Listening to barista talk about coffee

Tasting Coffee in Colombia

100% Colombian coffee – that expression is known around the world. Coffee has been one of Colombia’s most steady exports for decades. But is tasting coffee in Colombia a different experience?

Typically, Colombians drink what they call tinto, heavily sweetened black coffee served in small cups. Later in the morning and in the afternoon they’ll often have café con leche, which usually mixes large amounts of milk with small amounts of coffee.

Over the past decade companies like Juan Valdez, which is often considered the image of Colombian coffee around the world, and other coffee companies have begun to elevate the coffee experience in Bogota. Smaller coffeehouses have sprung up that are seriously dedicated to improving the coffee experience in Bogota in terms of the origin and quality of the beans and the roasting process.

Where the coffee comes from

But where does all this coffee come from? Coffee growing regions are scattered around Colombia, from the extreme north all the way down south, following a path through the Andes Mountains. Some areas have rather exotic sounding names like Santander, Huila, Nariño, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and Quindío. These regions are subject to different ecosystems and climates, and are affected by differing cycles of rain, altitude, and temperature. All of these influence what you’ll find in your cup of coffee.

For instance, in the south of Colombia, closer to the Equator, coffee is grown at higher altitudes – but the temperatures are lower. So coffees grown in Nariño or Huila are more acidic and can appeal to a more sophisticated palate.

Coffees grown in the north of Colombia are found at lower altitudes and higher temperatures, and are more exposed to sunlight.  That means that coffees from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta or Santander have lower acidity and more body.

Love coffee? Come with us on a coffee adventure! Find out about our Coffee Shop Tours.

Tasting coffee in Colombia

In Colombia, coffee culture is slowly changing. More and more Colombians are discovering how amazing those single estate coffees can be, and coffee shops are emphasizing these regions more and more, with expert baristas explaining the characteristics of each region to eager coffee drinkers.

At some of these coffeehouses, international methods are used that bring out the distinct strengths of each bean. Besides the well-known French Press, some other methods available in Bogota are Syphon, Chemex, and Aeropress.

Aeropress infusion in Bogota

Coffee future

Coffee will be part of the future of Colombia as much as it’s been part of it’s past. However, the future can hold more than just selling the beans to other countries. Colombians are starting to realize the added value they can bring to the coffee experience.

They are producing coffees from small single estates or lots, roasting select beans on-premises on coffee farms scattered around the country, packaging these select, organic, fair trade beans and exporting them. This gives Colombians and visitors a truly unique experience; drinking regional coffees that can’t be found elsewhere, in an environment that you have to come to Colombia to fully experience.

It also means a future to many young men and women in the cities, baristas who become an extension of the hard work of the coffee farmers.

They come to understand the beans and their characteristics, they learn to roast them to bring out individual nuances, then prepare each type of bean according to the best method, and transmit their knowledge to clients. Their enthusiasm and dedication – really, at times, almost devotion – to communicate this special product of Colombia gives visitors a glimpse of one of the most treasured things about Colombia – the people.

Now that’s coffee culture in Colombia.

Love coffee? Come with us on a coffee adventure! Find out about our Coffee Shop Tours.

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