COFFEE GROWING REGIONS PART TWO. 🇨🇴
Welcome to our Coffee Education Series at Mad Priest, Educate the Curious! First we are going to be focusing on the three main coffee growing regions: Africa (Yemen), Latin America (Colombia), and Asia (Sumatra).
This week, we'll be learning about coffee grown in Latin America, specifically Colombia! This video We Bring Origin to You: Colombia, Delivering Excellence Year-Round and describes the beauty of Colombia and its coffee. It’s from our partners at Caravela Coffee, who import most of our Latin American coffees.
QUICK COLOMBIA FACTS
- The first coffee seeds came from the Caribbean islands through Venezuela more than two centuries ago.
- Colombia has two coffee harvest cycles, making it easier to access fresh coffee at any point throughout the year. This is why we have the ability to offer our Colombia | Los Naranjos all year, and why it's a main component of our blends.
- Coffees grown in Colombia (and most of Latin America) tend to be clean and medium-bodied with notes of chocolate, citrus, nut, and caramel, but can also be floral, juicy, and quite fruity depending on the variety (pink bourbon, geisha, etc).
- The most common processing method of Colombia is washed.
Colombia is mystical, diverse, and simply spectacular. It’s the only country in South America with coasts on both the Pacific and the Atlantic and a country with a diversity of people and cultures, culinary, but also of topographies, climates, and ecosystems. This diversity, nourished by rich soils and the climatic confluences of the Pacific, Andes, and Amazon, makes Colombia a sweet spot that fosters year-round coffee production and harvests of remarkable quality and consistency. Colombia is a nation proud of the coffee it produces, and is the third largest coffee producing country in the world!
"High-altitude coffees are often the most sought-after Colombian crops. When well cared for, the cooler mountain temperatures can allow the cherries to ripen more slowly. In turn, this leads to more acidic, aromatic, and flavourful beverages (but also a lower yield).
What’s more, the cooler temperatures mean there’s a decreased risk of pest infestations. Pests can reduce yield and damage both trees and cherries. This can affect both the flavour of the final cup and how heat is transferred during roasting. Too many pest-damaged cherries in a lot and the coffee will not be considered specialty."
- Angie Katherine Molina Ospina at Perfect Daily Grind
Colombian coffees in general are highly praised, and Colombia is the third largest coffee producing country in the world! (It was second in the world for a while but then set back by Vietnam’s rapidly increasing Robusta production.)
Legend says that colonizers of New Granada tried to get people to grow coffee but they didn't want to when they learned it would take 5 plus years to harvest. Here’s the dark side. Jesuit priests used the church as a coffee marketing tool – plant coffee trees instead of tithe of money to the church. Another story says that a priest, after hearing the confession of the parishioners, required as penance the cultivation of coffee.
Cultivation grew over the years, with the first shipment of coffee overseas to the USA in 1835. Later there was an aggressive marketing campaign in the 1950s by the National Federation of Coffee Growers.
THE OTHER DARK SIDE…
Whew, the beautiful country of Colombia has been through a heck of a lot in recent years. Five decades of armed conflict (the longest running civil war in Latin America) between the Colombian government, guerilla groups such as the FARC and ELN, paramilitaries, and narco-traffickers has cost the lives of an estimated 50,000 - 200,000 people and has displaced millions of others. Yes that's a huge number! It is the largest displacement crisis in the Western Hemisphere, and constitutes the seventh largest refugee population in the world. A peace agreement was signed in 2016 between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that ended hostilities. But many challenges remain, especially with the battle for control of rural Colombia’s illegal economies like the drug trade.
After so many years of upheaval, coffee production in areas that had been dominated by guerrillas is making a comeback. "Coffee will be a dividend of peace in Colombia," said President Juan Manuel Santos, recent Nobel Prize winner. Many coffee farms are also currently growing the coca (cocaine) that was used to finance the FARC.
But coffee is a good alternative for those looking to move out of illicit crops because it also brings in good money, especially the higher quality beans. And larger companies from Nespresso to Olam Specialty Importers and Caravela have been involved in helping specialty coffee grow. Unfortunately most of the specialty coffee is exported, so many Colombians haven't experienced how amazing their coffee is.
Want to try some coffee from Colombia? Check this out!