Colombia is a notable producer of coffee: the third largest coffee producer after Brazil and Vietnam(Vietnam heavily concentrates on Robusta). Colombia’s tropical weather, volcanic soil, and hilly landscape throught the nation are ideal for coffee production.
The country has developed the coffee production since the early era of South American coffee history. In the late 50s, the country set up National Federation of Coffee Growers(FNC), the organization which controls the coffee quality and makes coffee internationaly competitive prouct. NFC’s effort was very successful in terms of the marketing. The name “Colombia coffee” has gained great reputation among general consumers in the world.
In contrast to the development of coffee distribution system in Colombia, regional and varietal characteristics aren’t appreciated as much as they deserve. Colombia coffee is often described “well balanced”, but it often lacks rememberable characteristics. That is due to the low to med grade coffee widely distributed to supermarkets and large coffee chain. The coffee is graded based on the size of the beans rather than origin. The average Colombia you find at supermarkets is just mixed beans from different origins within the country. I imagine that leads to the description of well balanced but lacks distinctive characteristics.
Caturra and Castillo seem to be the major varietals planted throughout Colombia. There are some Bourbon and Typica grown as well. This year’s Roya(leaf rust disease) will probably replace some Caturra and other varietals with newer rust disease resistant Castillo. Catillo is regarded as an acceptable quality varietal, but cleaner Typica or Bourbon would naturally do better job to display Colombia’s various and rich terroir.
I don’t necessarily think certified coffee always has better quality, but in this case, that applies. El Roble, which is certified by Rainforest Alliance, Bird Friendly, and USDA Organic, produces great Typica. Santander’s Mesa de Los Santos, where El Roble is located, has extreme gap in climate between day time and night time due to its high elevation of average 5000 feet.
The El Roble’s Typica has bright acidity and very mild mouth feel, and great clarity in a cup. Typica’s cleanliness is a perfect tool to reflect rich and diverse terroir of Colombia. How the volcanic soil of Andes differentiates its coffee from Central American coffee is such a romance for curious coffee seekers.