Pretty much everyone, even those who are not coffee drinkers, knows who Jaun Valdez is. Add to that the slogan “100% Pure Colombian coffee” and you have the perfect example of branding a product. All that marketing is designed to fuel sales in the “grocery store coffee” market but don’t be fooled by the supermarket coffee blends. 100% Pure Colombian coffee can also be a very god cup of gourmet coffee.
Colombia is the second largest producer of coffee in the world. (Brazilian coffees are number one) With coffee production on such a large scale, the quality of Colombian coffee exports varies greatly. While there are a number of very good gourmet Colombian coffees on the market, their image has been somewhat marred by the large numbers average quality Colombian coffee beans being sold on the market.
The Colombian coffee market has been built up around a system of smaller coffee farms who wet-process the coffee beans on the farm or at a nearby large coffee plantation. The beans are then delivered to a drop off point where it eventually ends up at a coffee mill operated by the government. The coffee beans are then graded before being used for “100% Pure Colombian coffee” production. Unfortunately, this system often sees the higher quality coffee beans (due to better wet-processing) of large Colombian coffee plantations being mixed with those of smaller Colombian coffee farms (who do their own less-sophisticated wet-processing).
Operating more or less outside of the government run Colombian coffee production, many private Colombian coffee exporters offer excellent gourmet and specialty coffees. These gourmet coffee exporters usually have special deals with particular Colombian coffee bean farms who often implore traditional or “family secret” techniques in order to produce a special flavor (usually berries). The best way to determine if you are really getting a gourmet Colombian coffee is to look on the label for regional name or market name. Most non-gourmet Colombian coffees are identified by the grade of the coffee beans used to make it.
Colombian coffee at its best is, like Costa Rica coffee, a real classic. No quality is extreme. It has a medium body and a strong but overpowering acidity. In general, gourmet Colombian coffee is strong and the fruit undertones make a quite lively. When looking for the gourmet Colombian coffees with the most character and distinction, you should keep an eye out for Colombian coffee exports from the southwestern part of the country (in particular of the areas of Narino, Cauca (usually referred to as Popoyan), and Southern Huila).