The Coffee Phenomenon - Part 2

May 07, 2011

/files/CoffeePhenomenon2.Colombia.jpg" alt="The Coffee Phenomenon Part 2 - Colombian Coffee" title="The Coffee Phenomenon Part 2 - Colombian Coffee" align="left" height="212" hspace="10" width="320" />The World Barista Championship is fast approaching and we’re getting psyched for this major event! Part of what makes this so exciting is the fact that for the first time ever, the competition will be held in a major coffee producing nation, Colombia.


Get this, Colombia is responsible for about 10%-15% of the total coffees across the world. When you think about all the different places that grow and produce coffee, this percentage becomes pretty hefty. It’s no surprise, then, that the fact that the competition will be taking place in Colombia is something to swoon over.


But enough about that. Let’s get down to business. What makes Colombia so special and how did coffee even come to grow here? It’s time for our second installment of the “Coffee Phenomenon” and today we’ll explore the origins of Colombian coffee.


Similar to Ethiopia, the jury’s still out and it’s hard to really trace the origins of coffee in Colombia. That said, historians believe that it first originated as a result of Jesuit priests around the 16th century. By 1835, Colombia was exporting about 2,500 bags of coffee to the United States and today, we import about 5.75 million bags (that’s 560,000 tons!) of Colombian coffee. So really, in less than 200 years the amount of coffee making its way into the US from Colombia grew exponentially!


Given the popularity of this region’s coffee, one has to wonder what makes this coffee so special? In fact, the country’s production is broken down by 2 regions: the MAM (Medillin, Armenia, and Manizales) and the eastern mountainous regions (Bogota & Bucaramanga). For the most part, the MAM coffees have a heavier body, richer flavor and finer acidity while the eastern region coffees tend to be less acidic, milder and may even resemble Sumatran coffees in some instances.


Ok, but why did this coffee become so popular in the US, you may ask. Two words: Juan Valdez. You remember him, right? The guy with the sombrero who simply made you need that cup of Joe right then and there… Guess what? He’s actually a fictitious character but the campaign created by the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers in 1959 was so effective, that to this day, when Americans think of Colombian coffee, 8 out of 10 times the image of Juan Valdez will be recalled.


How do you feel about Colombian coffee? Do you have a favorite roaster or blend? Share your thoughts; we’d love to get your perspective as well!

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