A History And Brief Overview of the Colombian Coffee Growing Region

     Colombian coffees have been a staple at Sagebrush since the very beginning. I continue to offer them on the site because they are versatile, incredibly smooth to drink and often sell very well. If you drink coffee, which why else would you be reading this, you have most likely had a cup of Colombian coffee in your lifetime. Many restaurants serve a Colombian blend for their morning coffee, and the origin is usually a top seller at grocery stores. So why are Colombian coffees so accessible and well-liked?

Colombian Coffee History & Geography:

     The origin story of Colombian beans has been told through several different accounts. Although there is not a definite answer, most people believe coffee was introduced to Colombia in 1723 by the Jesuits. Coffee as a commercial crop was received quite slowly by the various regions of the country. Colombia's coffee production did not pick up significantly until the end of the 19th century, and by 1912, coffee made up fifty percent of their total imports. What set Colombia apart from other coffee distributors was their focus on branding and marketing. A farmer named Juan Valdez became the "poster boy" of Colombian coffee with an image of him and his mule being the symbol that appeared on bags and advertising campaigns. This specific branding added value to Colombian coffee and made it a recognizable coffee to the U.S.

     Colombia has become the third largest producer of coffee in the world, with the export now being controlled by a national federation called the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros or FNC. This organization protects the interest of coffee producers and has a role in marketing, financial matters, and the development of infrastructures like roads and schools. A major component to Colombia’s success with coffee is the country’s ideal climate and growing conditions. Colombian coffees are grown in elevations ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 meters. The mountainous and tropical terrain, mild climate, and high rainfall create the perfect geography for producing coffees that are rich with flavor. The harvesting season varies due to the geographic size of Colombia. Most crops are harvested between September and January, while certain areas harvest from April to August. This continual output of crops allows for more stable pricing and a consistent supply of beans to North America.

Typical Flavor Profiles of Colombian Coffee:

     Colombian coffees standout because they have a large number of varietals that stem from a number of different growing areas. This variety produces a vast range of flavors and can make it tricky to jot down a set of flavors particular to Colombia. Colombia is also one of the few countries that only grows Arabica beans. This fact is why their coffees are often sweeter, more acidic and considered higher quality over Robusta beans. Some coffees have bolder, chocolatier notes while others are bright with a sweet, fruity mouthfeel. The coffee is smooth, medium-bodied, and their somewhat mild flavor makes it an excellent choice for espressos. 

     The beans create a lively brew with their medium to high acidity levels and the aromas are often fruity, citrusy, and at times spicy. Colombian beans are unique in that they can be roasted dark without becoming overly bitter. Colombia is one of the few origins I have carried that over time I have marketed as a light, medium, and dark roast. This goes to show how versatile Colombian beans truly are. 

Our Current Favorite Coffee Farm in Colombia:

     We love the Finca La Guamera farm, because of the way they emphasize the preservation of natural resources.  They focus on the social responsibility to all those involved in the different production processes of the farm and to maintain and manage a reliable and traceable information, thus ensuring responsible production.  Although Colombia is the 2nd largest coffee producing country in the world, this farm doesn't fall prey to the mass production coffee that runs rampant in the country.  They work hard to make sure that our customers and the coffee community know they seek responsible coffee production.

     Finca La Guamera is a farm owned by the Muñoz family and it is located in the hilly region of Caldas. Caldas is the leading coffee harvesting department of Colombia. The farm was disused until 30 years ago when many new farmers moved near La Guamera after the eruption of volcano Nevada de Ruiz. The farmers were new to growing coffee and would sell their freshly harvested coffee to the Muñoz family to be processed at their mill. Their foundation of coffee purchasing allowed them to develop a dry milling and export company named after the original farm, La Meseta. The farm continues to flourish and grow plump cherries that produce versatile, delicious coffee. 

Quick Facts - Colombia:

 Description

Fact

Total Coffee Farming Area

940,000 hectares

Number of Coffee Producers

~570,000 (mostly small farms)

Growing Altitude

1,200 - 2,000 meters (above sea level)

Harvesting Season

September - December

Temperature

46 – 75 ℉

Cultivar

Arabica

Coffee Varietals

Typica, Bourbon, Caturra, Castillo, Colombia

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