The Best Colombian Coffee Beans
- Interesting Facts About Colombian Coffee
- The Current State Of The Coffee Industry In Colombia
- Best Way To Brew Colombian Joe
- Where To Buy The Best Colombian Coffee Beans
- Best Roast For Colombian
- Disfruta De Tu Café, Amigo! (Enjoy Your Coffee, Friend!)
Colombia is one of the world’s largest coffee producers and is known for its production of high-end Arabica coffee. Enjoying a cup of Colombia's coffee means indulging in a brightly acidic brew with mild fruity and chocolatey flavors.
Colombia’s national identity is closely tied to its coffee production, with the fictional coffee grower Juan Valdez being one of the country’s most recognizable exports. The “Coffee Cultural Landscape” of Colombia was even designated a 2011 UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Read on to find out what makes Colombian coffee so special and how it has served to shape and define a nation. We also reveal where to buy the best Colombian beans online + give you tips on brewing, roasting and enjoying. (See our coffee guide library here.)
TOP PICK: Colombian Peaberry (Volcanica Coffee Co.)
An elite, rare yet affordable fair trade certified peaberry bean from the ranges of Colombia.
Peaberry represents the top 5% of beans from the best coffee crops, meaning these Colombian beans from Colombia are as good as it gets.
Interesting Facts About Colombian Coffee
Colombian Coffee Tasting Notes
Coffee in Colombia consists of a large number of varietals stemming from a number of different growing areas. This makes it difficult to peg down a particular set of flavors in this region’s coffee.
However, certain dominant features recur:
- Tasters regularly describe it as mild and well-balanced with a medium, silky body and a clean-ness in the cup. Acidity levels are medium to high, yielding a bright and lively brew.
- The most common flavors are floral hints, traces of tropical fruits, red berries or apples and a sweetness akin to chocolate, sugar cane or caramel.
Aromas tend towards citrus, fruits, and hints of spice.
Their easy-drinking nature makes Colombian beans popular in blends for adding a mellow coffee taste to the more intense flavors of beans from other countries.
Three of Colombia’s most prestigious coffees are named for the coffee farming regions in which they are grown - Medellin, Armenia, and Manizales -- with Medellin Supremo being of particular importance. They are collectively located in the main central growing region and frequently marketed together under the acronym MAM. Coffees from this region have higher acidity than those grown in the Eastern Region.
Castillo coffee is worth mentioning for its popularity as well as controversy within Colombia. Bred to be resistant to the perils of coffee rust, it shares a genetic heritage with robusta beans, which leads many to doubt its quality. Castillo is known for its smoothness, aroma and citric acidity and there is evidence that it holds the potential for high-end single-origin beans.
Caturra beans are considered to be some of Colombia’s finest offerings. They were first developed in Brazil, but are now widely popular throughout the region. Caturras are distinguished by their bright acidity and low-to-medium body, but unfortunately; they are under the constant threat of coffee rust.
Tinto Coffee is an interesting final mention is the coffee known as 'tinto' which roughly translates to “inky water”. This is coffee of the people, widely available on the streets in Colombia for as little as ten cents a cup. Tinto is not renowned for its high quality or single-origin, but rather for its contribution to the coffee culture of the nation. If you are in Colombia, you must try a cup of Tinto to have a real cultural experience of their coffee.
The FNC And Juan Valdez
Colombia’s government has long recognized the economic potential of their coffee industry, and has solidified it as part of the national identity. The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (or FNC, for Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia) was created in 1927 to represent coffee growers interests and is now the largest rural non-profit organization in the world.
In 1959, the FNC created the character of Juan Valdez, an incredibly successful and long-running marketing campaign that no other coffee-growing nation has matched. This popular character appealed to consumers who for the first time began to seek out beans from a particular country.
Today, the FNC continues to strive not just toward profit generation, but toward creating a positive social impact. Research projects, training, environmental protection and community development all contribute positively to Colombia’s half million coffee growers.
Growing Conditions For Perfect Colombian Beans
Colombia has two main growing regions:
- The highlands of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta
- The slopes of the three sections of the Andes mountains that traverse the country
The larger central region around Medellin comprises nearly 14,000 square kilometers and is known as the Colombian coffee-growing axis. The mountainous eastern region is smaller and located around the cities of Bogotá and Bucaramanga.
Both areas are blessed with high elevation farms up to 6,400 feet and fertile volcanic soils. The coffee is predominantly shade grown with temperatures ranging from 8 to 24 degrees Celsius (46 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit). The alternation of wet and dry seasons in the tropical nation allows for two harvests, one running from September to December and the other running from April to June.
The growing conditions throughout the country are ideal for the production of superior, high acidity beans. Those of the central region are known for their heavy body, rich flavor, and higher acidity. Bogotá is less acidic but maintains a rich brightness. Bucaramanga is milder, often heavy-bodied, and rich in flavor.
How Are Colombian Beans Processed?
Colombian arabica beans are exclusively wet-processed, with water being used to separate the precious cherries from the surrounding pulp. Wet-processing is a relatively new technique which results in a cleaner, brighter and fruitier product. This makes it well-suited for the brightly acidic Colombian product.
Because the coffee industry in Colombia is largely made up of very small farms dispersed on steep hillsides, significant mechanization of the harvesting process is impossible. Coffee beans are carefully picked grain-by-grain. Though the process is inefficient, it results in overall higher quality product and is one of the features on which the nation has built its reputation.
The Current State Of The Coffee Industry In Colombia
Coffee growing is a big business in Colombia. They are the world’s third largest coffee producer with 12% of the world’s production. This puts them behind only Brazil and Vietnam, but in contrast with these two, Colombia grows almost exclusively high-end arabica beans.
For Colombians, coffee is not merely a plant, but a part of their national identity. Coffee growing directly employs a half million farmers, making it the country’s largest source of rural employment. Nearly all Colombian beans are grown on small plots of land averaging 5 acres and tended by single-family coffee farmers.
One of the greatest risks to the industry at present is the shifting weather patterns wrought by climate change. Rising temperatures and intense, unpredictable rainfall have both negatively impacted bean production.
Arabica beans, which make up the vast majority of Colombia’s crop, are particularly vulnerable to climatic variability. Climate change has also hastened the spread of the coffee industry’s other major scourges -- the coffee rust fungus and the coffee berry borer insect.
Both dangers have now spread to higher elevations where they are able to infect more farms and further decrease coffee yields.
Best Way To Brew Colombian Joe
Try these methods:
- Espresso - Colombian beans are known for being high in acidity and mild in flavor which makes them ideal candidates for espresso. They can be roasted dark and brewed strong without the risk of an overt bitterness. The high acidity also means they take well to milky espresso drinks like macchiatos and cappuccinos.
- The Aeropress - The balanced taste and smooth, full-bodied mouthfeel of Colombian beans make them well suited to the Aeropress style of brewing. Bogota, Colombia’s capital, even hosts an annual Aeropress Championship which is serving to enhance the brewing culture within the country.
Where To Buy The Best Colombian Coffee Beans
|Cooper's Coffee Company||CHECK SITE →|
|Colombian Peaberry (Volcanica)||CHECK PRICE →|
|Colombian Supremo (Volcanica)||CHECK PRICE →|
|Colombian Supremo Green Beans(Copan Trade)||CHECK PRICE →|
|Colombia (Peets)||CHECK PRICE →|
If you want to source top notch single-origin Colombian beans, consider ordering from Cooper’s Coffee Company, a tiny roastery based in Rhode Island, USA. This small company carefully sources only the best Fair Trade beans. The company roasts the beans only once they’ve been ordered, and each bag is marked with the date of roasting.
What's so cool about Cooper’s beans - they age their beans in used barrels. This adds subtle new flavors and aromas that serve to enhance the natural taste of the beans without disguising it. Cooper’s offers single origin Colombian beans in a dark roast which gives them a rustic sweetness, a hint of cocoa and dark fruit notes.
If you’re unsatisfied, this company also offers a 30-day full money back guarantee.
2. Volcanica Colombian Peaberry (Our Top Pick!)
If you’re looking to try some of the best Colombian coffee on the market, this is where you want to start. Peaberry coffee is unique and often packed with flavor. Usually, these hard-to-find beans only comprise around 5% of a crop, so you know they’re coming from the rarest beans in each harvest.
But their size and rarity aren’t the only things these incredible beans have going for them. They’re grown in volcanic soil (part of the reason why Volcanica carries them!) way up at very high elevations – at nearly 6,000 feet at some points – which is part of what helps them pack a punch!
The intense flavor medley of Colombian Peaberry beans includes notes of malt, walnuts, and cherry-chocolate, along with wood-toned chocolate notes in the finish.
The beans are medium roasted, but in true Volcanica style, they’re not roasted until after you place your order to ensure that they arrive at your doorstep with the maximum flavor possible! Add onto that the fact that these beans are Fair Trade certified, and you can rest with peace of mind knowing that the farmers were treated well, as you enjoy some of the best Colombian coffee in existence!
Finally, the “crema on top” of it all is that these bags of high-quality beans are marked at astonishingly low price points. In fact, for peaberries, they’re a steal!
- Rare peaberries coming from the top 5% of each crop
- Fair Trade certified, allowing for peace of mind for the consumer
- Very affordable yet elite coffee beans
Volcanica’s Colombian Supremo is an utterly elite coffee that stands out amongst the Colombian pack for a whole host of reasons. These beans have a uniquely smooth yet unmistakable flavor profile. Packed with sweet, fruity, and nutty tones that follow a fruity and floral aroma, the brew is composed of a rich, full body with a delightfully smooth acidity and finish.
The beans can deliver so much because they’re grown with great care and in some of the best possible conditions. For one thing, they’re grown in rich, volcanic ash high up in the Colombian Andes on the Andeano Estate, which brings the altitude factor into play again. They’re also Shade Grown, so you know they’ve been grown in natural environments that haven’t been tampered with to artificially increase production.
But all this is just the tip of the iceberg with these caffeine-loaded dainties. True to Volcanica’s ethically focused business model, the beans come from a farm that has taken the time to ensure their beans are both Fair Trade AND Rainforest Alliance certified. The former ensures that the workers are receiving fair wages, while the latter also watches out for the environment and growing conditions. To top it all off, they’re organic, as well!
Of course, being from Volcanica, they’re also not roasted until after you place your order, ensuring that they’ll arrive on your doorstep in the best brewing condition possible.
- Very smooth and flavorful beans
- Shade Grown in volcanic soil at high altitudes on the Andeano Estate
- Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Organic certified
For home roasters, Copan Trade offers Colombian Supremo green beans in quantities starting from 25 pounds. The beans are sourced in the Cauca region and have caramel and almond as their primary cupping notes.
If you’re looking for a provider that’s just as committed to sourcing high-quality beans, but a little less expensive and a little less hipster, consider Peet’s Coffee. Check out their Colombia selection here.
Peet’s began as a coffee shop on America’s West Coast and has since grown into a mini-empire selling all nature of coffees, teas, gifts, and accessories. Peet’s has a loyal fan base thanks to a consistent offering of high-quality products. The company offers dark roasted Colombians which are roasted once a week on Wednesdays to guarantee freshness.
The coffee is available as whole beans or in a variety of grind sizes. The dark roast is balanced and full-bodied for a bright, sweet cup of coffee. Peet’s also offers a lightly roasted blend, Colombia Luminosa, which incorporates Ethiopian beans for additional floral aromatics. The result is a pleasantly mild, smooth flavor with delicately sweet aromas.
Best Roast For Colombian
One of the wonderful things about Colombian beans is their ability to take well to a variety of roasts well. This is largely a result of their mild flavors and smooth mouthfeel.
Light roasts are best for appreciating the subtle nuances of a brew and are highly recommended if you’re looking to sample a number of varietals. A light roast allows the differences between each to be more readily detected. Their bright acidic nature and citrus fruit undertones are best highlighted by a light roast which maintains the underlying tastes of the beans. Cocoa and caramel flavors are also brought to the forefront.
Medium to dark roasts have more intense flavors and rich aromas. While still acidic, their bright fruitiness is muted and sweeter cocoa flavors take the stage.
Disfruta De Tu Café, Amigo! (Enjoy Your Coffee, Friend!)
Colombia and coffee are inextricably linked and I hope this article has given you some insight into why. High-elevation volcanic soils and a commitment to growing only the finest arabica beans have left this South American nation with a well-deserved golden reputation.
Consider starting your day with a cup of Colombian coffee and let us know what you think in the comments below. And please share this article if you enjoyed it!