GOURMET COLOMBIA COFFEE
Chocolate & slight fruit sweetness
Plum sweetness with dark chocolate.
altitude 1800 m
F A I R T O F A R M E R , D I R E C T T R A D E
In a country as large as Colombia, with an established coffee industry that is spread over 17 regions, there is bound to be variation in quality with a range that includes truly exceptional through to rather ordinary. Colombia is the third largest producer of coffee in the world after Brazil and Vietnam – though holds the crown for being the largest producer of washed arabica.
The coffee producing areas lie among the foothills of the Andes and the Sierra Nevada, where the climate is temperate with adequate rainfall. Colombia has three secondary mountain ranges (cordilleras) that run towards the Andes and it is amongst these that the coffee is grown. The hilly terrain provides a wide variety of micro-
The first exports of coffee from Colombia began in 1835 when around 2,500 bags were exported to the U.S. and by 1875 there were 170,000 bags were leaving the country bound for the U.S. and Europe. Exports grew over the next hundred years or so and peaked in 1992 at around 17 million bags. Today, following unreliable weather patterns and a national programme of plant regeneration, Colombian exports are currently around 7 million bags of coffee per year.
Coffee’s importance to the Colombian economy brought about the development of The Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros (FNC) in 1927. This body is responsible for research, technical advisory services, quality control and marketing. Juan Valdez, a fictitious character created by the FNC, is the world famous moustachioed, mule-
It is widely accepted that some of the country’s best coffees come from the south west in the departments of Huila, Tolima, Nariño and Cauca. We have chosen to work with a group of Huila farmers situated in the Guadalupe municipality in the valley of the Suaza River, about two hours south of the department’s capital Neiva and on en route to Florencia, the capital of neighbouring department, Caqueta. Here, high in the Andean Mountains, conditions are perfect for the production of fine Arabica coffee; good regular rainfall, rich and fertile soils, average farm altitudes of around 1,600 meters above sea level and good shade that includes Plantain, Chachafruto, Guamo and Nogal trees. The growers association we are working with is called Villa Esperanza and was established almost a decade ago.