For coffee lovers in Bogota – and around Colombia – today was an exciting day. The largest coffee fair in Latin America, Cafes de Colombia Expo, got off to a caffeinated start.
The fair will run four days, until this Saturday afternoon when it will close with the national barista championship finals.
This coffee fair is mainly focused on the coffee industry (think big espresso machines, depulpers, and fertilizers) but every year it becomes more appealing to the average consumer.
This is your chance to taste literally hundreds of coffees, from standard to the highest quality. If you’re a lover of specialty coffees, you can find all the best specialty coffee shops present under one roof – Azahar, Amor Perfecto, Cafe San Alberto, Varietale, Devocion and more.
What makes Colombia an ideal place to taste coffee?
At the fair’s inauguration ceremony Roberto Vélez, CEO of the National Coffee Federation, spoke about the diverse flavors you’ll find in Colombian coffee. While countries can become known for producing a type of coffee (just as they can become known for producing a type of wine or chocolate) there can be more to taste than what simply hits the taste buds first.
The world of coffee is huge, and Colombia has incredible variations in climate, soil, rain and sun from one end of the country to the other. All those variations – as well as the coffee varieties a farmer plants and the way he or she processes the cherry – can create incredibly different tastes in the cup.
Which means that Colombia has a vast variety of flavors and characteristics to offer. And specialty coffee, the fastest growing segment in the industry, has even more to offer. After all, Colombia is the largest provider of specialty coffee in the world, so there’s a lot to choose from.
Why should the 100% Colombian coffee label impress us?
Living in Colombia, we constantly hear the phrase “100% Colombian coffee” as a positive selling point. We could take that for granted, but back in the 1960s when Colombia first started using that phrase, it was a new idea. Up to that point, coffees were nameless and faceless blends from all around the world. When people were offered the concept of a coffee with personality – a geography, a country, a people, a name – the idea caught on.
We’ve moved on since the 1960s, of course. Now we don’t just want to know about a country, we want to know about a region. A state. A municipality. A farm. That’s when we can truly appreciate the regional characteristics of a coffee, when we can say “My favorite coffee comes from this town (or this farm).” Does that sound farfetched to you? It’s not – I have my favorite town that never lets me down, as do many coffee experts.
And Colombian coffee can give you that specific characteristic you’re looking for. You want fruity? Colombia has incredible coffees with berry or citrus notes that will knock your socks off. Chocolatey? Look for coffees from La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta or Santander. If you want something dark, soothing and comforting, you’ll also find it. If you want a tea-like brew, you can get that too.
And coffee isn’t just about the tastes in your cup. It’s about a brighter future. For many farmers, growing illicit crops has been a way of life. But when they can switch their crops to coffee or cacao, their lives change. As Roberto Vélez affirms, “A farmer who stops growing illicit crops and starts growing coffee speaks of his past with shame – and of his present with pride.”
What you’ll do at the fair
So what can you, a coffee consumer, do at the fair? There’s a full academic agenda that discusses matters close to a coffee grower’s heart, such as varieties and soils. But there are also subjects like coffee exportation, which appeals to more and more people.
And with more than 5,200 square meters of expo space and more than 100 individuals and companies showing off their goods – as well as the many coffee growers present who love to discuss their projects – there’s plenty to see and talk about.
There will be cupping competitions, brewing competitions, and baritsta competitions. Coffee will be auctioned off, including some of the best microlots of this year. And many many cups of coffee will be brewed and slurped.
Spanish is a must, though.
Get all the information on the fair’s website, CafesdeColombiaExpo.com.
Come learn about specialty coffees in Colombia with us. Join us for a Specialty Coffee Shop Tour.