Colombians not only grow coffee, they love it. However, they love it in a different way than I would have expected.
Typically, they drink rather weak coffee with a good dose of sugar in it. They drink mini quantities of it throughout the day and into the night without, it seems, being affected by the caffeine.
Another surprise for me was how Colombians make coffee.
How Colombians brew coffee
I watched a Colombian grandmother make coffee in a way that shocked my American roots.
She heated water in an aluminum pan, and when it was fully boiling she scooped generous amounts of Sello Rojo brand coffee into the water.
As the water boiled and the coffee moved vigorously along with it, she commented, “We have to make it this way to get any flavor out of it. This coffee isn’t very good.”
She stirred the grinds in the water, gazed into the pot for a bit, and turned off the flame.
We stared at the pot together.
I wondered what we were waiting for.
She peered into the pot. “The grinds are still floating.”
They were. Proof they were dead?
So I asked, “And…?”
“We have to wait for them to settle to the bottom.”
She blew on the grinds gently, and what do you know, they sunk. She carefully poured off a bit of that coffee into a very small cup (without using a filter) and held it out to me with a smile.
I smiled back. And yes, I took the cup. I sipped it. And you know what, it was so good. Really.
That was my first taste of coffee made in Colombia. They call it tinto.
Other brewing techniques
That gives you an idea of how coffee is at times made in Colombia. Sometimes it’s put through a sock. Well, not literally through a used sock, but it’s a cloth bag that looks like a sock, held together with a thick wire.
And often the coffee is made early in the morning and left to sit in a pot on the back of the stove, and then is reheated, none too gently, every time someone wants a bit of coffee. The same brew can be reheated several times throughout the day.
Why am I telling you this? Because it leads up to a quiet coffee revolution that is taking place in Colombia – the specialty coffee revolution. Check out our other articles on coffee and our Specialty Coffee Shop Tour to learn more about this trend in Bogota.