Colombia and coffee go hand in hand. It is no longer an underdeveloped country. Over the last 15 years, it has received over $181 Billion in foreign direct investment. Currently, it is the world’s 31st (As of 2020)largest economy(by GDP). As the nation has shifted to a more stable political system and tried to curb its armed conflicts, economists predict that the nation will become a favorable nation for business. Colombia has a negative trade balance of $13.24 Billion. This negative trade balance means the nation exports fewer goods than it imports. Every year, Colombia exports $40.5 Billion. The top 5 exports for this country are:
- Mineral fuels including oil ($21.3 billion)
- Coffee, tea, spices ($2.6 billion)
- Gems, precious metals ($2.2 billion)
- Fruits, nuts ($2 billion)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers ($1.4 billion)
History of Coffee Production in Colombia
Coffee production in Colombia began in the 1830s. Throughout the twentieth century, coffee was Colombia’s main export crop. Currently, the coffee industry employs the majority of the Colombian rural population. According to a report by the FNC, unemployed reached a record low back in 2015. Moreover, it is also estimated that most coffee farms in Colombia are now under-staffed. As the demand for labor is high and the supply is low, the labor cost has risen significantly over the last few years.
At present, coffee is a major export of Colombia. It is the nation’s 2nd largest export. It is 6.5% of the nation’s total annual exports. At the beginning of this decade, Colombian coffee farmers had to change their production structure to respond to climate change. Thanks to their fully renovated plantation process, they reached 11.5 Million bags in a single year.
Colombia is the largest producer and exporter of washed Arabica coffee. Last year, it produced 12.5 Million 6-kg bags of Arabica CoffeeSource, which is higher than any other coffee exporting nation. Unlike other nations, Colombia relies on its small scale farmers, who own 5 hectares of land on average. 33% of Colombia’s rural population, which is a little over 2.2 Million people, make a living by producing coffee.
Coffee is a rich crop that has lifted many poor rural families out of poverty. At its core, one organization played a major role- Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC). Established in 1927, this organization has been the driving force that made Colombia one of the world’s largest coffee producers. This organization regulates coffee production in Colombia.
Why Is Colombian Coffee So Good?
The FNC plays a critical role in determining the quality of the coffee produced in Colombia. They have a specific standard and a cultivation guideline that most farmers have to stick to. Moreover, the FNC works as a middleman that connects the Colombian coffee farmers with global buyers.
But in recent times, more and more Colombian farms are coming up with their specialty coffee. They are developing their farm-specific coffee profiles. Thanks to Colombia’s volcanic soils, and temperate climate, Colombia can grow rich specialty coffee.
The Growing and Harvesting Process
Colombia has a diverse terrain. Three Andean mountains stretch from the North to the South. Thanks to the mountains, Colombia has large variations in soils, altitude, winds, and microclimates. These land and climate properties help Colombian farmers grow different types of coffee beans.
Coffee in Colombia is processed using a fully washed method. Some of the notable coffee growing regions in Colombia include- Antioquia, Huila, Sierra Nevada, Eje Cagfetreo, among others. Antioquia is the headquarters of the FNC. It is the epicenter of the Colombian coffee industry. Coffee farms in this region, coffee farms sit at a high altitude of up to 2,200m (7,217 feet).
Depending on the region, coffee is harvested year-round. The main harvest season in Colombia is from October to February. The peak harvest season in November and December.
After the harvest, farmers proceed to the sun-drying step. They take their coffee beans and spread them across the flat surface of their roofs. Farms at a high altitude and cold climate use Polytunnels and Parabolic beds. Parabolic Beds are Greenhouses shaped like Hoop Houses. It protects the coffee beans from rain and mist. It also prevents condensation to drip back down to the drying beans.
Types of Colombian Coffee
Colombian coffee has a medium to full-bodied flavor, sweet citric fruit notes, and vivid acidity. The most common coffee varieties include Bourbons, Caturra, Tabi, and Castillo. Colombian coffee farmers now have many export partners who help market their specialty coffee.
The National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) provides a price list of all available coffee beans on its website per 125kg coffee parchments. If you are thinking about buying your next batch of coffee beans from Colombia, the average cost per kilo of coffee beans will cost you somewhere around $2-$5. The price varies depending on the coffee variety you are buying and the time of the year.
Buyers are subject to the contribution-cafeteria tax, which is USD 9.24 per 70 kilos of coffee beans. While procuring coffee beans from Colombia, you have to consider the rural road conditions, which are subject to abrupt landslides.
This article shed light on the topic of Colombia and the Coffee industry. Colombia is the second largest exporter of coffee. It exports $2.6 Billion coffee beans annually, which is 8.7% of the global coffee industry.source It is second to Brazil, which exports 4.6 Billion worth of coffee beans every year.
Coffee is still Colombia’s number one crop export. There are over 875,000 hectares of coffee farms throughout the country. Farmers with less than one hectare of farmland are the main producers of coffee in Colombia.
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