Columbia is well known for its kind people, diverse landscapes, salsa dancing and of course, coffee!
They export millions of bags of beans a year. This is great because the coffee is tasty but it also means a saturated market where too many brands offering similar beans leave people feeling overwhelmed with choice.
In this post, we're going to make it easier for you by listing the top Colombian coffee brands you can purchase today and start enjoying tomorrow. We'll also cover how they're grown, what flavors you can expect and some history because... well, it's interesting!
Don't have time to read the whole article? Here's the Top Recommended Colombian Coffee:
Top Recommended Colombian Coffee
If you're in a hurry and just want to know our top recommended Colombian coffee brand, this is it.
Here's a question for you: what do you get when you take some of the best beans in the world and you hand them over to a premium coffee brand? Answer: A really tasty and high-quality coffee sure to please any coffee lover.
Gevalia is a company based out of Sweden (which is also the country with the third highest consumption of coffee in the world, who knew?) and is well known in Northern Europe and in the US for being a premium brand.
This blend, in particular, is single-origin and is sourced from the slopes of Colombia's mountains. It features a medium intensity and body.
Give this a try, chances are, you'll find your next favorite coffee blend.
Our Joe Rating: 9.6/10
About Colombian Coffee
Colombia has an interesting relationships with coffee. Let's explore more about it together.
Brief History of Colombian Coffee
The coffee bean originated in Africa, made its way through Europe and was finally introduced to Columbia in 1730. It wasn't until 1835 when the first commercial bags of green coffee beans were exported. From then until the end of the 1800s, coffee production shot skywards to an annual production of more than 600,000 bags. (1) In 2019, they reported producing 13.5 million bags which is over 3% of Colombia's GDP and third worldwide behind Brazil and Vietnam.
Today, the largest consumer of Colombian Coffee is the United States followed by Japan.
Colombian Coffee Types
There are two main types of coffee beans grown around the world, Robusta and Arabica. Columbia produces only the Arabica bean which is lighter and sweeter in taste.
What makes Colombian coffee unique?
Three words: Colombian Coffee Triangle.
Also known as the "Colombian coffee growing axis" or even the "coffee belt" (but we prefer the term triangle), the CCT lies in the center of the country and is made up of three main "zones" or "departments" - Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindio. These are equivalent to States or Provinces in the US/Canada. This is where most of the coffee in Colombia is grown and where you expect to find the country's standard, delicious, mild and light flavors.
We say most because they are other zones that produce coffee with slightly different acidity level (pH) and flavor profile.
For example, the north end of the country (made up of Antioquia, Cundinamarca, and Boyaca departments) has a lower altitude and warmer climate. This produces a bean with a lower acidity and fuller body.
Conversely, the south end (Narino, Cauca, and Huila) is where the altitude is higher and generally closer to the equator which translates to as higher acidity and much sweeter flavor. (2)
It's this variety that make true coffee enthusiasts excited. Colombian beans offer the chance to experience different varieties all from one country.
Why Colombian coffee is the best?
Colombian coffee's popularity and premium status can be summed up by three main factors:
- Its geography and climate;
- The type of coffee bean; and,
- The growing and harvesting process.
The ideal conditions for the coffee beans to grow is at altitudes between 1,200 to 1,800 meters above sea level, in volcanic soil, frost-free, and to receive around 80 in of rain annually. Colombia meets all those criteria. (2)
Columbian coffee farmers only grow and harvest arabica beans which are considered superior to the Robusta bean.
Additionally, the mountainous Columbian terrain also allows for more shade which prevents the beans from being scorched by the sun. This difficult terrain also means large-scale harvesting equipment can't access the plants so much of it must be done by hand!
Nearly 600,000 coffee workers are hired to "cherry pick". It's hard work when compared to using equipment but it also pays off because a human eye can spot the difference between an ideal coffee cherry and an unripe one. It's those thousands of workers that collectively maintain Colombia's reputation as a premium coffee exporter.
What does Colombian coffee taste like?
Beans from Central and South America tend to be relatively mild and light. However, Colombian coffee is different and changes slightly depending on which zone it is harvested from. However, as an overall blanket statement, it tends to be more on the sweeter side with lower acidity (even with some nutty undertones).
Is Colombian coffee the strongest?
In a word: No. Colombia grows 100% Arabica coffee beans as opposed to Robusta beans, so Colombian beans have a lower level of caffeine and a milder taste overall. On the plus side though, these beans have a higher-quality flavor and aroma. This, combined with Colombia's growing and harvesting conditions are why Colombian coffee is considered among the best in the world.
What Are The Best Colombian Coffee Brands and Beans?
After much testing, researching, and speaking with others, here is our definitive list of the best Colombian you can buy from home today. (In brackets is our Joe Score out of 10).
- Gevalia Colombian Medium Roast Ground Coffee (9.6)
- Eight O'Clock Ground Coffee, 100% Colombian Peaks (9.5)
- Cafe Quindio Gourmet Ground Coffee, Medium Roast 100% Colombian (9.5)
- Don Pablo Colombian Supremo - Medium-Dark Roast (9.3)
- Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Colombia Select (9.3)
- Don Francisco's 100% Colombia Supremo - Medium Roast (9.2)
- Café Sello Rojo Premium Colombian Coffee (9.2)
- Chock Full o’Nuts 100% Colombian Ground Coffee, Medium Roast (9.2)
For your convenience, all links go directly to Amazon. If you click one of the links in this post and purchase something on Amazon, we will get a small commission with no extra cost to you. Now, let's take a closer look at each of them closer and why.
This company based out of Maryland, USA has been around for a long time - since 1859, to be specific. That seems long enough to perfecting your roasting recipe. Originally called by a different name, they settled on Eight O'clock Coffee after they did a survey in 1919 and discovered that the most popular times for drinking coffee were 8am and 8pm. Hey, I wonder if After Eight Thin Mints were named the same way? Anyways, let's see how their 100% Colombian Peaks coffee stacks up.
This is a medium roast with a sweet finish promising a rich, winey and full-bodied taste.
Our Joe Rating: 9.5/10
You've seen Colombian Supremo before when referring to the size of the beans; this one advertises Colombian Excelso! Is one better than the other? Short answer is no. Both refer to the size of the beans. Excelso is slightly smaller but otherwise they have the exact same flavor - no need to be alarmed.
Cafe Quindio sources their beans from the department of Quindio in Colombia. Which, if you recall from the top of the post, is from the heart of the country.
They claim to roast at an ideal temperature to highlight the softness, aroma, and hints of chocolate notes. They go on to say "this has given us an exceptional reputation in the palates of coffee connoisseurs." Tall order to live up to.
Our Joe Rating: 9.5/10
Don Pablo as a company has a cool little love story beginning. Darron Burke moved to Florida in the late 80s and started dating a lady named, Eliana who was from Colombia. They would head back to her home country to visit family. He fell in love not only with them but the entire Latin culture and of course, their coffee. He took that new passion and, with his love, built Don Pablo.
Cute, right? Okay, now the coffee.
In this particular coffee blend, you can expect a Medium-Dark Roast with notes of cocoa and caramel.
It's available in both caffeinated and decaf versions. Oddly enough, the decaffeinated version is more popular.
Our Joe Rating: 9.3/10
I reviewed another Green Mountain coffee blend in my recent Best Breakfast Blend Coffees post. And here I am recommending another one of theirs. This company just knows how to make some quality coffee. They're a large company but with a small company feel which is shown in their excellent customer service and commitment towards responsibly sourcing their coffee.
This single-origin medium roast promises notes of caramel and cocoa with the bright warmth of plums and apricot. Yummy!
Our Joe Rating: 9.3/10
Francisco Gaviña, his wife, Anatolia, and their four children were exiled from Cuba during the communist revolution in the 50s, landing in Los Angeles. There, they worked to continue the century long family tradition of roasting and selling coffee beans. They started by selling beans in paper bags to the local Cuban community and now, sell worldwide from their zero-waste-to-landfill roastery.
Interestingly, the same company behind this brand also supplies McDonalds with their instore coffee. I recently covered this in my post what coffee beans does McDonalds use <LINK>.
Their 100% Colombia medium roast beans promise a sweet floral aroma and winey notes.
Side note, in addition to their 100% Colombia Supremo, they also have some other interesting flavors. If you like coconut, definitely try their Hawaiian Hazelnut too.
Our Joe Rating: 9.2/10
This is not only produced in Colombia but also widely disturbed and consumed there too. According to the company, it has been the coffee with the highest sales in Colombia for decades! What this means is that many people who either have visited or lived there have fallen in love with it and try to find it when they come home. A sure sign of a great coffee.
To ensure the maximum freshness level, they hard vacuum seal it at the end of production. It means you're going to find it difficult to open when you get it but it will be worth the manual labor.
Our Joe Rating: 9.2/10
Strange and unusual company name? Yeah, that's what I thought when I first heard of it. Cool story though; it's named after a chain of New York City coffee shops that were founded by William Black. He started the chain in the 20s after earning enough from selling nuts to Times Square theater-goers. Hence the name.
Over the past century, the company has made a name for themselves as a provider of quality coffee. One of their most notable blends is this medium to dark roast, single-origin coffee that comes in the company's classic taxicab yellow and black tin.
Our Joe Rating: 9.2/10
Now that we've thoroughly covered the top Colombian coffee blends, here are answers to some common questions we get.
What coffee do Colombians drink?
Colombians are mostly likely to drink tinto which loosely translated means "inky water". This thick and bitter drink is made from second class, lower quality beans that aren't good enough to export. To mask the taste and bitterness, they add in milk and sugar.
This might seem strange to you because there are so many Colombian coffee growers in the country. You think they could just walk over to the local coffee farm and pick some high-quality beans in their own backyard. The problem is that much of it is exported from the coffee triangle. This has been changing recently though. They've been keeping more of their own beans and the culture around drinking coffee has been changing. (4)
Does Starbucks use Colombian coffee?
If you were to walk into Starbucks now and ask where the beans in your coffee have been sourced from, you'd more than likely get an answer along the lines of "it's a blend of premium beans from Latin America and... [insert other region here]".
Since Colombia is a) from Latin America b) has great beans and c) exports millions of bags of beans every year to the US, it's almost a guarantee that Starbucks has some in their blends.
That being said, they do sell a single-origin, medium roast Colombian coffee in ground, instant, K-cup, and Nespresso. No whole bean unfortunately. Although, apparently, they used to have it around 2017.
It's very popular and promises a balanced coffee with nutty tones that's not too dark, not too light, just right. You can check it out here on Amazon.
We hope you enjoyed our breakdown of the best Colombian coffee and that your questions were answered in our research. We hope it has inspired you to give Colombian coffee a taste for yourself.