Although coffee originated in Ethiopia, Colombian coffee is perhaps the most famous thanks to the fictional character Juan Valdez and his amicable donkey who have given Colombian coffee a friendly face since the 1950s when this pair began appearing in commercials. No one really knows when Colombia got its first coffee plant, but many experts think it was introduced by Jesuit priests in the mid-16th century. However, it wasn't until about 1835 that Colombia first exported coffee to the U.S. Today, Colombia exports nearly 10 million bags each year, and it is the third leading exporter of coffee behind Brazil and Vietnam.
Coffee thrives when grown at high altitudes in warm weather. Colombia offers a perfect environment. The tree that produces the beans which make Arabica coffee (the Coffea Arabica tree) likes to grow in a shaded area with well drained soil. Colombia's mountainous terrain, with its rich volcanic dirt, provide what the coffee tree needs especially when grown under the shade of rubber and banana trees. This results in a rich, full-bodied coffee that is used in most coffee houses and residences worldwide.
Colombian coffee is produced in two regions of Colombia, the Eastern region and the Central region. Coffee that comes from trees grown in the Central region has a rich flavor and a balanced acidity. The Eastern region is more mountainous and, therefore, produces a less acidic, richer tasting coffee. Many coffee aficionados prefer beans which come from the Eastern region.
Even in Colombia, producing fine coffee takes skill and persistence. The Coffea Arabica tree must be nurtured for three to four years before it even produces the berries which contain the coffee Beans. The trees must be carefully pruned and cultivated so that they do not overproduce berries. Too many berries make for a lower quality coffee. Once the berries are ripe, they must be carefully picked, most of the time by hand. The handling process is critical to making the best coffee.
Colombian coffee is a worldwide favorite for its rich taste and full flavor. Visit any coffee house, or gourmet specialty store and you're sure to see a variety of Colombian blends along with some interesting blends that makes Colombian and Brazilian coffees to please the palate of the avid coffee drinker.
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