Where to find Colombian coffee?

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When the time comes to bring back souvenirs from your trip to Colombia, we inevitably think of handicrafts, and it has to be said that there are many beautiful things to bring back as gifts for yourself or your loved ones. But there’s one that, from our point of view, is a great idea, inexpensive, and defines Colombia: coffee!

Especially if, as we think, a visit to a coffee finca is on your agenda. In fact, by associating souvenirs with your gift, you’ll enjoy a cup of the world’s best coffee all the more when you get home!

Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

Coffee, Colombia’s national pride

A REAL TREASURE

Where to find Colombian coffee?

What can we say about Colombian coffee? That it’s surely one of the best coffees in the world, if not, in my opinion, the best, provided you’re interested enough to detect the balanced flavors of fruit, acidity and chocolate.

In Colombia, black coffee is called tinto. It’s usually drunk sweetened with panela. You heat the water, put the coffee in a filter, strain the water by hand and enjoy the heart of the country. On the streets all over the country, you’ll find tinto vendors. With their thermos flasks, they serve tinto in small plastic cups, often already sweetened. In theEje cafetero, for example at the Manizales viewpoint, you’ll find coffee growers offering cups served from the trunk of a Willys jeep typical of the region. Whatever happens in Colombia, coffee is everywhere.

Personally, I like plain, sugar-free coffee, so the Colombian way of drinking tinto isn’t necessarily my cup of tea… (mouhahaha) But the fact remains that I love Colombian coffee and have adopted it at home… well, perhaps a little forced and coerced by Angélica, I must admit..

I use it in both traditional and piston espresso machines, and it’s always excellent. It’s all a matter of taste, of course. For my part, I’d say I’m looking for thatchocolate aroma and that slight acidity, a perfect balance that gives it a flavor to die for.

Coffee from Colombia

Protected Denomination of Origin

Where to find Colombian coffee?

Globally, if you look at a map of Colombia, you’ll see the Andes, and well, coffee in Colombia is produced all along the foothills of the mountains, from north to south. You’ll even find it in the Sierra Nevada on the Caribbean coast.

Virtually all producers are members of the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers, which governs the“100% Café de Colombia” PDO. This federation was created to protect the working conditions of thousands of coffee-producing families.

Colombia is the world’s 3rd largest coffee producer, and exports most of its production. Coffee accounts for 20% of its exports!

The best beans are selected for export and the rest, the pasilla, the bad beans, are used to make the “basic” coffee that Colombians consume every day… This explains why Sello Rojo is not of good quality and why good branded or direct-producer coffees remain expensive for most Colombians.

Finca coffee

This is an opportunity to drink coffee at its source, and to understand the entire manufacturing process and the passion that drives Colombian producers. You can experience these tours all over Colombia in the mountains. For example, we’ve visited Salento and Minca, and it’s always a good time.

Everyday Colombian coffee

  • Sello Rojo, Aguila Roja …: These are poor-quality coffees, made with pasilla, i.e. “defective” beans, all beans that don’t have the quality required for export. They may be Colombian, but they’re not very good, because they’re simply made from bad beans.

To this day, it’s the everyday coffee for many Colombians, because it’s simply the cheapest. Strangely enough, the Colombian population has not been taught to drink good coffee. But things are changing, awareness is growing, brands are starting to offer more affordable prices and Colombians are starting to want to enjoy their best coffee.

Colombian coffee brands

  • Oma
    Basic Oma is of average quality and not too expensive. The brand offers an “exportacion” selection which, as you will have gathered, is of superior quality. There are a number of Oma stores where you can buy their various products, including their succulent “Chococafe” sweets, chocolate-covered coffee beans – a real treat!
  • Tostao
    A new Colombian coffee chain that’s enjoying dazzling success. Packets can be bought on the premises, but are also available in supermarkets. They advertise a quality coffee (tipo exportacion) at a low price! The quality is decent.
  • Quindio
    This brand brings together producers from the Quindío region (the department where Salento is located). These coffees offer good value for money.
  • Matiz
    Another brand of quality coffees, positioned in a premium niche. Matiz offers different bean types (Suave, Intense, Balanced or Strong). The “Suave” is one of Angélica’s favorites.
  • D’Origen
    A recent brand, or so it seems to us, of which we were offered a pack last year, offering different origins and a responsible, quality approach.
  • Juan Valdez
    One of Colombia’s prides! It’s THE brand created by the federation of Colombian coffee growers. The brand offers different qualities (Standard, Gourmet, Organic) and “origin” coffees from different regions of Colombia(Huila, Valle del Cauca, Nariño, Sierra Nevada, Antioquia…).

THE STORY OF JUAN VALDEZ

Juan Valdez is a character invented by the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers in the 60s to promote the quality of Colombian coffee and enable coffee-growing families to make a better living from their trade. Through this brand, the federation aims to control the entire chain, from production to consumption, in order to reap the maximum benefits.

As a result, a chain of Juan Valdez boutiques has sprung up in Colombia, and is now being exported to the United States and Spain. In response, Starbuck’s recently decided to try its hand in Colombia. The Juan Valdez Café is the anti-Starbuck par excellence. Here you can drink coffees from the producers’ federation.

Café de baristas

This concept is slowly gaining ground in Colombia. It’s the last straw in the land of coffee, but that’s the way it is.

In these places, you can enjoy different varieties selected and prepared by a barista in different ways, depending on the coffee machines used. These coffee concepts are beginning to emerge in Colombia along the lines of those found in Europe and the United States.

You’ll often find opportunities to buy quality coffees in these passionate places. Cafécultor in Bogotá, for example, follows exactly this model, with a social and ethical approach.

OUR FAVORITE COLOMBIAN CAFÉS

From now on, we’ve decided that we’ll always buy our coffee from Café Cultor in Bogotá. They are passionate about working with micro-farms selected for their quality all over the country. The partnerships aim to pay producers a fair price, help them develop their business and train them in more environmentally-friendly production methods.

Our current favorites:

  • Agustino Forest (Huila): $35.000 COP per 500 gr.
  • Manaure (Cesar): $35.000 COP per 500 gr.

Where to find the stores:

  • Candelaria, inside the Library – Calle 11 # 4 – 14
  • Chapinero – Calle 69 # 6 – 20
  • Quinta Camacho, in the Wilborada 1047 bookshop – Calle 71 # 10 – 47
  • Quinta Camacho – Calle 70A #9 – 44

Bringing back Colombian coffee

A TASTY SOUVENIR FROM COLOMBIA!

Where to find Colombian coffee?
Coffee vendor and her Willis in Manizales

If there’s one gift idea that’s fun to bring back from a trip to Colombia, from our point of view, it’s coffee!

Specialty coffee in the fincas

Normally, all the fincas we visit offer their coffee for direct sale to individuals. At the end of the tour, you’ll always be offered a taste of the black nectar, which will give you an idea of the quality of the coffee and convince you to buy a few packs, for yourself and to take home as a souvenir for family and friends.

As the tours are relatively inexpensive, this also allows you to appreciate the work of the coffee growers.

In specialty coffee shops

When you visit barista cafés like Café Cultor, you’ll find enthusiasts who work with hand-picked, small-scale producers. You’re almost guaranteed to come back with some great coffee in your suitcase!

Brand-name coffee shops

For brands such as Juan Valdez, Quindio, Oma, Tostao… there are specialized stores selling their products. You’ll find them all over the country’s major cities, and even in airports. So you can enjoy a good tinto and take home a few packages as a souvenir.

In supermarkets

The last option for buying coffee in Colombia is simply to go to the supermarket, where you’ll find all the major brands: all those mentioned above and many more.

Where to find Colombian coffee abroad

ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE

Where to find Colombian coffee?

You’ll always find export-quality Colombian coffee in roasteries. But these are often bulk coffees from the federation and you’ll need to find a good roaster because that makes the difference.

Avoid supermarket Colombian coffees, which are never of good quality.

Colombian specialty coffee

If you love coffe, and if you want good quality coffee, then you’ll want to find “specialty coffee”.

All over the world there always will be a colombian that decided to run small-scale supplier projects who want to offer the best of Colombian specialty coffee. Check if it exists in your town. And if not, check on the web and you’ll find a way to get some with home delivery.

At the roaster’s

When we are abroad, and our coffee brought from Colombia runs out, and we’re not lucky enough to receive “special packages” from the family, we turn to our local roasters.

In any case, we never buy from the supermarket!

Finally, a few technical details: the names Excelso or Supremo refer only to the size of the bean, not to its taste or quality.

In Latin stores

To find some of the Colombian brands mentioned above, you’ll need to visitLatin or Colombianstores in Paris and elsewhere.

On the big web platforms

At last, if you didn’t find your need, then have a look a the big web platforms. You’ll find Juan Valdes Cofee, among others. You can also check using “colombian specialty coffee” terms.

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Authors

Angélica & Samuel

We are Angélica and Samuel, a French-Colombian couple, professional photographers and web editors specializing in travel to Colombia. We created this blog to change the image of the country, help you prepare your trip and inspire you to discover Colombia in a different way!

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