When shopping for coffee it may sometimes be easy to be confused when looking at the labels. There may be some coffees that say “100% Colombian Coffee” while others say “Original Colombian” and so on. There are many different types of coffee beans and I am here to clear up any misunderstandings about Colombian coffee.
The main difference between Colombian coffee and all other coffees is the growing conditions. Colombian coffee beans will always be Arabica beans, higher quality beans. The thing that really sets it apart is the growing conditions that enhance the flavor of the bean due to elevation, soil, and sunlight.
Types of Coffee Beans
Within the coffee genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae, there are two types of beans that are used for coffee. These two coffee beans are called robusta and arabica. As stated before arabica is the higher quality bean.
Arabica beans tend to have a sweeter taste, with a softer bitterness flavor. This gives you a more well-rounded coffee. There will be different flavor tones such as fruit, berries, and sugar with the deeper normal coffee flavors.
Robusta has a harsher and darker flavor. They are considered inferior beans because they are easier to grow and have a less complex flavor profile. An easy way to tell if you have robusta beans is the shape.
Robusta beans are more circular while arabica beans are oval-shaped. Taste-wise robusta beans will have ea burnt or even rubbery taste. This may be due to the amount of caffeine contained in the beans. robusta beans have twice the amount of caffeine as arabica.
One thing to be wary of, especially in pre-blended coffee or combinations is the use of robusta beans as a filler or cost reducer. If the coffee is pre-ground and is a blend of different beans it may have low-quality robusta beans mixed in. However, it is up to personal preference. The dark harshness of robusta beans can be good for a blend and mellow out the floral and sweet arabica beans.
How Growing Conditions Effect Coffee Flavor
Each country has different growing conditions and as a result the taste of each coffee bean may be a little different. Even if the same coffee bean is grow the difference in growing conditions will create a huge difference in flavor.
This is why Colombian coffee is legendary in the coffee world. Colombian coffee has all the necessary conditions to grow great coffee; There is high elevation, great soil, plenty of sunlight, and enough rain.
Colombian coffee is grown at the right elevation
All the best coffee comes from between 1200 – 1800 meters above sea level. For people who don’t use the metric system that is .74 – 1.11 miles above sea level. Colombia is one of the only places that have this elevation with the rest of the growing conditions to grow coffee.
By growing at higher altitudes it has a number of benefits for the coffee bean. Being higher up slows the normal growth cycle of the coffee plant and allows the bean to mature for a longer time. This imbues the coffee bean for more flavor and allows complex sugars to form.
There is also better drainage for the coffee plants at high altitudes and reduces the amount of water the plant is absorbing. As a result the coffee fruits themselves will be smaller and contain less water. This turns the coffee fruit and the coffee bean into flavor bombs full of compacted flavor. Think of it as dry aged steak vs regular steak.
Colombian coffee is grown in fertile volcanic soil
Like any other plant coffee plants need soils full of minerals and nutrients so they can grow to their maximum potential. Colombia is one of the few places that has great soil in a habitable location for plants.
Colombia has volcanic soil which is created by volcanoes. Usually, we think volcanoes may leave more harm than good, but that is not the case, thousands of years in the future. Volcanic deposits create a rich, nutrient-dense soil that is perfect for plants to grow in.
Coffee plants that are grown in volcanic soil produce beans that are incredibly smooth, less acidic, and contain a deeper rich flavor.
Perfect temperature, rain, and sunlight for growing coffee
In Colombia there is the perfect growing conditions for coffee plants. It is like there is a greenhouse with the perfect temperature for growing coffee plants.
There is a naturally humid climate with indirect sunlight.
The best growing conditions for the coffee plant is temperatures between 21 – 22 degrees Celsius with 1,800 hours of sunshine annually and around 1,500 – 2,000 mm of rainfall.
If the temperature is too high and there is too much sun the best option is to grow the coffee plants under trees. The trees will provide shade during the dry season and lower the temperature for the coffee plants. This is how approximately 40% of the coffee beans in Colombia are grown according to the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation.
How Colombian Coffee is Processed
The thing that makes Colombian coffee special is not just the growing conditions, but the care that is put into picking and processing the beans.
Every Colombian coffee bean is handpicked, yes every single one! All of the nearly 600,000 Colombian coffee bean farms handpick all their coffee cherries.
This is due to the plants being grown under trees and on the steep slopes of Colombia. As a result, only the best and ripest coffee fruits are picked. A machine cannot determine the ripeness of fruit as a farmer can. Only the best fruits are picked and used to be turned into Colombian coffee.
All the beans are exclusively wet-processed. This is when water is used to separate the pulp from the seed. This results in a cleaner, brighter, and fruitier coffee and makes it a good fit for the fruity arabica beans grown in Colombia.
Colombian Coffee Flavor Notes and Profile
Most of the Colombian coffee will be a medium-bodied brew with a rich, light citrus-like acidity and flavor. You may be able to taste a fruity flavor depending on the bean.
The most common notes to describe Colombian coffee’s flavor profile are cola, cherry, orange, vanilla, chocolate, florals, and apple flavors.
This is due to the inherent sweetness in the coffee which brings out many complex flavors.
My Favorite Colombian Coffee Beans
As a coffee lover, I love Colombian coffee. Here are my top picks that you can get online. My favorite has to be Don Pablo’s premium Colombian coffee because of the high customer service and brand history.
Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee, Signature Blend
The is the classic Colombian coffee. There are citrus notes with the cocoa, chocolate finish that we all love. Don Pablo’s Colombian coffee is slow roasted and made to order every time it is ordered. They ensure customer satisfaction and is extremely responsive to customer requests.
This brand of coffee goes back all the way to 1989 when it was founded by a man and his wife. It is a family-owned company and it has been going strong for the last 30 years providing authentic Colombian coffee flavor. Check the price on Amazon and read the customer reviews!
Volcanica Colombian Peaberry Coffee
Volcanica is one of my favorite brands for great coffee beans from around the world. This bag of Colombian coffee beans is no different.
These are organically grown and Fair Trade coffee beans. Each bag contains beans that are handpicked and traditionally grown. All the beans are grown in shade so they have a rich flavor and a smooth finish.
They are part of the Rainforest Alliance and abide by sustainable coffee growing regulations. If you’re looking for a great coffee that does not destroy the environment, Volcanica is the right choice. Many other coffee lovers left glowing reviews on Amazon!
Juan Valdez Colombian Organic Coffee
Last but not least we have the legendary Juan Valdez brand Colombian coffee. Juan Valdez is the face of the Colombian coffee industry and there is a demand for this coffee world wide.
While Juan Valdez isn’t a real person, the coffee this brand sells is the real deal. There is no bitter aftertaste and there is strong and rich flavor that is exactly what I am looking for when drinking coffee. Click here to see what other customers on Amazon said about this coffee.
How to Brew Colombian Coffee
Now that you have your beans picked out there are several ways you can use to brew your coffee to highlight the strengths of this bean.
Depending on the roast you may want to brew with an espresso machine, Aeropress, or however you prefer. Remember, the best way to brew your coffee is the way you like it!
Using your beans as espresso is great because they are high in acidity and can be roasted dark and brewed strong without the risk of being too bitter. The high acidity and sweetness make it a good pairing with milk for lattes and other espresso drinks.
The Aeropress is often cited as one of the better brewing methods for Colombian coffee. This is because the smooth and full bodied brew makes them well suited for the Aeropress. There are often Aeropress competitions in Colombia which helps the coffee community grow and advance the coffee knowledge in Colombia.
The Coffee Bean Crisis and Future of Colombian Coffee
There have been varying sources that cite a coffee crisis in the near future. There have been some practices put in place to protect farmers in Colombia.
According to the Colombian Coffee Federation, they have pledged sustainability for Colombia’s coffee industry by 2027. This will improve the outlook for the coffee farmers if this is achieved.
This matters because there are many municipalities in Colombia and most of these producers are small farmers, not large businesses. These farmers rely on the coffee industry to survive and they don’t know what sustainability so they need to be educated so the Colombian coffee industry can survive.
At least 42% of Colombian farmers have this sustainability certification, but it needs to be higher. The coffee industry is living on borrowed time and sustainability needs to be achieved so the future generations will not be harmed.