Coffee in Colombia | History, Production and Varieties

Le Café en Colombie | Histoire, Production et Variétés

Café de Colombie, an exceptional, world-renowned beverage

Colombia and coffee have more than 300 years of history . Introduced in the 18th century by the Jesuits, the coffee tree has since taken root in the region. Exports began in 1835. Today, the country ranks 3rd in the world. How is coffee produced in Colombia ? Why is it considered one of the best coffees in the world ? Focus on the cultivation of black gold in Colombian lands .

Coffee grown along the Andes

Coffee in Colombia is:

  • 8.8% of the market;
  • 3rd international producer;
  • 750,000 tonnes of coffee per year;
  • 500,000 farms dedicated to coffee growing.

Coffee production extends to the west of the country, at the level of the Andes: from Antioquia in the north to Narino in the south. This region, nicknamed Eje Cafetero or Coffee Triangle, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 as the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (PCCC). What earned it this status? Decades of traditions and adaptation to a difficult environment in the service of coffee culture. More than a job, it's a unique way of life.

In this territory, all the ideal conditions are met for the development of the coffee tree:

  • An altitude between 1,200 and 1,800 meters.
  • Temperatures oscillating between 17 and 23 degrees.
  • A tropical climate and high humidity.

Thanks to this dream configuration and its microclimates, Colombia is the only country that can harvest coffee all year round! Unlike the vast Brazilian farms, Colombian farms extend over small plots. They are traditionally passed down from generation to generation.

But growing coffee in the mountains is not easy! The steep terrain with inclined slopes of more than 25% constitutes perilous terrain for cafeteros , coffee producers. In addition, mechanization is rarely possible. They must harvest the fruits by hand, one by one. These are then pulped using a machine before being wet dried. Allow 12 to 36 hours for fermentation and up to 10 days for drying. This method results in what is called washed coffee, known for its more pronounced acidity.

Coffee in Colombia: its arabica varieties

Coffee in Colombia is recognized for its balance on the palate: moderate acidity, body and sweetness. The country only grows Arabica, not Robusta.

Among the most popular varieties, you can find the following:

  • Bourbon: we find yellow, red and orange Bourbon in Colombia. We appreciate its cup for its finesse and lightness.
  • Caturra: this Arabica discovered in the town of Caturra in Brazil is also very famous in Colombia.
  • Geisha: originally from Ethiopia, this variety was imported to Costa Rica then Panama before taking up residence in Colombia. It is known for specialty coffee.

The National Coffee Research Center, Cenicafé, participated in the development of new varieties in the laboratory. The goal ? Obtain plants that are more resistant to diseases, such as coffee rust, and offer better sensory quality. Among them, we can cite Castillo, Tabi and Colombia.

💡 Did you know? Colombians don't drink coffee, but tinto ! This coffee is prepared with pasillas , lower quality coffee beans not retained for export. The tinto is eaten very sweet and elongated in plastic glasses. We are far from the traditional coffee ceremony in Ethiopia!

The Café de Colombia label and the recognition of Colombian beans

Colombian coffee is appreciated around the world for its quality. The FNC, Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia, was created in 1927 to promote the consumption of Colombian coffee. Still active today, this organization works for the recognition of producers and their remuneration at a fair price. It also funds research aimed at improving the yield of local plantations.

In 1984, the FNC created the “Café de Colombia” label. He is represented by this friendly farmer in the hat, always accompanied by his mule. This character is named Juan Valdez and was created by the American agency Doyle Dane Bernach. It symbolizes the values ​​of Colombian cafeteros : work, authenticity and commitment to one's family and community.

To use this logo and stamp it on its products, a company must roast at least one brand of excellent quality 100% Colombian coffee.

💡 Good to know: Colombia is the first non-European country to have obtained a protected geographic indication (PGI) for its “Café de Colombia” label, in 2007. Switzerland also made it its first foreign PGI in 2013.

Coffee in Colombia benefits from ideal, although atypical, growing conditions, which explain its excellence and unique aromas. Aware of this immense potential, the country is investing more and more to have the character of its coffee and the commitment of its producers recognized throughout the world.

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