How To Make Colombian Coffee (Tinto, Aguapanela & More)

I love learning how to make different styles of coffee from around the world at home. Colombian coffee is some of the highest quality coffee I’ve ever tasted, so I had to be able to make it at home.

It took me some practice to master, but now I know all the tricks.

In this guide, I'll talk you through brewing coffee the Colombian way. Let's go!

Traditional Colombians brew coffee in two different ways:

1. Colador Brewing

A colador is a cloth filter. It’s hung on a circular wire with ground coffee on top of it.

Hot water is poured over the coffee grounds and passes through the cloth filter to create a cup of coffee Colombians love.

The colador method is similar to the classic pour-over coffee. The only difference is that it uses a traditional cloth filter instead of a paper filter.

This helps preserve the coffee oils and creates a more flavorful cup of coffee.

2. Olleta Brewing

An olletta is a coffee pot that Colombians often use to make a delicious cup of coffee. Coffee grounds and hot water are added to the olleta and boiled.

The olletta is then removed from the heat and left so the ground coffee beans sink to the bottom.

Once the coffee is settled, it's poured into the cup. No filter is used, so some burnt coffee grounds can reach your cup.

However, experienced Colombian brewers will usually stop this from happening.

Sugar and Spice - The Colombian Secret!

Colombians brew coffee differently from the rest of the world and like to add different flavors to their coffee.

When brewing Arabica coffee, it's common to use panela (raw sugar) or spices (like cinnamon or ginger) to alter the flavor.[1]

This means there's a lot of variety in Colombian coffee, depending on where it's brewed.

Spices Cinnamon, Sugar, Star Anise

Learn How To Brew Like You’re In Bogota!

The key to Colombian coffee is a slow brewing process and high-quality ingredients. You can use different coffee makers and brewing methods to create it.

You can use espresso machines, drip machines, or even an Aeropress or Moka pot.

Below are two recipes I use for making great-tasting Colombian coffee. One is simple, and the other more complicated - but it will make a more authentic Colombian brew.

Simple Colombian Recipe

I recommend using a French press for simple and delicious Colombian coffee, but you can use alternative coffee makers.

Ingredients:
  • 100% Colombian coffee
  • Sugar, sweetener, or spices (optional)
  • Hot water (8-10oz)
Barista HQ Note: I recommend a high-quality Colombian brand like Volcanica or a reliable brand like Starbucks. Whole beans will give you fresher coffee than coffee grounds, but you can use either. A medium roast level is best.
Equipment needed:
  • French press with filter
Instructions:
  1. Preheat your French press.
  2. Add 20-30g of Colombian coffee.
  3. Pour the rest of your hot water into the French press and mix.
  4. Leave the coffee for 4-6 minutes to absorb the flavor. You can add sugar syrup or spices at this point.
  5. Press the plunger to filter the grounds.
  6. Pour the coffee into a cup and add milk or sugar to taste. Great coffee from Colombia is usually sweet.
  7. Relax and enjoy.

Authentic Colombian Coffee Recipe

For authentic Colombian coffee, use an aluminum pot (similar to an oletta) and use the pour-over technique. You can also experiment with different flavors and create unique Colombian coffee.

Ingredients:
  • 100% Colombian coffee
  • Sugar cane and spices (optional). Aguapanela works best, and I'll tell you how to make it further down the page.
  • Hot water (8-10oz)
Barista HQ Note: Freshly roasted beans are best, but use a coarser grind for this method. A medium roast level is best, but you can use any Colombian coffee (including Starbucks, Folgers, or Kirkland Colombian blend).
Equipment needed:
  • Large metal jug
  • Coffee pot or cafetiere
  • Cloth filter
Instructions:
  1. Grind the beans to medium-coarse coffee grinds.
  2. Heat the water to just below the boiling point.
  3. Attach the filter to the French press or cafetiere.
  4. Mix in the sugar syrup AKA aguapanela (optional, but recommended).
  5. Pour the hot water slowly over the mix of coffee and sugar syrup, a little at a time. Take your time to maximize the rich flavor and get the best coffee. Repeat until you've poured all the hot water.
  6. Fill your cup and enjoy. Pour the strong coffee into a cup and enjoy. You can add extra sugar, milk, or cream to taste.
Making Authentic Colombian Coffee At Home

What Is a Traditional Colombian Tinto? (For The Coffee Purists!

Tinto coffee is thicker, more concentrated, and made slightly differently. It's basically a strong black coffee with sugar, and it's what you typically order in a Colombian coffee shop.

It's the most popular way Colombians brew coffees.

Colombian Tinto is an important part of Colombian coffee culture and a coffee you definitely need to try. 

It's distinctly different from regular coffee in the same way espressos are different from regular coffee.

Tinto refers to the color of the drink (in the same way vino tinto means red wine). The word "tinto" means ink or inky water, and it's called tinto coffee because it's so dark and thick.

Tinto is made in a similar way to pour over coffee.

Usually, the coffee and water are cooked in an aluminum pot using lower-quality local coffee bean varieties (not bad coffee, just lower-quality beans).

It's made in large batches and sold in stalls across the country.

Tinto is usually served with a lot of sugar or aguapanela but never milk. It has a smooth, sweet, and distinctive taste, but it's not harsh or intense like espresso.

It's easy to drink, and it's no surprise that it's been popular for so long.

How To Make Tinto Coffee

Ingredients needed:
  • Colombian coffee beans
  • Hot water (10oz)
  • Panela unrefined sugar cane - a brand like Bonraw or Chatica is best, but you can use regular sugar
Barista HQ Note: You need to use a Colombian Arabica variety here. I recommend using a local brand like Sella Rojo (or Volcanica if you want better quality coffee). A medium or dark roast is best for brewing and drinking Tinto.
Equipment needed:
  • Coffee grinder (if using whole beans)
  • Cooking pot
Instructions:
  1. Pour hot water into the metal pot. Place the pot over heat and let it gently boil.
  2. With the water boiled, add 20-30g of Colombian coffee. Use a coarse grind.
  3. Add the spices. Start with small amounts of cinnamon or cloves and add more to taste. You can also add brown sugar syrup or aguapanela.
  4. Let the coffee grounds sink to the bottom and leave the mix to blend and simmer. The brewing time may vary, typically 6-10 minutes.
  5. Take a spoon and remove any coffee floating on the top. This will give you a smoother brew.
  6. Carefully pour the strong cup of coffee and keep the grounds out of your drink.
  7. Add sugar to taste. You can have your Tinto with milk, but it may ruin the natural flavor.
  8. Relax and enjoy your fresh brew!
Person Making a Tinto Coffee Recipe At Home

What Is a Colombian Aguapanela? (For The Adventurous Coffee Drinkers!)

Aguapanela is a traditional drink from Colombia and South America. It comes from the words ‘agua’ (which means water) and ‘panela’ (which is unrefined cane sugar).

Aguapanela is literally sugar syrup water. Aguapanela is made by submerging the panela sugar in boiling water until it completely dissolves. 

Panela water can be enjoyed on its own, but it’s also popular with freshly ground Colombian coffee.

The mixture of coffee and agua panela gives the perfect balance of bold coffee with sweet flavors.

If you want to feel like you are in Colombia making coffee, you must try coffee served with Aguapanela. It's the perfect breakfast brew or early evening pick-me-up.

How To Make Aguapanela Coffee

Ingredients:
  • 5 cups of water for the aguapanela
  • 2 cups of grated panela cane sugar
  • 10oz hot water for the coffee
  • 100% Colombian coffee
Equipment:
  • Boiling pot for the aguapanela.
  • Coffee maker (the espresso/coffee machines, or brewing equipment will depend on your brewing method)
  • Small cup for your coffee
Step-by-step instructions
  • 1
    Make the aguapanela.
    Place the water and panela together into a pot and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer for 30-40 minutes until the panela has dissolved. Stir it regularly until you are left with a syrup.
  • 2
    Brew the coffee using whatever method you prefer.
    I recommend using a pour-over or French press when making Colombian coffee at home, but you can also use a drip coffee maker for a Colombian brew filter coffee.
  • 3
    Mix the coffee and aguapanela.
    Combine the brewed coffee with the sugar syrup. You should be left with a sweet and refreshing coffee.
  • 4
    Add extras and enjoy.
    Pour the Colombian-style coffee and add any milk, sugar, or extras. Relax and enjoy your perfect cup of sweet Colombian coffee.

The aguapanela coffee recipe is different across Colombia. You can experiment with different ratios and coffee types and really taste the difference.

Eventually, you’ll create a recipe that you truly love.

Aguapanela Colombian Coffee

Related Making Colombian Coffee Questions

What makes Colombian coffee so good?

Coffee from Colombia is highly regarded because of its quality and taste. Colombia has volcanic soil and the perfect climate for growing the best beans. Their coffee cultivation and growing industry is also second to none, with over 560,000 farms producing high-quality coffee.[2]

Is Colombian coffee always 100% arabica?

Yes, all Colombian coffee is Arabica. This gives the coffee a richer taste and fuller aroma. It also makes the coffee less bitter than Robusta bean blends.[3]

What makes Colombian coffee unique?

Coffee in Colombia is made with a mix of different Arabica coffee beans grown at a high altitude in the Colombian mountains. This creates a unique flavor profile with chocolate, caramel, and fruity notes.


Summary: Start Brewing Today!

Colombian coffee is typically strong and sweet, and it's pretty easy to recreate at home. It's all about using the right ingredients and taking your time.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how to make a Colombian coffee drink, and you now feel confident enough to start brewing.

I recommend you start by buying authentic Colombian coffee and using a pour-over technique.

Then, over time, you can add sugar syrup or spices to enhance the flavor and really capture the essence of Colombia.

References:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panela
2. https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/colombian-coffee-culture-how-coffee-is-different-in-colombia
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770458/ 

ShayAnne Weeks

Author

ShayAnne Weeks
Shay is a fun-loving content writer and DJ who enjoys traveling the world whenever, wherever possible. The lifeblood that makes it all attainable has always been a strong cup (or 3) of coffee.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... A Café Cubano con Leche

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