Famous for producing some of the world’s most diverse coffee, Colombia has a rich history of growing remarkable specialty coffee throughout the country.
Brought to South America by Spanish settlers in the early eighteenth century, the first coffee crops were sown in the northeast of Colombia before spreading wildly across the country. Initially planted to supplement farmers’ crops, Colombia didn't begin exporting coffee until the nineteenth century but has since steadily grown to become the second largest exporter of arabica coffee in the world.
Today, Colombia is known as an origin of superior quality and flavour in the specialty coffee industry. A country with dozens of micro-climates and nutrient-rich soils, Colombia produces remarkably varying flavours from region to region.
There are five main coffee-growing regions throughout Colombia, with nineteen sub-regions covering almost one million hectares of land.
Thanks to dozens of micro-climates so close to the equator, Colombian coffee has a reputation for possessing some of the most diverse arabica flavours in the world. With mountains reaching over 2000 masl. and frequent seasonal rains, Colombia provides the perfect climate for growing premium arabica coffee.
With lower temperatures at high altitudes, Colombian coffee tends to ripen slower than other regions of the world, allowing for an increased development of flavour which truly shows in the cup. Coffee grown at these high altitudes produce a lower yield per crop but is less susceptible to pests and disease. Colombian specialty coffee is prized for its acidity, complexity and well-rounded flavour; these coffees are highly sought after.
With frequent seasonal rains and a consistent water source from the Andes Mountain Range, most Colombian coffee you find will be washed processed. Specialty coffee from Colombia is often described as crisp, acidic, aromatic and clean, thanks to the prevalence of washing stations available to farmers and co-ops.
Thankfully, the exporting infrastructure available to farms throughout the country still allows experimental and less common processed coffees to make it to market. Not to be pigeonholed by the prevalence of washed coffee throughout Colombia, progressive farmers are experimenting with honey, natural and anaerobic fermentation processing, producing coffees that are creating waves for specialty coffee drinkers around the world.
Thanks to the Colombian government’s considerable investments in their domestic coffee industry in the mid-nineties, advanced infrastructure and logistics enable independent growers and rural smallholder farms to sell and export their coffee efficiently.
One of our major, long term-relationships in Colombia is with Racafé. We’ve been working with the team there since 2007 and we source one of our finest coffees through them (read about it below). Racafé is one of our partnerships that we're incredibly proud of — not only does it align with our sourcing philosophy of purchasing sustainable, traceable and ethically sourced coffee, but this relationship also gives back to proud coffee-growing communities in multiple ways.
Our other major Colombian partnership is SKN Caribecafé, who we’ve worked with since 2012. The coffee we buy from SKN is called Libano, from Tolima. A single estate coffee blended from five neighbouring estates which are all pooled together. This is quite typical in many coffee-growing regions, as smallholder farms often can’t produce enough coffee to export alone, so pooling together with neighbouring farms is a method to showcase a region’s flavour to the world.
A special arabica coffee that we have sourced since 2011 is the Colombia Pescador. A remarkable coffee that is integral to our most popular blends, the Colombia Pescador shines as a single origin and gives back to a proud coffee-growing community. Our decade-long collaboration with exporter Racafé and buyer Mario Trochez provides improved infrastructure for growers in the Pescador region, northeast of Cauca, Colombia.
In 2016, Racafé conducted fieldwork in the area and identified that growers in the region faced challenges in effectively drying their parchment coffee. Some farmers could only dry their coffee on concrete patios, some on raised beds, a lot on the ground. If rain came, which it often did, it interfered with the drying process.
Growers were ending up with inconsistent cup quality this way. To reduce processing coffee’s exposure to the elements and pests, drying tunnels have been constructed to increase the quality of coffee throughout the Pescador region.
The result over the past few years has been a consistently increasing amount of Pescador coffee being available each season. There is more coffee for us to purchase, and the growers are getting a better return as the portion of higher-quality coffee from each crop is growing. Small-holder farms’ highest quality coffee fetches a premium price which can then be used to reinvest in their farms.
With delicious notes of milk chocolate, brown sugar, dried fruits and crisp apple, this coffee is so good that we roast this single origin as a go-to, everyday filter. It’s remarkably well-rounded, truly showcasing the best of Colombian specialty coffee.
We roast the Pescador as a single origin to provide a consistent and reliable flavour experience for filter coffee drinkers. We often source other Colombian coffee for Our Coffee Galaxy, as they consistently stand out with their phenomenal flavour and quality.
You’ll also find the Colombia Pescador forming an integral part of our Allpress Espresso Blend and A.R.T. Espresso Roast, bringing acidity to these blends and providing balance in the form of milk chocolate and caramel sweetness.
With its micro-climates affecting every crop differently, no two Colombian coffees taste the same. If you choose a Colombian coffee on the shelf or online, know that you're in for a flavour experience of some of the best specialty coffee you can get.