While a lot of the coffee here at John’s Coffee is sourced from African beans, today we turn our attention to one of the exceptions. Unsurprisingly, our Colombia Espresso beans come from Colombia.
More surprisingly, perhaps, while it does make excellent espresso, it is also wonderful pour-over coffee. It’s a medium roast, though on the darker side, with flavour notes of caramel, chocolate, apple and bright berries. It enjoys a mild, refreshing acidity.
Colombia is not an area of the world I knew much about, other than my recent obsession with Disney’s Encanto. So, in setting out to research this post, my first stop was Wikipedia. However you feel about the accuracy of the site, it’s usually good for an interesting anecdote or two.
Coffee as penance
In this case, the legend is from the early days of coffee in Colombia. The story goes that Colombian farmers were not keen to start planting coffee, it being a crop that can take several years to start providing a good yield. The priest Francisco Romero began assigning the planting of coffee trees as penance when he heard confessions. The practice spread and so, the tale would have it, coffee finally took root in Colombia.
Stories like this are why I love the history of coffee. It’s full of strange twists like this. A man as committed to his faith as to his coffee habit, may be a factor in Colombia becoming the coffee giant it is today.
Trying to verify the truth of this story led me to another, definitely fictional, man.
And his mule, Conchita
Juan Valdez was a creation of an advertising agency in 1958 to help the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia. The symbol of Juan Valdez (and his mule) was used to show coffee as 100% from Colombia, not blended with inferior beans. His role in the history of coffee in Colombia, to making Colombia beans a brand in their own right, is essential.
The symbol, and the character, have been used ever since, becoming something of a coffee icon. He has been portrayed by several different actors over the years and exists as a character to meet in Colombia’s National Coffee Park.
I found no information on who played Conchita.
Back in reality
Coffee is an important part of the Colombian economy, and Colombia is an in important part of world coffee. So much so, that UNESCO have made the coffee cultural landscape of Colombia a world heritage site. They cite it as “an exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape”.
Coffee has been in Colombia since the 1830s, and has grown to be one of the country’s largest exports. They are the third largest producers of coffee after Brazil and Vietnam. The conditions are perfect, and coffee is grown in 16 regions across the country for a total of 850 000 hectares of coffee producing farms. They take their coffee very seriously in Colombia.
It’s why we have faith in our Colombia Espresso. The farms we source our beans from changes by season and availability, but we always choose quality.