Coffee Origin - Colombia

When the term “coffee beans” is mentioned, many people - if not most - will think of Brazil right away.

No doubt, Brazilian coffee beans are indeed the most popular and well known in the world.

In fact, Brazil is the very first coffee-producing country we shared with you on Generation’s “Coffee + Tales” blog.

But did you know, there is a neighbouring country of Brazil that actually provides an amazing masterclass on the tasting notes of coffee?

While coffee from Brazil is typically nutty and chocolatey in taste, coffee from this particular country we’re talking about today has a huge spectrum of wonderful flavours. Depending on which region you get your coffee from, it can range from heavy and chocolatey coffees, all the way to lighter and fruity tastes. 

Hence the analogy of a coffee masterclass. More on that later.

Can you guess the country we’re talking about?
(If you read the title of the blog post, you should already know the answer!)

And the answer is:
Colombia.

(Image source: International Comunicaffe)


Colombia as a nation has long been twisted in social strife. Maybe that’s why “coffee-producing country” wouldn’t be on people’s minds when describing Colombia.

However, there’s an apt reason why I used “a masterclass in coffee tasting notes” to describe Colombian coffees.

Let me explain.

A Masterclass in coffee

It’s interesting to note that coffee regions in Colombia are defined geographically, mostly concentrated on the north-west part of the country intersecting parts of the Andean mountains. As these growing regions are very clear cut and well-defined, this results in Colombian coffee plantations’ ability to produce an impressive variety of different coffees.

(Adapted from Federación Nacional de Cafeteros - Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers)

Just think about it. Coffee planted at higher altitudes compared to those harvested from the valley of the exact same mountain will inevitably produce wildly different tasting coffee. And the regional geography of Colombia allows for this.

Oh my goooooodnessss not another geog lesson..?! *smh*

Wait wait I promise there’s a happy ending to this spiel on Colombia’s geographical characteristics.

It actually means good news for us coffee drinkers!

For example, say you randomly bought some Colombian beans that you enjoy, that means you’ll probably enjoy beans from the same region as well, since the tasting notes will be pretty similar.

The way forward then will be easy, dear one. Grab another bag of beans from the same Colombian region! And you’re good to go.

Look, even if you didn’t particularly enjoy the first bag you tried, armed with the above knowledge, now you’re curious about Colombian coffee.

You know that all you have to do to try something different, is just pick another coffee from a different region and boom! You get an entirely new taste of coffee to sip on and enjoy.

It’s win-win either way.

With such versatility in range, Colombia truly offers a fascinating masterclass on flavours and tasting notes. 

To sample the full spectrum of coffee in Colombia, from heavy, chocolaty coffees all the way to brighter, fruitier flavours,make sure you purchase different coffees from different parts of Colombia.

The dilemma between quality and sustainability

“Wait…” You might be asking, “Why not both?”

Indeed. Even at Generation, we strive to bring you the absolute best quality coffees from around the world.

But for Colombia (also for planet Earth at large) climate change is a real thing.

For years, Colombian farmers and Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers have struggled to reconcile the need to produce sustainable crops and also to meet the high expectations of quality demanded. 

To a certain extent, it’s unfair to ask farmers to sacrifice an entire harvest for the sake of a few lots of highest grade coffee.

These farmers have families to feed too!

Hence, the best way forward is to strike a balance between sustainability and coffee quality that is still considerably very good.

The power of branding

Believe it or not, we can learn valuable business lessons from observing Colombia’s take towards marketing their coffee.

Here’s a scenario for you to consider.

On most TV shows you see a high school cheerleading team conducting auditions for their team mascot. Usually some unpopular kid who’s willing to put on a clunky bear outfit, or something like that.

Except, the high school in question represents the nation of Colombia, and the mascot they’re looking for is the brand ambassador for Colombian coffee.

In walks Juan Valdez with his mule and farmer’s hat.

He’s this earnest guy who is a dedicated family man and a hardworking coffee grower. Honest and down to earth, Juan Valdez lands the role right away.


(Image source: Wikipedia)

Of course, Juan Valdez is a fictional character created as a symbol for Colombian coffee.

That doesn’t mean that this character wasn’t played by very real people, with very real emotions, with a real pride and commitment towards their roles.

Over the years, a total of 3 passionate actors have taken up the mantle of Juan Valdez, the character the world has come to favourably know as the face of Colombian coffee.

Most notably was Carlos Sánchez, a Colombian native and coffee farmer in his own youth, who sadly passed away in 2019. He played Juan Valdez for almost 40 fulfilling years. In an article in The New York Times celebrating his legacy, the writer reminisces on how Carlos once mentioned that Juan Valdez was a character he had played with pride, and he felt like he had truly represented his country.

How patriotic indeed!

Having a well known character as a symbol is such an important aspect of branding. It makes whatever it is you’re marketing or promoting, tangible or not, top of mind in people’s memory.

It’s like our very own Ryan Koh from SPF, with his now-famous islandwide cardboard standees deterring shoppers from committing shop theft. Bet you don’t even have to google “shop theft is a crime” to know what I mean!

And that was how Colombian coffee made a significant mark in the global coffee arena. With Juan Valdez as a figurehead, coffee beans from Colombia became instantly recognisable and as a result, more and more coffee lovers started drinking coffee from Carlos’ beloved homeland.

(Image source: NBC News)

If this has piqued your interest to have a taste of coffee from Colombia, hop on over to Generation Coffee’s collection of coffee beans to try out our pick of Colombian coffee beans. 

As of the time of writing this blog post, we are currently offering Colombia Alier Bolanos. This single origin yields a very well-balanced cuppa, which we feel will be an exquisite introduction just for you to the versatility of Colombian coffee.

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References:

https://www.comunicaffe.com/colombia-announces-new-scheme-to-help-struggling-coffee-farmers/

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Map-of-Colombian-coffee-regions-Source-Adapted-from-Federacion-Nacional-de-Cafeteros_fig1_273958341

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Valdez

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/09/obituaries/carlos-sanchez-dead.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/colombia-s-coffee-danger-these-scientists-are-fighting-save-it-n89122