Where is Coffee From? / Colombia
Colombia is the world’s third largest coffee producer behind only Brazil and Viernam. But compared to these two, Colombia grows almost exclusively high-end Arabica beans. The coffee growing industry employs half a million farmers and is the country’s largest source of rural employment. So what is it that makes Colombian coffee so popular? Our very own Coffee Apostle takes a look…
Character and Profile
There’s a reason that Colombian coffee is so well-known, and that’s because of its characteristics and flavour profile. Colombian beans are famous for their smooth and easy to drink qualities.
We’re talking about tasting notes that bring to mind chocolate and sugar cane, sweet fruits, caramel. Silky bodies and clean crisp tastes in the cup. Acidity levels that are medium to high, creating bright and lively brews. Aromas that are citrusy and fresh with the occasional hint of spice.
And it’s these characteristics that make for such a pleasing cup of coffee. Colombian beans can balance out and mellow any overbearing or undesirable qualities in other coffee varieties, making them exceptional partners for blending. That’s why Colombian coffee is so often the choice for Espresso and darker roasted coffee.
Colombian beans create a coffee that seems familiar and reassuring to our tastes buds, and that’s because most of the time when you’re starting out on your coffee drinking journey – particularly in those heinous coffee establishments that have recognisable logos, copyrighted colour schemes and drive through facilities – you’re most likely drinking a coffee that has made use of Colombian beans.
Farming and Process
Colombian coffee is typically from four plant varieties - Typica, Bourbon, Caturra and Maragogype - and these can come from any one of the 22 distinct growing regions within the country.
It’s a big old place, and as such the coffee industry often breaks it down into three main groups – Northern, Central and Southern – clever huh? But the majority of coffee is grown in two areas.
The first is in the highlands of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and the second is on the slopes of the three sections of the Andes mountains, which traverse the country. A larger region in the centre of Colombia totals nearly 14,000 square kilometres and is known as the Colombian coffee-growing axis.
Now the beauty of Colombian coffee is that it’s grown on relatively small farms on steep hillsides, which means that machine harvesting is impossible. As such the beans are carefully hand-picked, ensuring that the quality of beans is incredibly high when compared to somewhere that is more efficient but less critical of the cherries being harvested.
The beans are grown at altitudes anywhere from 1,200-1,800 meters above sea level and are harvested at different times depending on the region – most are harvested between September and January, but others from April to August. Because of this consistent output throughout the year, Colombian coffee offers stable prices and a regular supply to ensure that the good stuff keeps coming to those cafes and coffee shops near you, all year round.
Once the beans are harvested they are processed and Colombian beans are exclusively wet processed. This is when water is used to separate the cherries from the surrounding pulp, resulting in clean, bright and fruiter coffee – something that is really well suited to the bright acidity of the Colombian coffee bean.
And there endeth the lesson - we’re big fans of Colombian coffee here at Apostle, which is why our Organic Espresso Blend ‘The Devi’s Chair’ is made entirely of specialty grade Colombian beans. Why not give it a go and see for yourself!
Where is Coffee From? / Colombia - an article by Apostle Coffee