It is about time to go on with the coffee producer section: today it’s the turn of Colombia.
There are some legends in which first coffee seeds arrived in Colombia. It is believed that in 1723 a Jesuit priest brought the coffee from the East of the country (possibly from Guyana where the French already introduced coffee a couple of decades earlier).
So, legend has it that a priest called Francisco Romero requested an unusual confession: instead of the usual penance he told the parishioners to plant some coffee trees. And from then on, this became a common practice. Nowadays Colombia is the third largest producer of coffee after Brazil and Vietnam and highest in terms of arabica coffee.
Colombia has the perfect location to grow one of the finest arabica due to a volcanic soil, lots of micro-climate and high altitude. That’s why it only produces arabica coffee. The varieties that are cultivated are Castillo, Typica, Caturra, Bourbon, Colombia, Maragogype and Tabi. It’s not easy to define every single flavors from any single variety (micro-climate within the regions make Colombia so different; there are 19 different producing regions) but there are some that can be found in most of them. Chocolaty and fruity (tropical, red berries), sweetness (caramel and sugar cane), medium to high body with citrus and some spice aromas. Medium to high acidity too and a cleanness in the cup. Colombian coffee mix really well with blend recipes; a common blend is with the coffee beans from brazil.
Main Growings Regions in Colombia
Medellin (Antioquia), Quindio (Armenia) and Caldas (Manizales) are well-known regions (known as the Colombian coffee-growing axis) in which is cultivated one of the finest arabica of the entire country.
Shortened with the acronym MAM, they are located in the central region: these beans come out with heavy body and high acidity due to the high elevations. High elevations mean colder temperature so the beans have more time to ripe developing higher acidity. The soil is obviously volcanic and most of the coffee trees grow within the shadows of fruit plant.
There are two harvest seasons, it’s dry from September to December and wet from April to June.
Moving up north we find lower altitude zones (Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Santander and North of Santander): coffee comes out with lower acidity and high in body.
Moving down south we find Huila, Cauca, Narino and the south of Tolima.
Here the coffee grows higher than the northern regions: coffee comes out with higher acidity, sweetness and intense aromas. Keep in mind that every region has its harvesting period due to the diversity of micro-climates.
To the east we find the smallest region: coffee is becoming as important as the other regions, though it is the part of the country that need much more investments; coffee comes out with lower acidity similarly to the north regions of the country.
Coffee in Colombia grows on the slopes of the mountain and are picked by hand selecting only the ripest cherry to guarantee its highest quality. There are more than 560,000 family farms in Colombia with an average of a couple of hectares held each one. The process is exclusively washed resulting in a cleaner cup.
“Tinto”, the Coffee Colombians love
Coffee must not be seen as only the first cash crop of the country: not all the coffee is exported, there is also “Tinto”, the coffee of the people. If you are in Colombia and you want to live the culture of the Colombian people you have to try this “inky water”.
Tinto is the coffee of the street that are sold for few cents. It’s the most popular drink of the country, it’s a strong black coffee served with sweetener; it’s not really known for the good quality but it’s much better of the instant coffee that Colombian drink at home.
I am an Italian coffee lover that pushed for the love of this “amazing drug” decided to come to London to study about coffee and its different extraction procedures and tastes.