The 6 Best Colombian Coffee picks
Colombia is known to produce some of the most high-quality arabica coffee in the world. Colombian brews are known for their medium body, distinct aroma, balanced flavor, and sweet citrusy acidity.
The best Colombian coffee beans are complex and flavorful, despite their regional differences.
Before we dive into our 6 favorite Colombian coffees, here’s our top pick if you’re in a rush:
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Alternatives at a glance
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Why is Colombian Coffee So Good?
Colombian coffee is as much a part of their economy as it is a part of their heritage. There are a few reasons associated with why the nation produces such high-quality beans, which we’ve outlined below.
The Perfect Weather and Geography
Colombian coffee is grown across more than 2 million acres of highland areas in the country. The most popular coffee-growing region is the Sierra Nevada mountain range located in Santa Marta. Followed by the Andes mountain range, which crosses the country from south to north.
Colombian coffee beans are grown at elevations of up to more than 6,000 feet. At this attitude, the beans are naturally denser, leading to more sought-after and desirable coffee.
Because the low temperature and mountain shade prolong the beans’ growth cycle, these factors, along with the fertile volcanic soil on these mountains, allow the sugars and acids to develop for longer, producing a set of unique flavors.
Additionally, the steep terrain means coffee is more straightforward to harvest manually than mechanically. However, this can lead to a more premium product as pickers can ensure that only the ripest of fruits are harvested.
As a result, the combination of these factors make Colombia prime for coffee production.
The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation
Due to the geography of the coffee-growing regions in Colombia, the industry is comprised of many small-scale farms harvesting arabica beans.
Given that an average Colombian coffee farm is only 4.5 acres, the formation of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) in 1927 has been essential to the protection and growth of the industry. The farmers use this entity to act as a collective to improve negotiating and bargaining power.
Today, this committee protects farmers by setting minimum prices for coffee. And they also protect the current industry and its future by coming up with solutions to the social and environmental issues that farmers face.
The FNC successfully marketed coffee from Colombia via the campaign of a fictional farmer by the name of Juan Valdez in the 1950s. This move has proven pivotal in ensuring that 100% Colombian coffee gained recognition as one of the finest coffees in the world.
The Juan Valdez campaign was a huge hit, especially in the U.S., where Juan Valdez became an international icon for both Colombia and its world-class coffee.
The 6 Best Colombian Coffee Picks
If Juan Valdez were a real individual, he would be immensely proud! Since the campaign, Colombian beans have excelled to become renowned globally.
Here is a list of 6 of the best Colombian coffees in the market today.
This coffee is an organic alternative that’s free of harmful chemicals and pesticides.
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While our other favorite, the Colombian Supremo is grown in the Nariño region, these beans grow in the highest coastal mountain in the world: Sierra Nevada.
The Organic Colombian Sierra Nevada is one of the more popular Colombian coffees, and with good reason. It’s a rich, full-bodied, milk chocolatey coffee, with a hint of almond and citrusy finish.
It’s naturally sweet, and great served as part of a milky coffee. The addition of milk gives this brew a mouthwateringly velvety texture and adds balance.
The Colombian Supremo by Fresh Roasted Coffee is our runner up for Colombian coffee.
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The varieties of Colombian coffee growing in the mountainous Nariño region are among the most high-quality coffees in the world. But it’s important to note that “Supremo” actually doesn’t refer to the beans’ quality.
Coffee beans are often sorted by size to ensure an even roast and balanced flavor. In Colombia, the biggest beans are graded as “Supremo.” While this terminology doesn’t equate to quality, these beans make a mean cup of coffee!
The result is a full-bodied coffee with an incredibly balanced set of flavors. With notes of honey and cherry, accompanied by a bright finish.
As the name suggests, Volcanica grows its beans organically in volcanic areas. Naturally, the rich soil and shade are conducive to growing high-quality coffee. As you can imagine, the mountain ranges of Colombia fit the bill perfectly.
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In case you don’t know, peaberry coffee is a rare variant of every coffee variety. Most seeds (or as we know them, beans) grow in pairs, hence the ridge in the middle of the bean that we’re all familiar with.
Around 5% of the time, one of them fails and the other gets the nutrition of two beans. The result is a smaller but more expensive pea-shaped coffee bean. However, it isn’t a guarantee that you’ll prefer peaberry coffee 100% of the time, that usually is the case.
Peaberry coffee tends to have a brighter acidity, lighter body, and more distinctive aroma. And it needs to be separated and roasted differently from its flat bean counterparts.
Volcanica doesn’t disclose where precisely these beans are from, but we don’t mind. This medium roast coffee has the classic body and acidity of peaberry coffee and decadent notes of chocolate, cherry, walnut, and malt.
It makes for a very light, smooth, and delicious cup of Colombian coffee that fits perfectly with the Juan Valdez campaign we outlined earlier.
For a sincere appreciation of Colombia coffee, this light roast might be an ideal option for you.
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Light roasts are known to preserve the unique characteristics of coffee beans. And the Colombia El Cedro by Bluebeard Coffee Roasters is no exception, originating from the Nariño region.
This Colombian coffee is of the Castillo variety, known for being aromatic with a citrusy acidity. Not only does this coffee have bright, fruity flavors of apricot, mango, and raspberries. It also has the sweetness of brown sugar and a hint of spice.
You may be here because you’re looking to expand your palette and try out flavors authentic to Colombian coffee. If that’s the case, these are likely just the beans you’re looking for.
Related read: The best light roasts.
The Colombia Jose Paz Gomez is another light roast coffee from Colombia. But this has the flavor of chocolate and pear. The fruity finish is sweet, and it lingers like the taste of candy.
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This light roasted coffee from Nariño is very light and delectable. So how come it doesn’t taste like the Colombia El Cedro?
The beans are of the Caturra variety, which is known for its bright acidity and light to medium body. The taste, as seen in the chocolatey body of this coffee, is closer to that of traditional coffee than the Castillo variety is.
This brew is a classic done exceptionally well and is the perfect reward at the end of a hard day’s work.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because Fresh Roasted Coffee’s medium roasted version of this coffee is also on this list. We’ve included this just in case you happened to be into roasting. If you’re wondering which Colombian coffee would be the ideal beans to experiment with, look no further!
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We mentioned that the medium roasted version of these beans is rich, creamy, and chocolatey, with hints of almonds and citrus. Fresh Roasted suggests that you try this out as a medium-dark roast. This would complement the milk chocolatey and nutty notes of this coffee.
And who knows? You might prefer the flavor profile of a light roast version over a medium-dark roast. There’s really only one way to find out!
Best Coffee Beans In Colombia Buyers Guide
Colombia is the 3rd largest coffee grower globally, and they grow 100% arabica beans. Below we dive into how the background and how to find you preferred choice of brew.
Coffee: Big Business in Colombia
Why big business? Coffee is the second-largest commodity that the country exports. And in 2018, Colombian coffee accounted for almost 6% of their total exports – yup, a lot of coffee!
It would be fair to assume that Colombian households must drink some of the best household coffee in the world. But that isn’t the case. The demand for their coffee is so high that most of the coffee that passes their standards for quality get exported.
The ones that don’t pass are mostly turned into thick, concentrated, coffee, and sold cheaply on the streets of Colombia. This coffee referred to as “Tinto”, is more affordable for the everyday Colombian.
We wouldn’t call it lousy coffee necessarily. But it’s not on the same level as your typical coffee Colombian beans featured on this list.
What is Colombian Supremo?
Supremo doesn’t mean the bean is supreme, as you might assume.
We mentioned earlier that “Supremo” actually refers to the size of the beans, rather than their quality. So why make the distinction?
The uniformity in size plays an essential role in the evenness of the roast of your beans. A smaller bean will roast faster than a Supremo bean. So, if beans of all sizes are roasted at the same time, it can lead to over-roasted and under-roasted.
This imbalance will be reflected in the inconsistent flavor you get from your coffee. So before roasting, it’s essential to separate the Supremo beans from the rest of your coffee.
Colombian Coffee Varieties per Region
Where precisely the beans are grown affects the taste of the coffee. There are 19 coffee-producing regions in the country, with no two varieties tasting the same. But mainly, these regions can be separated into three main areas: northern, central, and southern Colombia.
Coffees growing in the northern region grows in lower latitudes and higher temperatures than other areas of Colombia. So this coffee tends to yield coffee with a fuller body but less acidity than varieties in the other two primary regions.
One northern region is Santander, which is known for its fragrant cherry aroma, and sweet, nutty, caramel flavor.
Central Colombian coffees are quite similar to those grown in the northern region. They are also grown in relatively lower altitudes and higher temperatures. This region is home to two of the three largest coffee-producing areas of Colombia: Antioquia and Tolima, both in the Central North region.
Antioquia beans produce a cup of coffee with notes anywhere from walnut and spice to baker’s chocolate. The flavor profile only depends on whether it’s a medium or dark roast. Meanwhile, Tolima coffee is more delicate and has a little more brightness. It’s a balanced coffee that has notes of caramel, with a nutty chocolate flavor and subtle floral edge.
Finally, there’s the southern Columbian region, where coffee is grown at higher altitudes. This results in a cup with high acidity, and sweet, fruity, caramel tones. One renowned area from the south is Nariño, which you’ll recognize from some of the recommended coffees.
Common Roast Types
While you can enjoy some Colombian coffees as a light roast, they’re usually enjoyed as a medium to medium-dark roast.
Typically, coffees grown in lower altitudes are roasted darker. Santander coffee is an example of Colombian beans that taste great as both a medium and dark roast.
Meanwhile, coffees grown in higher altitudes can be roasted light to medium, as the beans have more acidity to showcase.
How to Best Brew It
Colombian coffee beans have a variety of flavors that can be roasted and brewed in many different ways, depending on your preference. I prefer to use them as espresso, especially when I’m using medium-dark or dark roast coffee. The nutty, chocolatey flavors that emerge pair greatly with milk.
If you prefer taking your coffee black, I’d recommend brewing Colombian coffee with your French press. The resulting full body of your cup of joe lets the flavors of the bean shine through, especially if your beans are medium roasted. This allows you to enjoy the characteristics unique to Colombian coffee on full blast.
The best Colombian coffee beans for us are the Colombian Sierra Nevada beans from Fresh Roasted. It’s full-bodied, with the sweetness of chocolate.
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But if you’re into roasting, we’d would recommend the Unroasted Organic Sierra Nevada Green Coffee. They’re beans that are super fun to play around with. And honestly, unless it’s your absolute first time roasting, it’s pretty difficult to mess them up. If you’re into roasting, check out our related post about our favorite green coffee beans.
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But regardless of which beans you decide to try out, it’s safe to say that Colombia has close to mastered the art of growing coffee. In terms of quality, they produce some of the best-tasting arabica beans in the world.
So don’t spend too much time analyzing the nuances in flavor between the different varieties of coffee in the various coffee-growing regions. As long as they’re from Columbia, you know you’re getting some of the most premium arabica coffee beans on the planet. !Adios, parcero!
Barista and coffee writer
Miguel Papa is a coffee fanatic with a passion for brewing. During the weekdays, you can find him experimenting with different drinks while he works as a barista. Otherwise, he’s likely writing here for Sip Coffee or enjoying the outdoors.