Colombian Coffee

Why is it the best in the world?

I’ll start by saying that I don’t like coffee. I know and the worst part is that as a person born and raised most of my younger years there, you’d think I would! But no. Even though I love its smell the only way I like it (and kinda) is iced or in ice cream form but preferably with chocolate chips or chocolate syrup!

But Coffee is so related to Colombia that I could not ignore it. So I prepared another photo journey of how coffee originated, why Colombia’s coffee became so loved around the world and what it takes for one to get a cup of coffee.

As far as we know the plant of coffee (it is a fruit) originated in Ethiopia, Africa. There are multiple anecdotal origin stories from here have been passed down by oral history but lack evidence. For example the most famous of these is the legend of Kaldi, a 9th-century Ethiopian Arab goat herd that first observed how his flock of goats became energized by chewing on the plant. He decided to try it himself and well let’s just say he became the most energetic goat herder you ever saw! It is believed that back then the drink was made by boiling the seeds of coffee cherries. Soon the news of this energizing drink spread all throughout the Red Sea.

Because of this legend there are many coffees and coffee places that bare his name.

The first recorded evidence of the use of coffee beans that were toasted and grounded to make the coffee drink we know today comes from Yemen in the 1400’s. Coffee was used by Sufi Spiritual Elders to stay awake during their religious rituals.

There are two types of coffee beans: C. arabica and C. robusta. Yes! It is called robusta because it is more robust, this plant weathers well and can grow in lower altitudes. However coffee made from C. Robusta beans is more bitter and less tasty the coffee made from C. Arabica beans.

Colombia’s coffee is made from the C. Arabica and this is one of the factors that makes the coffee already better tasting. Another is that it is grown where this plant thrives, in the nutrient rich volcanic soil of the Andes Mountains. Photos:

Looking down on a landscape of hills covered in coffee plants near Manizales Colombia. Cr. Kim

This is what the plant looks like in various stages.

Process of Creating a Cup of Coffee from Scratch

Planting and growing the plant

Just like any fruit plant, you plant the seeds and arabica trees mature in three to four years, when they produce their first crop. The arabica plant then can continue to produce fruits for about 50 years although the fruit yield decreases significantly after about 30.


This refers to taking the cherries from the trees. It can be done by hand or with machines. Here is another marker for what makes Colombian coffee the best. Because it is harvested by many small farms, it is picked most of the time by hand. This means that farmers take only the ripe cherries leaving the ones that are yellow or green behind. With machines it basically clears the whole plant of its cherries regardless.

Hulling / Pulping: Removing the Shells

Coffee beans have two coats around the seed. One is the red outer coating and then very close to the seed is another translucent coat. Both must be removed in order to get good tasting coffee as these make the coffee taste bitter and even acid. There are two ways to do this:

The Dry Method

The dry method takes weeks of moving the beans under the sun. The outer red shell becomes deep brown and can falls off. They are put through a milling machine that by much movement takes the outer shells off. There is a lot of raking involved.

The Wet Method

This method if faster and yields peeled coffee beans in less than a week. The beans are soaked until to help that first layer come off… water pressure is used to move them around and pulping machines finish the job. After the green coffee beans are placed in fermentation tanks where the second layer dissolves or hulling machinery finalizes taking them off.

In this video you can see pulping machines in line taking off the red shells:

Then they need to be dried again. Yes more raking!

Sorting Green Coffee Beans

Coffee beans are sorted by passing them through a series of screens. Beans that are defective (over fermented, insect damaged or unhulled) are discarded. This is a sorting machine:

And this is also done by hand:

Sorting determines its grade or quality. This is an example of how they are graded by a company called Verra Coffee:


This is the highest grade of beans, so the beans will have zero primary defects for each 300g of coffee beans.


This is the second highest grade, and the one that you will be drinking if you purchase premium coffee. These beans are almost the same as Grade 1 coffee beans, but are allowed a maximum of 3 quakers or 0-8 full defects per 300g of coffee.


Also called commercial grade coffee beans, these are what you will find in most supermarket brands, and will have an acceptable taste for most people. It will have between 9-23 full defects in every 300g lot.


These will have 24 to 86 full defects per 300g. This is low quality coffee.


More than 87 full defects per 300g. You will not want these beans. (1)

Cupping or Tasting the Coffee

This is the process of roasting and grinding small amounts of coffee to determine the quality in taste of the coffee.

This is how coffee is tasted by producers and buyers around the world to check the quality of a batch of coffee. In cupping, coffees are scored for aspects such as cleanness, sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel and aftertaste. (2)

Exporting the Green Beans

Once sorted the green beans are placed into jute or sisal sacks by grade and weight.

Roasting or Toasting

Roasting transforms green coffee beans into the aromatic brown beans we purchase in coffee shops or supermarkets. Most machines maintain the temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The beans are kept moving through the entire process to prevent them from burning.

Roasting is a process that involves heating the coffee beans to a high temperature, while toasting is a process that involves lightly heating the coffee beans over a direct heat source. Both processes have a significant impact on the flavor of the coffee, as the chemical composition of the bean is changed during the process. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the beans, while toasting gives the beans a more intense flavor. The result of each process is a unique flavor that can greatly influence the taste of the coffee. (3)

Coffee Roasting at the NYC Starbucks Reserve. Cr. Maria G. Acuna


Oh! We are so close to the cup of coffee! Yes in this step we turn those roasted or toasted coffee beans into powder. How it will be used helps to determine how coarse or thin you’ll want it. This is a great chart illustrating this:

Cr. Mycoffeebase. com

Grinding machines have really changed overtime…

Brewing the Coffee

Coffee can be brewed in various ways… manually or with machines and basically it means adding liquid to it whether it is water, milk or … ?

This is another brewing? variation… whipped coffee or ‘Dalgona coffee’ brought to the limelight by the Korean actor Jung Il-woo.

and… tadaaan!

Enjoy your Coffee!!!

Cr. Torani. com

How I wished I liked coffee… it does looks so good! Sigh…


(1) verracoffee. com

(2) Thebaristainstitute com

(3) Thecommonscafe. com


  1. Hola María Gabriela, yo sabía un poco sobre el largo y delicado proceso que lleva sembrar, cosechar, secar y luego elaborar un buen café. Pero el café colombiano tiene unos estándares de calidad superiores y por eso todo el proceso es muy exigente y requiere un personal muy capacitado y mucho más tiempo que cualquier otro café comercial. Se han ganado el prestigio que tienen de ser el mejor café del mundo. Yo si tomo café y compro café marca Colombia y lo tomo tanto expreso como colado y es realmente delicioso.
    Disfrute mucho este post. Gracias


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