Colombian Coffee 101: Everything You Need to Know

colombian coffee

Colombian coffee is famous as one of the best Arabica coffees found around the world, and for good reason.

Today, Colombian coffee is one of the most popular beans in the world’s coffee supply, accounting for around 12% of the global coffee supply. Aside from its unique taste, Colombian coffee is popular today thanks to improved farming infrastructures, key advertising, and marketing campaigns. Colombia got into the coffee industry when it was still developing, carving a name out for themselves in the beginning.

But just like other coffee powerhouses in South America, Colombia succeeded and grew early on. They began on humble beginnings and had to fight against rivals to reach the level they are currently on today.

If this is peaking your interest, keep on reading! We will talk about the qualities that make Colombian coffee special and how they got there in the first place.

Qualities of Colombian Coffee

bali blue coffee

When it comes to flavor, Colombian coffee is varied and diverse. Due to the varying climates of the region, the beans can be very different depending on the harvest zone.

For instance, in the Northern regions of Santander and Santa Marta, which has higher temperatures and lower altitudes, coffee beans grown in these regions tend to have a fuller body and deeper flavor notes.

In the Central region of Caldas, in Antioquia and Quindio, coffee beans in these regions come well-rounded. They have a smooth and gentle sweetness, warm acidity, and often have chocolate or nutty flavor notes.

Lastly come the Southern regions of Cauca, in Huila and Nariño. The high elevation in these regions tends to create beans with high acidity, floral aroma, and more complex flavor profiles.

Due to the diversity of Colombian coffee, they can fit almost any taste and preference. Perhaps, this somehow contributes to why it is one of the most sought-out coffee beans in the world.

How Colombia Grows Their Coffee Beans

Colombian coffee

Colombian geography is interesting. It consists of a variety of elements, not found all together in many other countries. It consists of mountains, wet climate, nutrient-rich hills, and high elevation. The climate makes Colombia capable of growing such varied and diverse coffee profiles. But what’s more? These geographic and climate characteristics not only allow Colombia to relatively easily grow coffee compared to its neighboring South American countries, but it also allows them to grow excellent coffees.

Currently, it is estimated that Colombia has over 600,000 coffee producing farmers. However, most of them are small farmers and lives and farms in rural areas. Colombia is also investing in innovative and efficient farming infrastructures to help coffee farmers in growing and selling their coffee to the market. While the majority of Colombian coffee stays within the countries borders, annual export from the national accounts for around 11 to 13 million bags of coffee.

Due to the rainy climate of Colombia, the most common processing method used is the washed or wet-processing method. This results in a coffee that has a gentle sweetness, high level of flavor, and crispy acidity.

When it comes to harvest season, Colombia has two: the first harvest season that happens from March to June. The second harvest season, which is smaller, occurs between September and December.

Processing Methods of Colombian Coffee

As mentioned above, most Colombian coffees are processed via the wet-processing method or the washing method.

The wet-processing method is actually a relatively new method when removing the layers of a coffee bean. Its counterpart, the dry-processing method, is more commonly used than this method. Because the Colombian climate is mainly rainy, the wet-processing, although relatively new, is gaining in popularity.

The wet-processing method results in cleaner, brighter, and fruiter coffee beans. If you want such coffee beans, look for wet-processed coffee beans, and Colombian coffee will suit you perfectly.

A Little History of Colombian Coffee

Coffee was first introduced to Colombia in the 1700s after Jesuit priests brought coffees with them and traveled to Colombian with Spanish settlers. The first crops of coffee were harvested in the Northeastern part of Colombia, but soon, in no time, coffee was quickly adopted and planted across the nation by rural, family farms as their local cash crop.

Although coffee was brought to Colombia during the 1700s, they did not commercially exploit coffee until the first decade of the 1800s. But when they finally did, their first shipment was a simple 100 bags of green coffee (estimated to be 60kg each). This small step would soon lead to a major coffee industry in Colombia.

Soon, during the mid-1800s, countries like the United States, France, and Germany’s demand for coffee increased. Colombia, among some other coffee-producing countries, happily supply that demand.

Unfortunately, things did not continuously take off from there. As the late 1800s progressed, a civil war broke out in Colombia, called The Thousand Days War. This civil war, along with stagnation in international coffee prices, declined Colombia’s growing coffee industry. This also forced many plantation owners to split up farmland among their workers, giving the workers and locals ownership and autonomy over their own newly-owned farms.

Despite the setback from the past decade or so, Colombia eventually bounced back from it. When the 1900s finally came, and at this point, Colombia was already peaceful, Colombia decided to create a logistics system that will help rural, small-estate farmers to export their coffee more effectively and efficiently. This significantly boost the growth of the country’s coffee industry. This also gave small, rural farmers a way to keep producing coffee.

From a Struggling Coffee Industry Into a Global Coffee Powerhouse

In this same century, the Colombian coffee industry would grow to become one of the world’s powerhouses in global coffee production. It all began in 1927 when the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FNC) was established to protect the interests of their coffee growers. The organization instantly became popular amongst coffee growers and it quickly represented a significant portion of Colombian coffee farmers.

Then, over the next few years, Colombia grew to be a major coffee producer. Eventually, it became the world’s 3rd largest exporter of coffee, just only behind Brazil and Vietnam.

To further boost the coffee industry of Colombia, the Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia decided to launch a series of marketing and advertising campaigns to create a demand for Colombian coffee from around the world. The most iconic of these ads is the ad campaign that features Juan Valdez, a fictional character who would “represent” the Colombian coffee to the world. And don’t forget his loyal donkey, Conchita!

Juan Valdez and his loyal donkey, Conchita, quickly became a national icon that represented Colombian coffee. Ever since then, he (or his icon) has been beloved by many. Many would even claim that Juan Valdez’s character can be the “Uncle Sam of Colombia”.

Try it out — Colombian Coffee Latte

Honey Cinnamon Iced Latte

A honey cinnamon iced latte is a great way to refuel yourself mid-afternoon or even to start your day with. Paired with a rich Colombian coffee roast, it makes for a refreshing afternoon drink. If you are looking for more healthy coffee recipes, check out our recipes HERE.


  • 1 cup of cold-brewed coffee depending on the brew strength you prefer
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder

How to make it →

  1. Brew a cup of your favorite coffee and pour it into your favorite mug.
  2. Stir in the coconut milk, honey, and cinnamon.
  3. Enjoy!

Summing It Up

Colombia produces some of the most diverse coffee beans in the world when it comes to flavor and overall features. One major factor of this is simply the geography of Colombia – elevations, climate, mountains, hills, and nutrient-rich soil all contribute to the wide diversity of Colombian coffee. This diversity is one of the reasons why Colombian coffee is sought out in many parts of the world – simply because it suits different tastes and preferences. If you are looking to try out a Colombian coffee recipe, check out our recent blog post on how to brew the perfect cup HERE.

Another major reason for Colombian success in the coffee business is how the Colombians invest in their coffee’s logistics system. This helps many small and rural farmers to bring and sell their coffee products to the market – thereby encouraging them to produce even more coffee.

We hope this peaked your interest in Colombian coffee and you are dying to try a cup!

After learning about Colombian coffee, do you think its time to give the roast a try? Shop our Colombian coffee HERE.

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