Colombia

Coffee first came to Colombia in 1808 when clergymen from the French Antilles brought trees via Venezuela. Today, Colombia is the 3rd biggest coffee producing country in the world, with 12 million (60KG) bags annually. Coffee is so important to the economy that all cars entering the country must be sprayed, so not to introduce new diseases to the plants. Colombia is the worlds largest exporter of washed Arabica beans (very little Robusta is grown here). The coffee producing regions are positioned among the foothills of the Andes, where the conditions are hot and humid. Colombia has three secondary mountain ranges running North/South. They are called Western, Central and Eastern 'Cordillera' and these are where coffee is grown. Colombia is lucky to have both an Atlantic and Pacific port (the only South American country to do so). This helps to keep transport costs down. The mountainous terrain provides a wide range of micro-climates, meaning harvesting can occur almost all year round. Unlike Brazil, Colombia has no concern over potential frost damage wiping out entire farms. Yields have risen considerably since the 1960s but quality is always the priority for the industry which is regulated by the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros (FNC). Farmers can either sell their entire crop to the FNC at the official minimum price, or sell to exporters who may offer a higher price. Colombia was a late arrival to the Speciality Coffee scene. Many farms now export directly through speciality export groups, enabling roasters and consumers to sample the wide range of coffees available. Colombia also has a Cup of Excellence programme.

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