Most people have had Columbian Coffee (see the footnote) and probably drink it every day, without even thinking about it. Yet it's easy to find in stores, coffee shops and buy at online stores; and you will find that almost every coffee brand supplies their own variation on the theme of Columbian coffee.
In fact, I've tried many brands of Colombian coffee, including the Millstone's Colombian Coffee, and Costco's, and Starbucks, to mention but three popular choices. Each of these were very smooth and palatable, though I also enjoyed very much First Colony's Rainforest blend.
Overall, I found that Columbian coffee's reputation as being a very popular, high-quality coffee - that is carefully grown and processed largely by hand to ensure the quality of the coffee - is maintained.
Colombian Coffee or Columbian Coffee* plants take about 8 weeks to germinate and develop. Then the farmers select the healthiest plants and transfer them to a nursery where they are cultivated for six more months. At this point, they are taken to a plantation and planted.
But it's only three or four years later that a tree will have its first blossoms. Then it will produce those richly colored red cherries that contain the coffee beans.
At harvesting, they are picked by people, not machines, and loaded onto donkeys or mules to be taken to the de-pulping machine, one of the few mechanized processes involved in the harvest of Colombian Coffee or Columbian Coffee*.
(Image: A farmer inspecting the beans for poor quality beans by hand.)
After the pulp is removed and sent off to be used as fertilizer, two seeds are left. They have grown together so that they look rather like a rounded football split down the middle.
The beans go into large tanks to soak for a full day then they are washed to get rid of debris such as twigs. Poor quality beans are also removed painstakingly by hand.
They are then dried and spread out on terraces where they are frequently turned for days as they dry out. The beans can't be overly dried, but the farmers don't want them to contain too much moisture, either.
What makes Colombian coffee so unique is the exacting and thorough inspection process that maintains the high quality control standards that make the coffee so popular.
Inspectors visit each farm to inspect sanitary conditions, the health of the trees and to see whether the beans have been washed properly. They inspect the beans for size, color, texture and overall quality.
The inspector removes the husk and parchment of a Columbian coffee bean chosen at random then cuts into it with a knife to see if it's been dried correctly. If it is too dry, it will split quickly.
The beans are inspected again at the market by random sampling for aroma, color, size, moisture and texture. Only the best are sold for export. They're then put in machines that remove the husk and skin and sorted by size, shape and weight.
The resulting beans are olive green, put into bags and inspected once more before being sealed. A sample is roasted, ground and tasted as a brewed cup of coffee. Even at this stage, a crop can be rejected for export.
Colombia takes great pride in its coffee crop and has a very exacting process for producing it. Most farmers harvest their crop manually, and only one machine, the de-pulping machine, is used.
The rest of the work is done by hand. Even transporting the coffee berries from the orchards to the processing area is done by human and animal labor.
The meticulous inspection process insures that the Colombian coffee you buy will be the very best the country has to offer, processed in sanitary conditions and picked through to include only the finest beans for your morning cup of coffee.
In September 2007, the EU recognized its quality, thorough inspections, and distinctive taste by recognizing Colombian Coffee or Columbian Coffee* as a 'Protected Designation of Origin'.
This is the secret to the wonderful, rich flavor of Colombian Coffee or Columbian Coffee*! So next time you're drinking that cup of Colombian coffee or waiting for your order, be thankful that the Coffee Farmers of Colombia worked so hard to create, maintain and provide you with an exquisite cup of coffee.*Typographical Note A kind reader pointed out that the name of the country is actually Republic of Colombia (see Wikipedia's entry on Colombia, however, many usages of the term to denote Colombian Coffee are spelled as Columbian. This is likely due to the anglicisation of the name from which the country derives its name: Christopher Columbus or Christoffa Corombo. Portuguese switches the 'r' to 'l', as does Spanish. This situation was not helped by the lack of a unified English spelling system at the time. It's also worth noting here that the term 'Scotch' used to apply to people or things from Scotland. Now it solely refers to a whiskey produced in Scotland. The modern term would be Scottish or Scots. One hypothesis is that a similar phenomenon is happening with the term Columbian, that it may eventually solely refer to coffee.