Colombia is the third largest producer of coffee in the world today (surpassed only by Brazil and Vietnam) and the largest producer of Arabica beans. Colombian coffee has often been given the accolade of being the best coffee in the world. And if you have tasted a cup of it you will soon see why. Colombia grows some of the best single origin coffee due to its ideal growing conditions and wet processing methods. We have selected the best Colombian coffee brands to give you a great starting point.
Colombian Coffee History
Why is Colombia so good for growing coffee?
Colombia is a country with many regions that provides ideal growing conditions for Arabica plants. The diverse climate and landscape enables them to produce a huge variety of coffees and also to harvest coffee all year round. The coffee trees in Colombia yield two harvests each year; the main harvest and the second harvest. Colombia is unique in that it exclusively produces Arabica Coffee beans (not robusta) with the majority of these being processed using the wet or washed method. With the perfect growing conditions and care taken in harvesting and processing the beans, it is no wonder the coffee from Colombia is such high quality and so sought after.
What does Colombian Coffee Taste Like?
Given the large variety of coffees produced in Colombia there are a huge range of flavors, so it is hard to nail down the taste.
Colombian coffees generally have a strong aroma, with a medium body and high acidity. They are well balanced with a clean, mild flavor. The flavor profile usually has fruity or floral notes with undertones of chocolate, caramel and sugar cane. The aroma can be fruity or citrusy with hints of spice.
Colombian Coffees have a huge range of flavours, from the heavier, chocolatier coffees through to jammy, sweet, fruity lots. A huge spectrum of flavours exists across the regions.James Hoffman, World Atlas of Coffee
The Best Colombian Coffee
Given the vast options available it can be hard to know what are the best Colombian coffee brands to opt for. We have created a list with our top seven Colombian Coffees to give you a great starting point. However we highly recommend also visiting your local café or coffee roaster which often sell their own brands of Colombian Coffee.
Volcanica coffee is a specialty coffee roaster that sells over 120 different types of coffees including single origin, estate, peaberry, decaf and flavored coffees. They source their beans from volcanic regions around the world. Colombian Supremo coffee is grown at a high altitude in the Colombian Andes (Central zone). It has a smooth body with medium acidity. The flavor profile is sweet, with fruity and nutty notes. This coffee is also available in a decaf option. This is a well balanced coffee with the perfect amount of sweetness and acidity.
Don Pablo was founded by a Colombian woman and her American husband in 1989. The company sources green coffee beans and then roasts them in small batches at roasteries across the US, to ensure freshness. Colombian Supremo is a mild coffee with a smooth finish. It is roasted medium to dark bringing out more roasty flavors. The coffee has a medium body with balanced acidity and notes of citrus, chocolate and walnuts.
Peaberry coffee is a rare mutation that occurs where there is only one coffee bean inside the coffee cherry rather than two and makes up about 5% of a harvest. Peaberries are considered to be superior in flavor, they generally have a bright acidity and sweetness and a more complex flavor profile. Volcanica’s Colombian Peaberry coffee is a silky smooth coffee with hints of cherry, chocolate and malt.
Out of the Grey Coffee is a company that specialises in producing fairtrade, organic coffee. They roast their coffee in small batches, to order to ensure you get the freshest coffee possible. Their Colombian Supremo Viennese is a single origin colombian coffee that is dark roasted. It has a complex flavor profile with deep, roasty flavors and dark chocolate and citrus notes. The coffee has a rich, syrupy mouthfeel and finish. They also have this in a decaf option. Out of the grey is a good option if you don’t have a grinder as they offer whole beans or an impressive option of six different grind levels depending on your brewing method.
Juan Valdez is a Colombian based company named after the iconic Colombian coffee farmer. They have a large range of Colombian Coffees available from different regions. Their Certified Organic coffee is medium roasted coffee that has a rich flavor profile with mild acidity, working well as a mellow breakfast blend.
Koffee Kult offers another medium roasted colombian coffee. This blend of coffee is sourced from the Huila region of Colombia (Southern Zone) and is grown at high altitudes. The coffee has a smooth flavor with a heavy body. Its flavor profile is bright with hints of cinnamon and chocolate.
Java planet is dedicated to producing great tasting coffee that is good for the planet. All of their coffee is USDA organic certified. Their Colombian single origin coffee is a dark roasted coffee that has a full body with rich, dark roasty flavors and low acidity. Their colombian single origin beans have an impressive list of certifications including Organic, Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance and Bird Friendly ensuring you are making a sustainable choice.
The Best Colombian Coffee?
Any of the Colombian coffee brands on this list are a good place to start if you are looking to try some high quality Colombian coffee! We highly recommend Volcanica Colombian Supremo as the best Colombian coffee on our list. The coffee is Fair trade and rainforest certified so you know you are making an ethical choice. Volcanica also offers it in whole beans or ground for drip, espresso, or French press. They also often have sales so you can get it at a great price! Check it out today!
Growing Coffee in Colombia
Because of the diverse landscape and climates, Colombia is able to grow many varieties of coffees, with each region having their own unique flavors. Colombia is separated into 4 main growing zones:
The Northern regions only have one dry season and one wet season. Coffee is generally harvested from October to November. The coffee here is generally grown at lower altitudes with higher temperatures. As a result a lot of the coffee is shade grown, to help it ripen slower. The coffee from these regions are full bodied but have less acidity. The flavor profile has traces of nuts and chocolate.
This zone has two dry and two wet seasons leading to two harvest seasons in October-December and May-June. The central zone has some of the most well known coffee regions including the Colombia triangle (or coffee belt) made up of Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío which produce a large amount of coffee. The coffee produced in this zone is renowned for being premium colombian coffee. The coffee has a balanced flavor profile with medium acidity and body and a strong aroma.
The Southern region of Colombia is closer to the equator and the coffee here is grown at higher altitudes. The higher altitudes allows the beans to ripen more slowly and develop more flavor. While these farms generally have a lower yield their coffee is some of the most sought after in the country. There is just one wet and dry season and thus one harvest from April to June. This region is known for high quality coffee; with distinct flavor profiles and high acidity.
In this zone are the 3 regions: Nariño, Cauca, and Huila which have started to be described as the new colombian coffee triangle. These regions produce huge amounts of coffee but have also gained a reputation with the specialty coffee movement. Coffees from these regions have strong aromas and distinct fruity and caramel notes with sweet acidity.
This final coffee producing zone is much smaller than the rest. The region is similar in climate to the Northern region but has more rainfall and thus higher humidity.
With the diverse growing regions and climates, Colombia is able to offer freshly harvested coffee throughout the year, with different varieties and flavor profiles.
Colombia is unique in that it’s coffee is almost exclusively wet processed. This is where the fruit covering the beans is removed before the coffee is dried. Wet processed coffee generally has a bright, fruity, clean profile with higher acidity.
Grading of Colombian Coffee
Colombian coffee is divided into categories according to the size of the bean, rather than the quality. The idea behind this is that the larger the bean is, the more flavor it will have. Their highest grade of coffee is known as the Supremo with only the largest beans being sold under this label. They have a second grade known as Excelso which is slightly smaller.
If you are buying coffee marketed under these labels be aware that it is most likely a blend of coffee from different farms. However with the speciality coffee movement there are now a lot more single origin coffees available. If you are looking for a single origin coffee look for coffee from a distinct place rather than size.
Roasting of Colombian Coffee
Light Roast: this is a good option if you are wanting to highlight particular flavor profiles. Light roasted coffee has a bright, clean flavor profile with higher acidity. This is particularly good to highlight the unique origin flavors.
Medium to Dark Roast: These roasts generally have a richer, deeper body with a more intense flavor and aroma. Colombian coffees are able to be roasted quite dark without turning overly bitter.
How to make Colombian Coffee?
When it comes to brewing with Colombian coffee it really depends on the origin of the beans and the roast level.
Espresso is a safe option. Colombian beans are known to be good for espresso as they can be roasted dark without turning overly bitter. This is a good way to highlight the body and aroma of Colombian Coffee.
Aeropress is one of our favorite ways to enjoy colombian coffee, especially single origin colombian coffee. The balanced taste and smooth mouthfeel is well suited to aeropress.See our article on how to brew Aeropress here.
What are the different types of coffee commonly grown in Colombia?
Colombia grows a lot of different coffee varieties. The most common ones are Caturra, Maragogupe, Tabi, Typica, Bourbon, Catillo and Colombia varieties.
Arabica vs Colombian Coffee
There are two main types of coffee plants: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is considered to produce the more superior coffee beans and is used for growing specialty coffee with well balanced, complex flavors. On the other hand Robusta is a lower grade coffee that is easier to grow but produces a strong coffee that is more bitter. Robusta is commonly used to produce instant coffee. 75% of all coffee beans produced in the world are Arabica type.
Colombian Coffee is coffee that has been grown in Colombia. All the coffee produced in Colombia is of the Arabica type, however they have several distinctives that make colombian coffee sought after. Colombia has ideal growing conditions for coffee, with rich volcanic soil, high altitudes for growing and a good amount of rainfall. These factors all contribute to the high quality beans that are produced in Colombia. In addition to this all the beans are wet processed which leads to a clean cup of coffee with distinct fruity and floral flavors.