I love tasting coffee from around the world, and Colombian coffee is one of my favorites.
They produce over 11.5 million bags of coffee each year, and it's regarded as some of the best coffee in the world.
So, what does Colombian coffee taste like?
In this guide, I’ll give you the full taste description of Colombian coffee and explain why Colombian coffee is so popular.
What Does Colombian Coffee Actually Taste Like?
Colombian coffee is typically medium-bodied, mellow, rich, chocolatey, fruity, with citrus acidity. What does that really mean? Let me break it down a bit more:
It's Medium-Bodied, Smooth, And Mellow
The body of your coffee is the texture. Colombian coffee typically has a medium body, which means it’s not too thick but not light or thin.
Medium body is perfect for casual coffee drinking and is one reason why Colombian coffee is so popular.
It's Rich And Chocolatey
Despite the mellow, smooth texture, Colombian coffee has a rich flavor. It has strong chocolate notes (typically seen in dark roasts) and nutty flavors.
This rich, almost dark roast flavor is because Colombian coffee beans are grown in fertile soils and develop full-bodied flavors.
Some Colombian coffees are deeper or earthier depending on the roast level but are never harsh or bitter.
It Has Fruity Notes
Authentic Colombian coffee isn't just rich; it also has a fresh and fruity flavor. Soft or tropical fruit notes give a sweetness to the coffee, making it well-rounded and easy to drink.
Acidity in coffee adds to the flavor, and Colombian coffee is more acidic than coffee from most other regions.
This is because Colombian coffee beans are grown in conditions that help these natural acids to develop.
The citric acidity is similar to what you find in lighter roasts.
It gives Colombian coffee brighter, zesty notes that aren't in coffee from other regions. This acidity makes it perfect for espresso blends.
Colombian Coffee Grading (Explained By A Barista)
Coffee is graded to make it easier for buyers and sellers to know the quality. The grading is sometimes shown in coffee shops to help consumers identify the best coffee brands.
No central grading system exists, so every country has its own grading criteria.
Colombia grades its beans based on size. The beans are passed through perforated sieves to determine their size and given a rating.
This is a good indication of coffee quality because the larger the coffee cherries, the healthier and more flavorsome the coffee should be.
There are two grades of Colombian coffee:
These are Colombian beans sized on a screen of 17. They are larger and less common, and Supremeo coffee is considered very high quality.
These beans are still big but smaller than Supremo. They are sorted from screen sizes of 15-16 and are the most common coffee beans exported from South America.
If you want the highest quality beans, look for Supremo.
Why Does Colombia Grow Amazing Coffee? (4 Factors)
1. The Environment
Colombia has the perfect growing climate for coffee. It has tropical warmth that supports plant growth and high-elevation areas with a lower temperature.
It also gets enough rain to support healthy plant life.
Plus, Colombia has volcanic soil. This rich and fertile soil is packed with nutrients that help the coffee beans to grow.
This gives Colombian coffee a fuller taste than other coffee-growing areas.
This environment helps the coffee beans to ripen at their own pace and develop different flavor profiles.
However, it is worth noting that climate change is impacting coffee production. This may eventually hurt the Colombian coffee industry.
2. The Colombian Coffee Industry and Its Long History
Colombia is currently the world's 3rd largest producer of coffee (behind Brazil and Vietnam) and has a long history of coffee farming.
Legend has it that priest Francisco Romero required his followers to plant coffee trees, and they spread across the country.
The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia was formed in 1927. This galvanized the coffee growers on small farms and gave them more power.
From then, the Colombian coffee scene continued to grow, exporting coffee to other countries in large quantities.
They have had troubles throughout the years, but coffee production has remained stable for the past few years.
UNESCO has recognized the coffee cultural landscape of Colombia and created a World Heritage Site.
Colombian coffee farmers know how to grow coffee, and this experience helps them create the best. They use the best beans and traditional processing methods to maximize the intense flavors.
All Colombian beans are wet processed to make it the best-tasting coffee possible.
3. The Coffee Beans
The conditions and experienced coffee farmers make Colombia perfect for growing Arabica coffee.
Arabica coffee tastes superior to Robusta coffee beans, with a richer taste, smoother flavor, and more caffeine.
Using Arabica instead of Robusta coffee beans makes Colombian coffee tastier than coffee grown in other regions.
Colombia only grows Arabica beans, but there are actually 7 different varietals of Arabica coffee beans used by coffee farmers in Colombia:
4. The Variety
Colombian coffees are so popular because there are a wide variety of flavors.
The diverse region produces different-tasting coffee, influenced by the environmental factors of the growing region and the beans used.
There is a Colombian coffee for everyone. If you drink coffee, you will definitely be able to find one you love.
What Are The Main Colombian Coffee Growing Regions?
If you ask 'what does Colombian coffee taste like,' you need to consider where it's grown. Three main growing regions in Colombia produce different-tasting coffee:
Colombian coffee grown in the Northern region has chocolate and nutty flavors. It’s bolder and less acidic, giving a deeper and richer flavor with fewer citrus notes.
The North has one harvest season from October to November. The beans are grown at lower altitudes (usually around sea level) and exposed to higher temperatures.
Most coffee beans are shade-grown, allowing them to form and ripen slowly, maximizing the flavors.
Colombian coffee grown in the Southern region is bright, zesty, and citrusy, with sweet caramel notes. It's more acidic than the North or Central region and produces more complex flavors.
Southern Colombia also has one harvest season from April to June. It's hotter than the other regions, so the coffee is grown up in the Andes mountains.
This gives the coffee cherry more time to ripen and develop interesting flavors before roasting.
Southern Colombia is regarded as one of the best regions in the world for growing coffee. There are 3 sub-regions:
This region has fewer large coffee brands and more medium family-run farms. These are known to produce the best-tasting Colombian coffee and are best for light roasts.
Specialty coffee brands often use the beans from this region.
Central Colombia produces coffee with a medium body, mellow acidity, and balanced flavor profile. It has a mellow taste profile that's perfect for mild, smooth, easy-drinking coffee.
These beans produce a classic taste that is typically used in medium roasts.
Central Colombia has two harvest seasons, May to June and October to December. This means more coffee can be harvested, so it's one of the main regions for coffee brands.
What Are The Best Tasting Types Of Colombian Coffee?
Great-tasting Colombian coffees are grown in different regions, but two of the best varietals are Huila and Supremo.
These are found in Southern Colombia and have deliciously complex flavor profiles.
Huila Coffee Taste
Huila Colombian coffee beans taste smooth but with a juicy body. They have subtle notes of blackcurrant and berries combined with caramel, toffee, and nutty chocolate notes.
Huila coffee is regarded as one of the best in the world and is used by several authentic Colombian coffee brands, including Juan Valdez and Volcanica.
Volcanica uses Huila in its Fair Trade Colombian Geisha blend, one of the most sophisticated and delicious coffees I have ever tasted.
The flavor is incredible, and I recommend it to all coffee lovers.
Supremo Coffee Taste
Colombian Supremo is also regarded as one of the best-tasting coffees in the world.
It is grown high in the Andes Mountains, where the conditions let the beans grow larger, giving a rich and smooth body with hints of acidity.
Colombian Supremo provides true Colombian coffee flavors with chocolate and nutty notes.
Colombian Supremo is used by many Colombian brands, like Juan Valdez and Volcanica, and one of the best authentic Colombian coffees is the Volcanica Colombian Supremo.
Related Colombian Coffee Questions
How do I make Colombian coffee at home?
To make a great cup of Colombian coffee, you need to:
- Select a high-quality Colombian coffee beans.
- Grind the beans. Different machines require different grind sizes.
- Add water hot water (the ideal temperature is just under boiling).
- Leave to brew and enjoy.
I recommend brewing an espresso or manual drip coffee for the best-tasting Colombian coffee.
How do Colombia and Arabica Coffee differ in taste?
Colombian beans are lighter than Arabica beans, with a fruity taste and more pleasing acidity. However, the roasting and roast level of the coffee beans will also impact the flavor.
What does Colombian coffee smell like?
Colombian coffee typically has a fruity, slightly spicy, and rich aroma.
So, what does Colombian coffee taste like? Typical Colombian coffee is smooth, medium-bodied, and rich. It has chocolate and nutty flavors with a bright citrus sweetness.
The environmental factors in each growing region will impact the taste and create subtle differences in Colombian coffee flavor.
This creates unique flavors you can't find anywhere else in the world.
Colombian coffee is easy to drink and perfect for coffee newbies or experienced veterans. There’s something for everyone, and you can find Colombian coffee that suits your preferences.