with these coffee beans, you get a medium roast that guarantees maximum flavor and aroma is preserved. While they are perfect for immersion brewing methods like the French press, you can still use them with almost any other coffee making method.
These coffee beans are 100% Arabica and with all natural flavors and taste with no artificial flavors added to ensure a refreshing and all-natural brew.
For a 3-pound pack, this Kirkland Signature coffee also offers great value for money, and there is also lots of coffee on the pack to make dozens of cups.
But, besides value for money, these coffee beans are 100% Colombian coffee to ensure you get top-notch quality coffee and they come as whole beans that are pre-roasted just before packaging to ensure maximum freshness.
What truly sets these coffee beans apart from others is that they offer unparalleled and more robust flavors, an amazing aroma and a unique taste that is hard to match with regular Colombian coffee brands.
Besides choosing the best Colombian coffee beans, Fresh Roasted Coffee also uses a more efficient modern roasting process to ensure these beans will be the best quality.
These are French roasted beans and the roasting takes place in a more environment-friendly roaster and the coffee is medium roasted to preserve flavors and aromas and also to make it ideal for a variety of brewing methods.
As for the flavors, this coffee is more balanced and with notes of honey and cherry. Generally, this is a bold and more flavorful coffee that is single sourced from 100% Arabica beans, and with no additives or artificial flavors.
If you want something that will always awaken your taste buds every morning, this is the best Colombian coffee for you as the intense and impressive flavors are built exactly for this. And Juan Valdez guarantees that every coffee bean used is genuine Colombian coffee.
The fragrance is also very intense and hard to miss whether you are using a cold or hot coffee brewing method. Also, this coffee has the flavor notes to go with it as it is an intense coffee with dark chocolate and sweet caramel notes.
With its low acidity, this coffee will also be ideal for both seasoned and inexperienced coffee drinkers, and its medium to high roasting ensures you get an imposing dry and unsweetened character that the palate will always sense immediately.
Volcanica Coffee is one of the best Colombia coffee brands, and this fact alone should give you some confidence that this particular coffee will be fantastic even before you drink it.
Besides being a product from a trustworthy brand, this Peaberry coffee is made with some of the rarest Colombian coffee beans for a truly unique and intense flavor. And the beans come in a medium roast which is ideal for the majority of coffee lovers.
With this coffee, you also get soft flavors with a hint of cherry-chocolate, walnut, and malt. Also, this is generally full-bodied and smooth coffee that should appeal to any taste buds.
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Here is another great Colombian coffee option by Volcanica Coffee that will appeal to any coffee lover. And besides the fact that this coffee has some amazing flavors, what makes these some of the best Colombian coffee beans is that they are more reasonably priced.
For the flavors, the coffee beans will offer sweet fruity tones and a nice fruit aroma. Also, these beans have a smooth body and medium acidity that should appeal to almost any coffee drinker.
Like many other Colombian coffee varieties by Volcanica, these beans also come in a medium roast and they are always roasted as close to packaging as possible for maximum freshness.
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For the coffee lovers that prefer a dark roast, and this is more so those that like making espressos, these Colombian beans by Peet’s Coffee will be perfect.
These coffee beans offer balanced brightness and a noticeable sweetness that will make your cup of coffee more refreshing. And because the beans are single sourced you can be sure that you are getting genuine Colombian coffee and consistency in every cup.
Peet’s Coffee also allows you to choose the grind you want for your coffee from whole beans to fine espresso grinds. To make this coffee even better, it will only be roasted in just a small batch after you place your order and sealed immediately for maximum freshness.
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Chances are you have taken some Colombian coffee at some point as it is widely available across the globe. And if you liked the taste, it is only fair to know more about this coffee.
This piece highlights the key things you need to know about this amazing coffee and we also make it easier to choose the best Colombian coffee by showcasing 8 top notch options to give you recommendations.
Lastly, Colombian coffee is also available in several varietals, and so if you are a true coffee aficionado, we highly recommend you try them all out.