Colombia - Hard Work and Shared Pride

To any coffee lover out there, Colombia's name is certainly not new. Thanks to its unique geography and mesmerizing nature, it is perhaps the best place to produce yummy brews. This is why it is often considered to be one of the highest quality coffee in the world. But the road to excellent brews has not been easy. Colombia has struggled with a civil war as well as dramatic sales drops. Despite this, the country has managed to stay at the top of the industry. Here is the story of coffee making in Colombia.


The civil war slowed things down


How was the dark drink introduced in Colombia? Coffee first appeared in the stunning country in the early 1700s. Jesuit priests arrived together with Spanish settlers and brought coffee with them. In the beginning, most crops were planted in the Northern part of Colombia, but as time went on, coffee was grown all across the country. Although the plant's popularity grew quite fast, the commercial export began only in the first decade of the 1800s. The first shipment included just 100 bags of green coffee. Each of them weighed about 60 kilograms. That is how the major industry began.


In the middle of the 19th century, people started to drink coffee more. In Germany, France, and the United States, the dark drink became a part of everyday life. Therefore coffee production in Colombia gained new heights as well. As the civil war, called the Thousand Days War, broke out in the 1800s,  of course, the coffee industry took a big hit. Since international prices seemed to drop as well, many plantation owners had to split up their land and give it to workers. That meant complete ownership over their coffee farms. Things started to look brighter in the early 1900s. That is when a national logistics system was created. Thanks to it, small farmers were able to export coffee on better terms. That pushed the production process.


Similar to other countries in South America, in 1927, Colombia created the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia. Its goal was to protect all of the coffee growers. This organization soon would act on behalf of a large portion of the Colombian coffee farmers. The next couple of years were game-changing. The beautiful country became the third world's largest coffee export. The only countries in front – Brazil and Vietnam.


The fifties were another turning point in coffee making in Colombia. FNC created a unique ad campaign that became legendary and spread Colombian coffee's name around the whole world. The man behind the success was Juan Valdez – a fictional character that emphasized how excellent Colombian coffee is. This character is known throughout all Colombia (and perhaps the world).


Coffee making in Colombia


Since weather conditions in Colombia can vary greatly across thousands of miles, it is an excellent place to grow coffee beans. Furthermore, all around the country, you will spot mountains, hills, wet climate, and high elevation, which are the perfect ingredients for making great brews.


Nowadays, it is estimated that more than 600 000  farmers are involved in the coffee-making process in Colombia. The majority of them still operate in small areas, quite secluded from other parts of the country. But thanks to the successful infrastructure, they can easily get crops to their desired market. As a result, although some part of the Colombian coffee stays within the country, every year, about 11 to 13 million bags of the brews are exported to different places.


Since Colombia experiences rains quite often, farmers mostly use the washed method to process the coffee beans. Due to this, coffee has a bit of acidity, pleasant sweetness, and intense flavors.


The harvest season has two rounds. The first is from March to June, which is when the largest quantities of coffee are produced. The second period occurs in the fall – between September and December. Of course, this factor cannot be underestimated when it comes to making high-quality coffee. Having just a good climate is not enough. Perhaps one of the reasons why coffee is so special in Colombia is the fact that every single bean is picked by hand. Although it might seem unbelievable, each of the nearly 600 000 coffee producers does it with their hands. This is important because a machine cannot tell apart beans that are not ready or are overripe. A human being can select only the best.


Colombian coffees are grown mainly in two regions, mostly on steep slopes, dispersed with banana plants that provide shade and water. The area of Medellin, Armenia, and Manizales is known to have more rich flavors with balanced acidity. The region near Bogotá and Bucaramanga has even more intense flavors but is less acidic. Our coffee is grown in Medellin, Antioquia, and Colombia. When tasting a cup of our brew, you may notice notes of dried orange, berry, and chocolate. The reason why it may have such unique flavor profiles is impacted mainly by things like the weather, the elevation, and the differences in soil. Our coffee is grown in volcanic loam which is known to be highly nutritious.


The green (unroasted) beans are typically shipped to roasters out of Colombia to maintain the product as fresh as possible. Thankfully, green coffee beans can be conserved for a long time. Only when they are roasted at around 400 degrees, the beans change their ailment. Of course, the roasting process can be quite different from country to country, but in Colombia, they usually prefer a lighter roast.


Pride in the coffee-making process


What makes Colombian coffee so special is the people behind it. To meet the world's demand, all of the small farmers must work together. This has created a sense of pride for them, which is not easily found in large corporate farms. After all – love is the best ingredient you can add. The smaller farms can also focus more on the details and the quality of the coffee because they don't have to take care of large quantities.


Did you know that Colombia has its own coffee park? Yes, you read that right. The site is divided into two main sections. First includes a coffee-themed park, there you may discover different kinds of exhibits, a cemetery of indigenous tribes, and even a musical show that explains the story behind coffee culture in Colombia. The second section is the amusement park that every year hosts a couple of million guests. So for any coffee addict out there, visit the National Coffee Park is a must. And while you are it – make sure to have a cup of a delicious Colombian brew.