We get asked constantly where the best coffee in the world comes from and a conversation ensues. I start off with Ethiopia but follow with Colombia who has just as rigorous standards, as strong of a coffee culture, and as optimal an environmental offering. Though it lacks the biodiversity of coffee species Ethiopia has, it is home to hundreds of thousands of highly skilled professionals pushing the boundaries of quality. Colombia is ubiquitous in coffee.
Colombia’s notoriety in coffee is attributed partly to the gargantuan effort that the FNC (National Coffee Growers Federation) has made for decades to highlight this origin on the world stage but also by the wonderful climatic offering and altitude that the country possesses, with some regions towering over 2000 meters above sea level.
The FNC is a quasi-state owned nonprofit that “looks after” the coffee producers, they propel knowledge transfer, help build infrastructure, and sponsor the development of disease-resistant varieties. They also standardize quality.
Coffee production is a source of pride for Colombians, and producers are pushing the envelope in advanced processing techniques setting a new standard for how exciting coffee can be.
Colombia’s expertise does not end at processing techniques, it extends to the type of varieties being grown there.
Colombian coffee comes almost exclusively from arabica cultivars such as Castillo, Caturra, and Typicas with a recent resurgence of ancient varietals such as Eugenoides (Arabica’s parent) and exotics like Pink Bourbon, Laurina, and tons of Geisha.
Historically, the bulk of coffee production in Colombia has come from the coffee axis (Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindio) but there are a few other departments that have earned their place such as Huila and the aforementioned Cauca.
Colombian coffees span the flavor spectrum, this is an origin you could explore for the rest of your life and still not taste all the goodness the country has to offer. With the current momentum specialty coffee has gained in producing nations, it is beyond exciting to be sourcing coffees from here and to see how far it can go.