Colombia is the third largest coffee-producing country in the world and, until the recent recent arrival of Vietnam – which produces almost entirely Robusta – Colombia was second only to Brazil.
Coffee was first cultivated commercially in Colombia in the mid-1830s and during the twentieth century was the country’s main export crop. A mountainous topography and many tropical micro-climates gives much of Colombia ideal growing conditions.
Colombia has around 875,000 hectares planted with coffee. The main coffee varietals that are grown today include Caturra, Colombia, Tipica, Bourbon, Maragogype and Tabi. Farms and co-ops – large and small – are tended by more than 500,000 coffee growers located throughout 590 municipalities and 14 principal coffee regions – Nariño, Cauca, Meta, Huila, Tolima, Quindio, Caldas, Risaralda, Antioquia, Valle, Cundinamarca, Boyacá, Santander and Norte de Santander.
In total, an estimated 2,000,000 Colombians depend on coffee and the together they generate some 12.5% of the agricultural GDP. Coffee is a vital source of foreign revenues and 75% of the production is exported worldwide.
Traditionally the ripe cherries have been processed using the washed method, although in the last 15 years the Centre for Coffee Investigation (Cenicafé) has developed an ecological system that uses very little water, reduces contamination of local water sources by 90% and reduces water consumption by 95%. This dry pulping method has proven reliable not just in preserving the eco-system but also in guaranteeing a consistent cup quality.
The drying process in much of Colombia is unique – small-holder farmers spread the parchment across the flat roofs (or ‘elvas’) of their houses to dry in the sun. Polytunnels are also used in farms with high altitude and cold weather conditions.
The diversity found across Colombia is enormous and coffee is harvested practically year-round depending on the region. The main harvest takes place from October to February with November and December being the peak months. There is also a second fly (or 'mitaca') crop several months later, again varying by region and micro climate.
We usually ship our coffees for arrival in January/February and around 6 months later in July/August.