Colombian coffee is one of the most well-known types of coffee in the world, and the third most popular, behind only Brazil and Vietnam. Coffee became the main export in Colombia in the mid-1800s and has remained a strong economic force for the country.
The Colombian Coffee Bean
Arabica is the coffee bean traditionally grown in Colombia, and today varietals such as Bourbon, Caturra, Typica, and Maragogype are grown. Subtle differences in flavor, such as sweetness, and fruity and floral hints and tones can be detected based on the region of the country in which they are cultivated.. Colombian coffee is a rich, aromatic, heavy-bodied beverage.
With altitude, some coffee varietals increase significantly in quality but production suffers as less fruit is produced. Plants flower almost year-round in Colombia due to the frequent rainfall, which results in two distinct harvest seasons, determined by the highest and lowest periods of rainfall. The use of mechanical dryers is necessary because of the moist environment.
The coffee growing regions in Colombia are mostly situated in the area of three north-south Andes mountain ranges that cut across the country. Most of the coffee is grown on small family farms, rather than in large industrial enterprises. However, the coffee industry in Colombia has an association that works on behalf of these small farmers to market the Colombian coffee bean worldwide, the Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC).
The FNC is behind the infamous "Juan Valdez", a fictional Colombian coffee grower used in advertisements and marketing materials to put a face on the small Colombian coffee farmer.
In more recent years, the FNC has promoted fair-trade, which has benefited the farmers and given them a better price for their harvest. Not all farmers are under the umbrella of the FNC. There are well over 30 independent cooperatives, at least half of which are also Fair Trade certified by the Fair Trade Labeling Organization.
The Future of Colombian Coffee
There are several factors currently hampering the coffee industry in Colombia, not the least of which is climate change. Coffee will only grow in certain conditions, and those perfect growing conditions are being threatened. With the rise in temperature and the changing climate, pests such as the coffee berry borer and diseases such as coffee rust fungus are taking hold in areas which previously were immune. Environmental issues such as pesticide overuse and deforestation are also taking their toll on this rich industry.
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