An Exploration of Colombia’s Unique Coffee Culture
There is more to coffee from Colombia than meets the eye. From crop fields to cafes, this drink undergoes a long journey before it reaches your home. Colombia is specially designed to create the best coffee in the world. From its unique environment to its farming culture, this country is perfectly made for coffee production.
Read on to discover how coffee found its way onto Colombia’s center stage.
Why Coffee from Colombia is Unique
Coffee from Colombia is unlike any other coffee in the world. This country’s unique landscape, climate, and environment enable it to create unique flavors of the highest quality.
Geography and Environment
To fully appreciate the perfection of Colombian coffee, you first have to understand a little bit of geography. Colombia’s unique environment makes it one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Its volcanic soil and high mountains actually contribute to the quality of its coffee. The Andes mountain range flows through Colombia allowing for optimal growing space. Normally, you probably wouldn’t try to grow crops on a mountain, but this high altitude is perfect for coffee beans. When planted at high altitudes, up to 6,400 feet, Colombian coffee beans grow more acidic and have better flavor.
Types of Coffee from Colombia
In the U.S., you probably see different types of Coffee labeled by country. However, in Colombia, this isn’t the case. This country’s diverse landscape enables each of its regions to create a unique coffee bean flavor. As a result, coffee is labeled by region or even sub-region. Try coffee from Huila Colombia or Cauca and see if you can taste the difference!
Most coffee from Colombia is made from arabica beans. Arabica and robusta are the two main types of coffee beans. Arabica beans have a sweeter and lighter flavor compared to robusta ones.
Although Colombia prides itself on creating some of the highest quality coffee beans, most Colombians never get to taste them. The best coffee from Colombia is saved for exportation while the lower quality coffee is left for domestic consumption. This lower quality coffee is known as tinto, or “inky water”. It’s the most popular type of coffee in Colombia since it’s widely available at a cheap price. It’s sort of like ordering a plain black cup of coffee in the U.S.
Colombia’s Coffee Culture
Coffee is more than just a drink option in Colombia. It’s an essential piece to its economy, culture, and livelihood. This crop helps fuel the country and many workers rely on it for income. Additionally, drinking coffee plays a huge social role in Colombian culture. Coffee is a part of the country’s national identity.
Coffee Spokesperson Juan Valdez
Every good product has an image. Juan Valdez has been the face of Colombian coffee for decades. This marketing plan began in the 1950s and helped distinguish Colombian coffee from other coffee brands. Juan Valdez is a fictional character played by real actors. His large mustache and signature white hat help him stand out. His loyal donkey companion also finds his way into most images and commercials. Juan Valdez may not be a real person, but that doesn’t make Colombians any less proud of him.
It’s Not Just for the Caffeine
Many Americans can’t start their day without a steaming cup of joe to wake them up. They rely on expresso’s high caffeine to get them through the work day. In Colombia, however, coffee isn’t a vehicle for caffeine. Instead, it’s a social drink. People gather around and share coffee time together while creating lasting memories.
Colombians Drink Coffee at Night
American coffee shops open bright and early so that morning coffee drinkers can get their caffeine for the day. Colombian shops on the other hand don’t experience this same morning rush. Instead, their popular times are 3pm and 7pm.
Colombia’s Cultivation and Exportation of Coffee
Before Colombian coffee finds its way into your cup, it goes through a long and difficult journey. From growth to exportation, Colombian coffee producers focus intently on the coffee beans to ensure a perfect flavor in each cup.
Coffee is one of the largest exports from Colombia making this crop an essential piece of the economy. As a result, high quality coffee goes through a rigorous testing process before being exported. Coffee from Colombia is tested, insected, and evaluated multiple times before being sent off. This ensures that low grade coffee is separated from the high quality crops.
Colombian Coffee is a Family Business
Although it might be more efficient to machine-harvest coffee beans, Colombia prides itself on its hand-harvested coffee. This technique results in a higher quality product while also increasing employment of small farmers. One of the largest sources of rural employment for Colombia is coffee growing. In fact, there are over 560,000 coffee farms in Colombia alone. Yes, around 95% of Colombian coffee is grown on plots of about 5 acres run by family operations.
With more than 2 million Colombians relying on coffee production as a source of income, it’s not surprising that Colombia is the 3rd largest exporter of coffee in the world. Clearly many countries enjoy importing Colombian coffee for its quality taste. In fact, exporting coffee from Colombia uses up 75% of the country’s production.
Bring Coffee from Colombia into Your Own Home
Since coffee is an important part of the Colombian economy, many businesses make it easy to buy coffee from Colombia online. Retailers like Colombian Coffee and Premium Colombian Coffee offer authentic coffee from Colombia at consumer prices.
If you prefer to have a barista make your cup for you, then you can go to one of the many cafes that offer Colombian coffee. Starbucks, for example, is one of the top buys for Colombian coffee. You can try out Starbucks coffee from Colombia by visiting one of their local cafes or even buying their beans online.
Experience Colombia for Yourself
The best way to learn about Colombian coffee is by visiting the country! Colombia has insightful coffee tours, a gorgeous Flower Festival, and so much more. There are dozens of unique activities and culturals sights to visit. Be sure to practice your Colombian slang and these useful Colombian Spanish phrases to prepare for your trip!
Sign Up for a Free Spanish Class
Learning Spanish enables you to easily visit Colombia and dozens of other Spanish-speaking countries. Travel the world easier by signing up for a free Spanish class with Homeschool Spanish Academy. Our certified teachers from Guatemalan can prepare you for your trip abroad with key travel vocabulary and phrases. Sign up today and start speaking Spanish after just one class!
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