If you are getting into coffee and especially if you are brewing at home, then you will undoubtedly come across all the different origins of coffee. Check out this article on single-origin coffee to learn more. Each origin has its own features, so I thought I would start breaking down the single-origin-web country by country to try and get a grasp on what kind of flavors and nuances to expect from the various countries. So grab a cup of black coffee lets dive in.
A quick history of coffee in Colombia
I’m starting with Colombia because it has such a solid reputation in the coffee world. The coffee plant is relatively new to the American continents, arriving with the French and Dutch around the turn of the 17th century. More specifically, coffee was first introduced to Colombia in 1723, thanks to Jesuit priests who brought the seeds from Venezuela. And since then, the importance of coffee has only grown.
The birthplace of Colombian coffee is a Jesuit seminary in Popayán in 1732. The earliest plantations for commercial production are dated around the end of the 18th century and found in the states/provinces (departments) of Santander and Boyaca. Later coffee was being planted in the hills surrounding Medellin.
After Colombia’s 1810 independence from Spain, coffee production skyrocketed. According to records of the time production from 1850-1880 went from 1,000 bags per year to 100,000 bags per year!
Jump to 1905 and Colombia was producing 500,000 bags per year. Jump again to 1930, the country’s coffee export was up to 3 million bags. This growth in the coffee sector had a large impact on the country as a whole, affecting the economy and political structures. Representing 10% of the world coffee trade, Colombia was now a major player.
With a powerful economic wind at their back, in 1927 Colombia’s coffee growers met in the town of Medellin to create an association to protect their industry. The group that formed is called the Federation Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (the FNC). The purposes of this group were to improve the prices that producers received for coffee and to work together as a union to improve the name of Colombian coffee across the world. The FNC created a fictional character, Juan Valdez accompanied by his donkey, for Colombian coffee that is now world famous. I remember seeing these old coffee cans with Juan Valdez holding nails, screws, wire, and other things throughout my grandpa’s woodworking shop.
The FNC provides a guaranteed price for coffee growers. If the growers want, they can sell to the FNC or on the open market. This gives the growers security in a stable market and it has really paid off. Colombian coffee goes for a much higher price than coffee from other countries. Take a look at the chart below.
Colombia 21.87 Baht/lb
Guatemala 8.27 Baht/lb
Costa Rica 7.98 Baht/lb
El Salvador 3.19 Baht/lb
Honduras 2.71 Baht/lb
Mexico 1.49 Baht/lb
As you can see Colombian coffee sells for over 14 times more than Mexican coffee.
Amazingly Colombia has been able to achieve this standard in the coffee market despite being ripped apart by the drug trade and civil unrest.
The country is coming off its 1992 highs of 16,000,000 60kg bags to the current 14,200,000 bags and is still a coffee powerhouse for now. Unfortunately, the effects of climate change are plaguing the coffee produces with unexpected rains and temperature swings that are making growing coffee riskier.
That’s the quick history of Colombia’s coffee production but what about the flavor profiles we should expect from the various regions?
Four Regions of Coffee In Colombia
Coffees from the department/state of Huila tend to have sweetness, and thick milk chocolate and caramel tones that lend themselves to bigger bodies.
With part of the department being coast and part high mountainous region, most of the population resides in this high mountainous region. The elevation of this department starts around 2,500m and boasts volcanoes reaching up to 4700m! Here in Thailand, the highest mountain is Doi Inthanon at 2,565m. Beans from here typically exhibit a buttery mouthfeel with big bodies and light acidity.
Located in the Andean region, in the center west of the country, the capital of this department is Ibague, with the coffees here being typically floral and with bright acidity.
Coffees from Cauca tend to exhibit delicate floral flavors and fruit acidity, along with lots of sweetness.
All these states in Colombia share the spine of the Andes Mountains, which splits into three mountain ranges. This mountain spine carries on through Peru and Bolivia and produces some amazing coffees that end up in coffee cups around the world
Even though coffee exports only represent roughly 10% of Colombia’s total exports by value today, it is still a very important sector of the economy. There are over 500,000 coffee growers, who together own approximately 850 thousand hectares of coffee plants and produce an average of 9 million coffee sacks per year. Of these 500,000 families, 70% are small producers with less than 1.5 hectares of coffee land.
Where to buy great Colombian coffee online
Like I said above Colombian coffee demands a higher price and you are going to pay for it here in Thailand. On Metacup.com there are three bags on offer and the selection is always changing so check often.
If you order, use coupon code “COFFEESIMPLE” to get 5% off!
If you order use coupon code “COFFEESIMPLE” to get 5% off!
You can also go down to Starbucks and pick up a back of their Colombia medium roast.