Colombian coffee. What to say about a country that has a whole museum dedicated to coffee? And a theme park, too, for good measure.
All that we can really say is that Colombia is one of the most famous coffee-producing nations in the world and that its coffee is seen as something of the holy grail amongst coffee enthusiasts.
In this article, we’ll go over a selection of 8 of the best Colombian coffee beans on the market right now, then we will go over the history of Colombian coffee, as well as what makes Colombian coffee so special.
- The 8 Best Colombian Coffee Beans on the Market
- Juan Valdez Coffee Organic Gourmet
- Eight O'Clock Coffee 100% Colombian Peaks
- AmazonFresh Colombia Whole Bean Coffee
- Don Francisco's 100% Colombia Supremo
- Copper Moon Colombian Blend
- SAN FRANCISCO BAY Coffee Colombian Supremo Whole Bean
- Java Planet Organic Coffee Beans
- Fresh Roasted Coffee, Colombian Supremo
- History of Colombian Coffee
- Why is Colombian Coffee so Special?
- Regional variety in Colombia
- Best Brewing Methods for Colombian Coffee
- Tips for Roasting Colombian Coffee
The 8 Best Colombian Coffee Beans on the Market
Juan Valdez is a 100% Colombian brand. They make all their coffee in Colombia and are the number one most appreciated brand in the country; Juan Valdez is second to none for Colombian coffee drinkers.
In fact, Juan Valdez has many Starbucks-style stores that operate in many countries, particularly in Central and South America, and they are extremely popular.
This coffee is the maximum expression of great Colombian coffee. It is one of the best that this brand has to offer:
- It has a very balanced flavor, with a perfect bitterness and acidity, all the while having wild notes that resemble fruits, and other such tropical flavors. It has a very evocative aroma of nature, flowers and freshly picked fruit.
- It is completely organic, cultivated in pesticide-free communities so you know that nothing inorganic doesn’t even come near to your coffee.
Medium body, medium acidity, and medium-low bitterness. Intense aroma.
Colombia is a world in and of itself. It is a country with very diverse geography and depending on where the coffee is grown, the experience will be completely different.
This particular coffee is grown in high-altitude farms, near the Andes mountain range, which is renowned for its volcanic soil that makes for some of the best coffee in the world. Colombia+volcanic soil = one of the best coffees you’ll ever taste.
This is a single-origin coffee, meaning that all beans are 100% Colombian. All of the coffee is shipped from Colombia to Maryland, where it is roasted by experts.
Full body, intense flavor particularly in terms of acidity. It has a lingering sweet finish and a fragrant aroma.
AmazonFresh has a great selection of coffee, but none stand out as much as their Colombian whole bean coffee.
Boasting 100% arabica beans grown all in Colombia (in other words, single-origin), this coffee ranks amongst some of the favorite South American coffees for coffee lovers and baristas alike.
For a relatively inexpensive and somewhat unheard-of brand, this coffee is a pleasant surprise. A single sip of this coffee and you’ll feel like you’re part of the cast of Encanto.
Medium roast. Full body, mild acidity/bitterness, smooth finish. Fragrant nutty aroma.
Don Francisco’s aim is to give you the best of that cherished Colombian flavor with a mix of some of the finest Colombian beans there are, creating a very balanced coffee that has an incredible aroma of sweet fruit and flowers.
Above all, they value freshness. A fresh coffee guarantees the best flavor possible, so this is actually something we should always keep in mind. Don Francisco’s is one of the best coffees in this respect. Why?
Because their coffee bags come with a one-way valve. This is a type of valve that lets gas out, but no air in. The gas is nitrogen, something that coffee naturally lets out after it has been roasted. If you let nitrogen mingle with coffee for too long, it ruins its freshness. The one-way valve is the perfect solution to this problem.
Balanced, floral aroma, medium-body, and pungent bitterness.
Copper Moon specializes in all sorts of Central and South American coffee. They are connoisseurs and know which beans complement each other’s flavor. Their blends are out of this world.
This particular blend is a Colombian-dominant that delves into the more subtle flavors. It lacks the usual cocoa and caramel notes found in coffee and instead has exotic ones like orange zest, passionfruit, and other sorts of acid/sweet flavor notes that make this coffee unique.
Copper Moon is also known for its initiative of empowering coffee farmers, who suffer from terrible living conditions; most coffee farmers live in poverty. Copper Moon has a program put in place where a portion of their gains goes toward improving living conditions, especially for women coffee workers.
Are you a fan of deep bittersweet coffee? Well, then you’ve finally found the best, most delicious one you can: SFB Colombian Supremo.
This Colombian blend, single-origin, has one of the most delicious combinations of sweet and bitter flavor notes: amaretto cherry and dark chocolate. They compliment each other in a depth of flavor you rarely see for that sweet bitterness that comes out as sweetness in the end.
Just for that, we’ve got to name this blend the most delicious on the list. It has a flavor combo that’s not just exotic, but also incredibly savory and worth binging.
Java Planet has great alternative coffee, and it is worth noting that almost all Java Planet coffees are certified organic and qualify for the Rainforest Alliance program, which helps keep Central and South America green, and the land pristine so that coffee can keep growing there.
This coffee is low acid. That means that it is lower in pH level, resulting in a pleasant flavor that is mostly sweet and bitter. You will find it easier to enjoy some subtle flavor notes that you would otherwise not perceive, like tropical fruit and wild berries.
This Colombian Supremo is quite different from the others on the list—it is much sweeter and, as they described it, a “crowd-pleaser”. And it certainly is! The main flavor notes here are honey and cherry, with honey being the main sweet component and the cherry flavor adding a little tang to it to complete the flavor profile.
This coffee is grown at high altitudes, securing a subtle flavor. It is washed and dried, so the overall acidity of the coffee is rather on the low side, meaning that it is easy to enjoy even black.
Colombian coffee has a rich, rich history in the country. Like with many countries in the continent, coffee was brought over by Europeans as they sought to plant it there for export to Europe; at the time, only Africa and parts of the Middle East grew coffee, as Europe can’t harvest any coffee at all because of its climate.
The way coffee became prevalent in Colombia was quite clever. A priest started ordering to plant trees as penance instead of a sentence for whenever people confessed their crimes. And so, coffee trees started sprouting all over Colombia.
Soon after, around 1860, Colombia was already one of the most important exporters of coffee in the world. The industry grew rapidly, and it became one of the leading ventures and an important part of the economy for the country.
In the 20th century, coffee cemented itself as the heart of Colombia. Colombians fell in love with coffee itself, and are proud of their product. They work not just to sell the coffee, but have a reputation to uphold: coffee is important for all Colombians.
Nowadays, coffee is seen as one of the most traditional beverages in Colombia. People drink it throughout the day and you can find coffee stands through practically any street, should you forget to drink your morning/evening coffee. Even children as young as 12 are allowed to drink coffee and it is seen as normal.
Why is Colombian Coffee so Special?
We mentioned before that coffee in Colombia is grown in the Andean region; this is an elevated zone, called the Andes Mountain Range. This mountain range is one of the biggest in the world and spans several countries, going almost from top to bottom of the whole of South America.
The elevation here constitutes the ideal climate for coffee growth: it is a temperate climate, without any seasonal deviations in temperature. The soil, however, is the key to Colombian coffee.
The Andes Mountain range is millions of years old. It used to be a chain of volcanoes, which means that all of the soil here is volcanic soil. Volcanic soil is not only chock-full of very important nutrients that make plants grow strong and beautiful, but it also has something that is particularly good for coffee: filtration.
Volcanic soil isn’t just dirt, but it is also full of rocks. This allows water to flow easily through the soil, which is absolutely key for coffee. When the soil is too damp, coffee suffers. When it is too dry, coffee suffers. Volcanic soil has the perfect balance between dirt and rocks, meaning it is the ideal soil to grow coffee.
Let’s talk now about some different aspects of Colombian coffee:
Colombian coffee is most commonly recognized for its acidity. It is described as acidic, “bright”, which is a type of citrus-like acidity that is very pleasant to the senses.
In general, it can also be described as being mild, medium-bodied and it most usually has fruit-like tasting notes.
The most common type of processing is washed; this is done to accent the coffee’s most important quality, its acidity. Wash/drying the coffee helps bring out more of the acid flavor in it, which is sometimes seen as not ideal.
In the case of Colombian coffee, though, it’s exactly the opposite. This type of processing is better as it helps the acidity be the star of the show. Moreover, it also contributes to a milder flavor overall, which is desirable for this coffee.
Colombia most often exports coffee for espresso. This is why more often than not, Colombian coffee is either sold ground in fine size or recommended to drink it that why.
But Colombian coffee is also very good in coarse grind size. It is greatly recommended for brewing methods like French press and for making cold brew, which also needs coarse grind size to brew.
Regional variety in Colombia
The Andean region is located roughly at the center of the country, and it is the most densely populated region. Here is also where most of the coffee plantations are located, although they can usually be divided into two sectors: Center-north and center-south.
Here are two important regions, one being more to the north of the country and the other slightly more at the center.
The two most important regions here would be the Sierra Nevada and Santander. The two are famous for rather sweet notes in their coffee, such as cocoa, chocolate, and even caramel. They are not seen as being “typical” Colombian coffee.
Here we find what is known around the world as Colombian coffee. It is mild and has that delicious bright acidity. A lot of the coffee here is grown at much higher temperatures because this region is closer to the equator, which means higher temperatures.
To compensate, farms are placed at higher altitudes, meaning better conditions for the coffee. Most of the coffee in this part is produced in the region of Antioquia.
Here you can find plenty of native Indian populations running farms that have been passed down through generations, as well as a big percentage of African Colombian communities. Both use their own natural ways of farming, and each of these is famous within the country for their unique flavor.
As we stated before, espresso is undoubtedly the best way to enjoy Colombian coffee. IT brings out the full spectrum of the coffee’s magnificent acidity and because Colombian coffee is actually mild, it is very pleasant to drink even with no cream or milk added.
The second best way would be with the French press. It comes out as a very well-rounded coffee, balanced, without any flavor standing out, making for an incredibly pleasant experience. It also brings out that famous acidity, even more so than other more well-respected brewing methods like the Hario or the Aeropress.
Colombian coffee, even though it is usually served as espresso, does not do very well with dark roasts. Instead, a vast majority of Colombian coffee is actually medium-roast.
This is mostly because of the coffee’s mildness. It is the perfect spot that effectively brings out the unique flavor of the coffee without letting other flavors get in the way. Dark roasts make Colombian coffee overly bitter, while blonde roasts make it actually overly acidic.
When trying out new or different roasts, I recommend you go for a point between blonde and medium, as it is the most friendly one. Dark roasts just don’t go well with Colombian coffee—except for a few exceptions, of course.
It is hard to say. In general, it is true that Colombia produces a staggering amount of premium-grade arabica and almost all of their coffee, even though it comes from different farms using different practices, is top-notch.
But the notion of Colombia having the best coffee has been disputed for more than a decade now. It is believed that this assumption came about mostly because at one point during the 20th century, America got a big portion of its coffee from Colombia, and because Colombian coffee is usually very good, it was thought that it was the “best”.
Today, we know that there isn’t one single country that can be thought of as having the best coffee. It all depends on the estate, the particular batch of coffee. Any country can produce great coffee.
Yes and no—it is all a matter of perception. Because the coffee is generally mild and low in bitterness, we are able to perceive more of the natural acidity that all coffee has. But it isn’t more acidic than other coffees, that is to say, its pH level isn’t higher (or technically lower) than other coffees.
In terms of flavors, yes, it feels more acidic. But in a pleasant way.
Colombian coffee is something that you just can’t go through life without trying. I personally can’t go without drinking Colombian coffee at least a few times a month!
This type of coffee is a delicate pleasure. In my opinion, it is not to be enjoyed every single day, but something that you have separate from your regular coffee and that you enjoy every few days or so. That will help you in appreciating the unique qualities of Colombian coffee.
Marcelo is a filmmaker and passionate barista on the side. He spends his free time cooking up new and exciting recipes – and drinking too much coffee in the process.