Jesuit priests, who were among the Spanish colonists, first brought coffee to Colombia in the late 1700s with the first plantings in the northern regions of Santander and Boyacá. Small farms spread throughout the country during the 19th century. Commercial production and export did not commence until early 1800s but remained limited until the 20th century. In 1927 the establishment of the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia was a tremendous boost to the national coffee industry, Colombia quickly establishing itself as a major coffee-growing producer.
Colombia exclusively produces Arabica coffee. An outbreak of coffee-leaf rust in early 2010s caused a setback for coffee production but the development of disease-resistant plants and aggressive treatment and preventative techniques has enabled a recovery of the market.
Colombia's sheer size and topography contribute to the different cup profiles developed within the 20 coffee-growing regions. Even within growing regions, there are many variations due to the microclimates created by the mountainous terrain, wind patterns, proximity to the Equator and the various processing techniques.
The country’s northern regions (e.g. Santa Marta and Santander) with their higher temperatures and lower altitudes, offer full-bodied coffees with less brightness and snap; the central “coffee belt” of Antioquia, Caldas, and Quindio among others, where the bulk of the country’s production lies, produce easy-drinking “breakfast blend” types, with soft nuttiness and big sweetness but low acidity. The southwestern regions of Nariño, Cauca, and Huila tend to have higher altitude farms, which comes through in more complex acidity and heightened floral attributes in the profiles.
NATIONAL FEDERARTION OF COFFEE GROWERS
Founded in 1927, the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia ( “FNC”) is a large NGO that provides a wide variety of services to support the country’s coffee producers, regardless of the size of their landholdings or the volume of their production. The FNC has developed aggressive marketing campaigns to attract attention of specialty-grade coffee consumers not only internationally but also at home in Colombia.
The FNC will provide Colombian coffee growers with a guaranteed purchase price, offering a degree of financial security to farmers. Farmers have the option to find private buyers, access specialty markets, or sell their coffee to the FNC for a standardized price. While this process is designed to eliminate some of the market pressures and provide a reliable income to farmers, it has come into criticism for disincentivizing the development of specialty lots and microlots.
Additionally, the FNC's scientific arm is devoted to research, development, dissemination, and support throughout the country. More than 1,500 field workers meet and consult with farmers on soil management, processing techniques, variety selection, disease prevention and treatment, and other agricultural aspects to coffee farming. A tax is imposed on all coffee exports in order to fund this work as well as the other provisions and protections that the FNC offers, regardless of a producer’s participation or use of FNC services, marketplace, and programs.
Antioquia, Boyacá, Caldas, Cauca, Cesar, Caquetá, Casanare, Cundinamarca, Guajira, Huila, Magdalena, Meta, Nariño, Quindío, Risaralda, Santander, Tolima, Valle
Bourbon, Castillo, Catimor, Caturra, Colombia, Typica
Cauca + Nariño: May–July (main), November–January (fly);
Huila: November–January (main), May–July (fly)