Colombia is the country most synonymous with coffee production. For decades the federal government has invested strongly in the development, stability, logistics, and marketing of its coffee around the world. It also invests heavily in the representation and dignity of Colombia’s coffee farmer families, over half a million of them, the vast majority of whom grow coffee on less than 5 hectares of land. Colombia is firmly at the top of the producer country food chain in terms of quality, small-farm logistics, plant revitalisation, productivity, and overall quality.

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About Colombia Green Coffee

The different cordilleras of the Andes mountains run vertically through the western half of the country, creating a massive trough of fertile territory with heavily textured mountain ranges on either side, allowing for an endless variety of high tropical terroirs. Colombia’s most affordable blended coffees are reliably bright, creamy, enzymatically complex, and marmalade-like in profile. The country’s best coffees, from carefully-curated regional blends to single-bag microlots, are indescribably diverse–anything from lemongrass and green tea, to plum jam and melted chocolate, to jasmine and rose, to winey fruit. No summary of flavor profiles will do any coffee country justice, but doing so for Colombia is particularly futile given the immensity of range between different departments, microclimates, elevations, varieties, and increasingly the processing savoir-faire among small farmers. For the uninitiated: plan on tasting unexpectedly delicious Colombias for the rest of your life.

The coffee regions in Colombia are abundant, steep, dense and craggy, and, particularly in the south, volcanic. The varying microclimates and harvest periods create a sense of endlessness for a novice coffee traveler. There are 20 departments producing coffee in Colombia, spanning from the Caribbean coast in the north, down through the center-west of the country to the Ecuador border. Coffee is produced as far east as the Amazonian border of Boyacá department, and as far west as outer Antioquia, the department where coffee in Colombia was first introduced. Aside from Antioquia the most celebrated and accomplished departments in terms of productivity and terroir recognition include the more southern departments of Huila, Tolima, Valle de Cauca, Cauca, and Nariño. Roasters in the specialty coffee world tend to be the most familiar with these departments from experience; however, great coffee comes from all over. Royal has also bought coffee from the very unique terroir of the Sierra Nevada mountain, in Colombia’s far northern Magdalena department, for many years, for example, and they are not only jammy and wonderfully complex in the cup, but they also come from some of the country’s most experienced organic farmers.


Today, the majority of coffee varieties in production in Colombia are rust-resistant hybrids originally developed by CENICAFE, Colombia’s federal coffee research institute, to combat recent outbreaks of coffee leaf rust that devastated large parts of Central and South America from 2011-2013. However, Colombia’s coffee remains very genetically diverse, including red bourbon, caturra, tabí, gesha, wush wush, and even “pink” bourbon, a tangy, pink-skinned mutation of red bourbon which producers in southern Huila are starting to promote.

Coffee is always being harvested in Colombia, and unless you have a very specific preference, there is brisk, fresh coffee available all year long. The range of price points, physical preparations, and frequent shipments makes Colombia the ideal coffee for light roast blends where the nuances of terroir and freshness are on display. Colombia’s northern departments (Magdalena, Santander, Antioquia, etc.) harvest coffee along with Central America, from September to December; and the southern departments (Nariño and Cauca) harvest along with Peru and Ecuador, from March to June. The country’s central departments, however, typically have a principal harvest and another fly crop harvest a few months after. Huila, for example, has such variable patterns that different sub-regions in the department are harvesting coffee anywhere from March to December. Tolima, Quindío, and Valle de Cauca each have two harvest periods, with main crops in either the fall or spring, and fly crops in the spring or fall, depending on where in the department coffee is grown. We know what you’re thinking, and yes, if you wanted to run an entire roasting business off of just Colombia coffee, you could, and that would be rad. In Colombia coffee is being harvested every month of the year. The country exports 12-14 million bags of coffee annually, putting it third in the world behind Brazil and Vietnam. Which is all the more astounding when you consider that they produce entirely arabica coffee and the vast majority of it is specialty grade. 

Fully washed coffees are the norm in Colombia, but that doesn’t mean processing is uniform by any means. Microclimates vary widely, and producers on small parcels of land have learned to be extremely creative with their operations, sometimes rigging together retractable screens that can be wheeled in and out from under their roofs depending on the weather. Some may depulp on the roof and let the coffee drop through a pipe to a tank directly below so the coffee can ferment indoors. Parchment may take 5 days to adequately dry, or one full month depending on relative humidity. Coffee is occasionally processed centrally on shared community equipment calibrated by growers’ associations. Despite the prevalence of washed coffee, and the lack of national infrastructure for other processing styles, we are seeing more and more full natural and anaerobic or custom fermentations among entrepreneurial producers, with full support of their millers and exporters, and expect these types of coffees to only grow in availability with time.

The Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC) is a governmental organization similar to the USDA but focused entirely on the health of the country’s national coffee sector. The FNC publishes daily public price references, operates parchment buying warehouses, has an extensive national field team to advise and calibrate production standards, and in light of the low market years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, created a USD $64M Price Stabilization Fund to supplement internal prices to producers, in an effort to guarantee that no coffee producer would be forced to sell their coffee below cost. In many regards the FNC is a safety net for growers, and is considered the strongest national coffee sector in the world.

Fly crops are smaller, secondary regular harvests that occur separately from the majority harvest months during an annual cycle. Fly crops are most common in countries on or near the equator, where seasonal changes are subtle and rains are periodic rather than concentrated. Colombia has the most erratic harvest calendar of any single producing country due to its position on both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans, its proximity to the equator, and its multiple mountain ranges which generate a range of climate influences on the coffee plant.