Quick Summary: The Best Colombian Coffee
Are Colombian coffee beans the best?
Are they the strongest?
Should you buy some?
Today we'll answer these and more of your questions as we travel to South America to learn about the local coffee industry, its history, recent troubles, and the top representatives of this unique java growing region. Before we delve into fine details and fill your head with facts and figures, let's take a sneak peek at the magnificent seven that got to our shortlist.
The Best Colombian Coffee Beans in 2020: Everything You Need to Know
As of 2019, Colombia produced nearly 1.8 billion pounds of coffee or 13.5 million bags. The figures help the country remain among the top three worldwide producers and exporters. However, along with the leader of the market, Brazil, Colombia is also a major coffee consumer. The number of small farms exceeds 500,000. And over two million people are connected to the industry, making coffee a crucial part of local culture, even though the beans were only introduced here in the late 18th century.
With a large territory, Columbia boasts three established growing regions in the north, central, and south parts of the country. However, a new farming region has been established in the east in recent years. Despite the varying growing conditions, including humidity, temperature, soil composition, and elevation, Colombian coffee is considered to be among the best in the world. It boasts a unique combination of features with a medium body and acidity merging to create a bold and powerful flavor.
Arabica is the primary, if not exclusive, product of the Colombian java industry. The country possesses a uniquely favorable combination of natural factors that ensure stable growth and yield of this variety. As you might know, arabica trees are more capricious and finicky when it comes to growing, and they produce fewer beans. However, robusta beans, while easier to come by and possessing a higher caffeine content, have an overpowering taste that's not universally loved. Thanks to a huge annual production of arabica crop, Colombian beans are a common attribute of many java blends. They help lower the price while serving as a nice background for rare varieties.
Similar to Brazil, Colombia has relied heavily on coffee export to supplement the national economy. As a result, the country has to follow international trends and regulations to remain competitive. This means that more farmers than ever are turning towards sustainable practices and offer organic products free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. If you prefer organic groceries, pay attention to labels. Or you could just read on and learn which of the popular brands offer organic beans.
How Is Colombia Coffee Different from Other Single-Origin Beans?
Brazilian coffee, though more widespread and grown in the neighboring country, is less acidic and boasts a fuller body. The common flavor notes include nuts, chocolate, and spice.
Bolivian varieties are also grown on volcanic mountainsides at high altitudes, making them as mellow as Colombian. However, their taste may be even sweeter.
Costa Rica beans ripen even more slowly, which results in a richer flavor with more pronounced nuances, including citrus and fruit. The overall taste is bolder and heartier, unlike the mild Colombian brews.
Dominican coffee is, at the same time, similar to and different from Colombian products. With a medium body, it has even higher acidity, a more pronounced and bright flavor, and a nuanced aroma.
Our Top 7 Picks for Best Columbian Coffee
Just a quick reminder before we start: this shortlist is based on research and personal experience, but it's still subjective. We provide recommendations based on our best guess of what you might enjoy, but we can't provide a guarantee. Feel free to try these varieties and share your thoughts.
Volcanica Colombian Supremo Coffee Review
- Medium roast with floral and fruity notes
- Multiple grind options
- Medium acidity and smooth taste
Grown in Minas Gerais, the cherries for this variety are picked when perfectly ripe and dried in the sun to achieve that perfect combination of sweetness, light acidity, and a smooth combination of caramel, hazelnut, and fruit notes. Medium roasting, perfected by hand, brings these flavor nuances to the fore. Unlike many baristas, Peet's roasting masters know when to stop to keep from burning the beans to preserve the coffee's best qualities. Strong and full-bodied, this brand is for those who love the finer things in life that don't cause undue hassle.
For best flavor, the manufacturer recommends you brew the grounds within 90 days of roasting. You can find the 'best before' date on the bag. Before you order this variety online, ask the seller about this. Otherwise, you risk getting coffee that's still usable, but long out of its best qualities. Additionally, this variety is pre-ground, meaning the coffee will start losing its flavor once the bag is open. You might prefer other options on our list if you own a grinder and know how to use it.
Cooper's Colombian Dark Roast Review
- Bold, dark roast
- Small batch artisanal roasting
- Sweet and fruity flavor
If you've been looking for the elusive combination of a bold flavor with a smooth body, you're in luck. This micro-lot Colombian variety is a work of art because of the Grade 1 beans and the small-batch dark roasting that brings the rustic sweetness and fruit notes to the fore. The whole bean version is perfect for coffee aficionados looking to control the coarseness, but a variety of grind options are also available.
For those worried about sustainability, Cooper's is a solid choice. The company relies on Fair Trade certified imported beans and is a small, family business run by veterans. Their 30-day money-back guarantee is just another proof of how good this roast is. In case you don't like the product, you can contact the company for a full refund. However, our research indicates most buyers are in love with this single-origin bean. Some go as far as to say it's a true Columbian coffee, unlike the majority of the offers. Beware, falling in love with this coffee might translate into a regular order, as the bag is only 12 oz.
AmazonFresh Colombia Whole Bean Coffee Review
- Extremely affordable
- Medium roast
- Mellow, inoffensive taste
One of the most popular varieties on Amazon is created with quality Colombian java, medium roasted, and carefully packaged in sealed bags to preserve the freshness of the taste and the aroma. It tastes smooth and mellow, regardless of your preferred brewing style, and this product is suitable to a variety of those, including French press, drip, pour-over, and espresso. Considering the whole beans come in a 32 oz bag (or a 3-pack of 12 oz bags), the price is unbeatable, on a level with big-box stores.
Despite its popularity, the coffee is usually described as bland or generic by true Colombian java lovers. Many reviewers complain about the quality of the beans, as they are too dry and brittle, producing an inoffensive flavor that has nothing to do with true Colombian brews. Another thing that annoys many buyers is the lack of the roasting date. The bags only specify the "best before" month and year. Luckily, the price is very affordable, and you can request a full refund within 12 months of the purchase.
Juan Valdez Organic Review
- Medium roast
- USDA certified organic
- Authentic and robust Colombian flavor
This is a prime choice if you're looking for authentic flavor, aroma, and overall Colombian roast coffee experience. After all, Juan Valdez has been a symbol of the country's coffee industry for over half a century. Every pack under this brand supports thousands of growers and promotes sustainable practices industry-wide. Unlike many alternatives, this coffee is certified organic by USDA and EU regulators, which means the farmers rely on eco-friendly growing and processing practices.
One look at the packaging is enough to know this coffee is Colombian through-and-through. Unlike US-roasted and packaged varieties, Juan Valdez comes in 17.6 oz (500 g) bags. When you consider the affordable price, increased bag weight, and authentic flavor, this might just have been the best Colombian coffee out there if not for the next item on our shortlist.
Blackwelder Coffee Colombian Review
- Medium-dark roast
- The notes of dark cacao
- Bucaramanga-grown, California-roasted
Yet another outstanding choice of Colombia-grown and US-roasted java. The tiny California-based family company sources the beans for this variety from Bucaramanga farms, well-known for their top-notch crops. After hand picking and careful processing, the beans are delivered to the US for hand-roasting in small batches. Surprisingly, the medium-dark roast of this single-origin drink does not add bitterness into the mix. Instead, it produces a powerful flavor with notes of cacao and tongue-tingling acidity. The aroma may feel overwhelming at first, but it makes for a perfect morning booster and is well-loved by an army of fans.
You should know another couple of facts about this product before buying it. For one, it isn't cheap, but it is not over-the-top expensive either. However, this only applies to small 1-pound bags. Once you know this is the java for you, invest in a 2-pound or 5-pound packaging for extra savings. Besides, the roast date is specified for each batch online, so you know how fresh your beans will be once you receive the package. This will protect you from getting stale coffee and being disappointed.
We also love the resealable bag that keeps the beans fresh and fragrant even if you don't have a spare airtight container to keep them in. Finally, the packaging is nice enough to make this variety a perfect gift that won't disappoint even the most snobbish of coffee drinkers among your friends.
All things considered, this is our top pick for single-origin Colombian coffee.
Koffee Kult Colombian Huila Fresh Coffee Beans Review
- High-quality Huila beans
- Medium roast
- Chocolate and cinnamon notes
At Koffee Kult, they know that delicious cuppa starts with quality beans. For this reason, the company sources the coffee from Huila farms that rely on eco-friendly practices and produce organic beans of the top quality. Once in Florida, the beans are crafted into a medium roast in small batches, ensuring the best taste and smell across the board.
The resultant brew is bold and punchy, with notes of cinnamon and chocolate, lighthearted acidity, and sugary finish. It's great for the fans of black coffee, as this variety does not require sugar or milk for outstanding taste. The manufacturer promises you will be lured out of bed in the morning by a single whiff of the mouth-watering aroma.
The whole beans are packaged in a variety of degassed bags, so you can find your perfect package from 12 oz to 5 pounds. The bags are resealable, meaning the java will remain fresh even if you keep it in the original packaging. However, the bags lack the roast date, which has caused disappointment for some buyers. One reason for this is that batches can smell and taste differently. Some reviewers even complain about receiving old or stale beans, so you should be on the lookout for those.
Peet's Coffee Colombia Review
- Light roast
- A blend of Colombian and Ethiopian beans
- Vibrant flavor with stone fruit and passionflower notes
The only blend on our list, this product combines the powerful Colombian java with the right dose of Ethiopian beans to produce a light but vivid flavor with notes of vanilla, passionflower, and stone fruit. The light roast does not translate into a weak drink. Instead, it brings out the nuanced aroma and flavor that would otherwise be masked by the bitterness and acidity of darker roasts. The blend is perfect for a morning cuppa or a midday pick-me-up if you're not a fan of extremely strong java or take your coffee black.
Another aspect that sets this blend apart from other entries on this list is its pre-ground state. There's no way to buy whole beans, and the medium-fine grounds are not perfect for either an espresso machine or a French press. Although you can use either of these brewing methods, most reviewers recommend pour-over or drip coffeemakers for this variety.
Price is another point of contention among buyers. Some complain about the overpriced product, while others manage to find good deals. Either way, the only available packaging is a 12 oz vacuum-sealed bag that keeps the grounds fresh. The front lists two dates: roasting day and "freshest by" that signifies the deadline for enjoying all the nuances of this blend. It's still drinkable past the date, but the taste might alter and lose some potency.
What Are Less-known Colombian Coffee Facts?Tinto is not the same as Colombian coffee you can get your hands on outside the borders. You should definitely try it if you ever visit the country, but remember it's brewed using the low-quality beans that are deemed not good enough for export. Still, 'inky water' is cheap, strong, and available at every corner. Just don't judge the local java by its taste.
Another indisputable attribute of the Colombian coffee industry, Juan Valdez, while a fictional character, is portrayed by a local farmer. He travels around the world and promotes Colombian java brands, keeping it recognizable. As a result of this advocacy, Juan Valdez coffee shops are extremely popular in Colombia among the tourists and locals alike.
While still remaining the third biggest coffee producer in the world after Brazil and Vietnam, Colombia has been going through some troubles in recent years. In 2018, the plantations were hit by unfortunate fungal and pest issues that reduced the yield by almost a third. Most farms are now over this crisis, but climate change continues to affect Colombian growers as well as their peers across the globe. The temperature increase and precipitation level changes affect the tender and capricious arabica plants that produce fewer cherries and drive up the prices in an industry that works on tight margins.
Is Colombian Coffee Strong?Despite its popularity, bold taste, and enormous variety, Colombian java is less strong than many other varieties. One reason behind this is the use of arabica beans. Unlike robusta, they contain nearly half the amount of caffeine. Another reason is the Colombian coffee culture that is so unlike American one that's focused on caffeine. In Colombia, coffee is a thing to be shared and enjoyed with friends, not a source of an instant energy boost. Combined, these factors mean that Colombian java is not as strong as robusta and arabica blends. If you're on the lookout for an intense pick-me-up, look elsewhere, but if a superior taste is what gets you going, scroll down for our top recommendation.
How Do I Brew Colombia beans?Considering their pleasant taste, you can take your morning cuppa black, but adding milk, or cream may add another dimension to the flavor. The brewing method is your choice, dependent mostly on your kitchen arsenal and taste. However, Colombian java tastes good when brewed by an espresso machine, a French press, or a drip coffee maker. Some caffeine addicts have experimented with pour-over and Aeropress and have found the results delicious, so you might give it a try. Remember to set the right grinder setting for your preferred brewing method, as the wrong coarseness of the beans can ruin even the most perfect blend and roast.
Will I Like the Colombian Coffee Taste?That's for you to decide after you taste-test a couple of varieties from our list. However, there are a fre ways to make an educated guess. If you like medium body and intense acidity, Colombian coffee is a good fit for your kitchen. If you enjoy citrus, herbal, and floral notes in your coffee instead of traditional chocolatey and nutty notes, you might fall in love with Colombia-grown beans.
Still, grinding and roasting also affect the taste of your cuppa. This means even the best, hand-picked Colombian beans can be spoiled by poor processing choices. Select the roast that suits your taste and grind the beans before brewing for best results regardless of the country of java origin.
The Verdict. What Is the Best Coffee in Colombia?
There's no lack of high-quality, palatable beans in Colombia, but you know how easily those can be ruined by improper roasting and grinding. That's why we went to the trouble of researching the topic, taste-testing, and reading hundreds of reviews to come up with the best choice for your kitchen.
It's a subjective opinion you're free to disagree with, but we believe Blackwelder is the best Colombia coffee on the market. It's down to top-shelf Bucaramanga beans, medium-dark roast, mild acidity, and the subtle notes of dark chocolate. The variety of beautiful and easy-to-use packaging is also a point in favor. Give it a try, and you'll join hundreds of happy campers who're raving about this bold and delicious java.
Of course, we cannot forget about the close runner-up that is Juan Valdez. It's definitely worth your time and money, especially if you want to support the local growers and enjoy an authentic all-Colombian blend.