Colombian Coffee Facts

When you are looking for reliably great Arabica coffee the best choice, bar none, is coffee from Colombia. While there are many places in the world that grow and export great coffee Colombia grows great Arabica coffee across a wider region in the Western Andes than any other growing region in the world. The coffee culture, volcanic soil, and perfect coffee-growing climate all contribute to reliably excellent coffee region after region, farm after farm, bag after bag and cup after cup.

Coffee from Colombia

When you purchase coffee in a store in the USA, Great Britain, anywhere in Europe, Australia, or Japan it is easy check to see that the coffee is from Colombia. Just look for Juan Valdez! Juan Valdez is a fictional character used by the Colombian Coffee Growers’ Federation to guarantee that a bag of coffee is 100% Colombian. By the way, within Colombia Juan Valdez is also a brand of coffee and a string of excellent coffee shops featuring coffees from the various regions of the coffee growing district, the Eje Cafetero.
If you are interested in checking out Colombian coffee shipped directly from Colombia, contact us at Buy Organic Coffee via email, admin@buyorganiccoffee.org.

Organic Coffee from Colombia

The gold standard for organic coffee certification is the US Department of Agriculture. You can get USDA certified coffee from Colombia as well as organic coffee certified by the likes of the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ. UTZ promotes good agricultural practices and environmental protection as well as safe and healthy working conditions plus the abolishment of child labor. In addition they help growers promote their products. Rainforest Alliance Certification is part of a broader sustainable agriculture program that includes coffee, bananas, cocoa, oranges, cut flowers, ferns, and tea. Like UTZ, Rainforest Alliance helps growers promote their products.

Not All Organic Coffee from Colombia is Certified

A practical issue for Colombian coffee farmers is the cost of becoming certified and maintaining certification as an organic coffee producer. The coffee farmer pays to have someone come in and verify that they do not use chemicals, have measures to separate organic from non-organic coffee, and follow all of the sustainable agricultural practices that go with organic coffee farming. If they cannot get a higher price for their product by being certified many coffee farmers forego certification even though they follow all of the right steps. At Buy Organic Coffee we deal with many coffee farmers who are organic in everything but name.

Where Is Coffee Grown in Colombia?

Although coffee is grown in every part of Colombia the vast majority of coffee production comes from the departments of Caldas, Antioquia, Risaralda, Tolima, and Huila. These jurisdictions are all in the Western Andes ranging from 3,000 feet to 8,000 (or higher) in altitude. The region is bounded on the East by a string of more than two dozen volcanos of which about half are currently active.

Colombian Coffee Facts - Northern Part of Volcanic Front

Northern Part of Colombian Volcanic Front

Number 19 on the map is Nevado del Ruiz, 15,500 feet and still active. The peak is visible from Manizales.

Fresh Coffee from Colombia Nevado del Ruiz

Nevado del Ruiz Volcano Visible from Downtown Manizales, Colombia

Because coffee does best between three and seven thousand feet in the topics in regions with lots of rain and lots of cloud cover the departments of Caldas, Antioquia, Risaralda, Quindio, Tolima, Huila, and the Eastern elevations of the Valle de Cauca Colombia

Colombian Coffee Facts – PDF

Colombian Coffee Facts – Slideshare Version


Colombian Organic Coffee Brands

Colombian coffee is widely acclaimed to some of the best coffee in the world. But what about Colombian organic coffee brands and Colombian coffee brands for standard Colombian Arabica coffee? Any coffee grown in Colombia qualifies for Juan Valdez designation, meaning that the Colombian Coffee Growers Association certifies it as 100% Colombian. Coffee from Colombia is good and healthy organic coffee from Colombia is excellent. Think of some of the best organic coffee in the world and think of Juan Valdez, certified and Colombian, organic coffee from the Colombian Cafetero.

Juan Valdez Colombian Coffee

The Juan Valdez trade name came from the Colombian Coffee Growers Association more than half a century ago. It is meant to give the buyer assurance that the coffee they purchase is 100% Colombian. Although there is a popular Juan Valdez coffee house chain in Colombia the name Juan Valdez is simply meant to guarantee 100% Colombian content. Within Colombia Juan Valdez only has to do with the coffee house chain as regular Arabica and organic coffee in Colombia is grown in Colombia.

Colombian Organic Coffee Brands and Retail Prices in Colombia
Brand

Retail/Pesos

Retail Quantity

Retail in Dollars

Café Quindio Organico

24,300

340 grams

$6.75

Juan Valdez Gourmet Selection

20,300

282 grams

$5.64

Mesa de Los Santos

40,000

454 grams

$11.11

Oma Export Coffee Organic

20,100

250 grams

$5.58

This table lists Colombian organic coffee brands available in the Colombian Cafetero. Prices are retail in Colombian Pesos and the US dollar equivalents are based on the late 2021 exchange rate of around 3,600 Colombian Pesos to the US dollar. Purchasing Juan Valdez organic coffee, that is to say Colombian organic coffee brands, is easy in Colombia and is easy if it has been exported from Colombia. However, getting Colombian organic coffee brands sent from Colombia can be difficult unless you have help from someone who is already in Colombia.

Obtaining Colombian Organic Coffee Brands from Colombia

Two things have made it easier to get coffee from Colombia. The more-than-half-century civil war is largely over. And three years ago the government made it easier for small producers to export their coffee. In our recent article about getting fresh coffee from Colombia we offered to send local coffee brands purchased retail in Colombia to the USA via normal mail. The limit is 2 kg before you need an export license to do this.

If you are visiting Colombia and want to bring coffee back with you, that is still possible. Thus, if you are going to fly out of Manizales, Pereira, Medellin, Cali, or Bogotá expect to have your bags searched for drugs as a large drug-sniffing police dog sits by. The officer will pin prick any bags of coffee that you are carrying and test with a mechanical “sniffer” if not the large pooch at his side. If you decide that you would like to forego this experience and mail your coffee back home you will have to abide by the 2 kg per shipment rule.

Many Colombian Organic Coffee Brands are grown in the shadow of the tallest volcano in Colombia.

Nevado del Huila – Tallest Volcano in Colombia

Colombian Organic Coffee Brands – PDF

Colombian Organic Coffee Brands – Slideshare Version

Gene Café CBR 1200

I love freshly roasted coffee and decided to give home roasting a try. To save money I went the popcorn popper route. My results were not especially good (as in really bad). But the clincher was when the coffee caught fire in the popper. So, I decided to get a real home coffee roaster with a decent capacity. I ended up looking at the new Gene Café CBR 1200. Here is what I found out.

What You Should Consider before Buying the Gene Café CBR 1200

When you first roast coffee at home it can be fun, even if the Arabica coffee directly from Colombia does not turn out that well. But, the newness of coffee roasting will wear off. And then you will want to have a roaster that is easy to operate, simple to maintain, and one that does a great job roasting coffee.

Home coffee roasters are for home use. Sounds a little simple but the point is that you are probably not a coffee house employee. You do not have experience roasting coffee every work day for years. You need a home coffee roaster that you as a novice can use to make good roasted coffee!

Home coffee roasters use a fair amount of electricity and, like the Gene Café CBR 1200, many require a 220 volt electric outlet. So, you may need to call the electrician before you can plug in your new coffee roaster!

You can roast a batch of coffee with the new Gene Café roaster in half an hour. Then add time for the beans to cool. This roaster is easy to operate but you do have to periodically clean and maintain it or there will be problems like smoke and fire! You may end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a home coffee roaster. Make sure that your love of freshly roasted coffee is such that you are willing to take the time to do the roasting.

The Gene Cafe CBR 1200 small batch coffee roaster provides an even and reliable roast with automatic roasting.

Gene Cafe CBR 1200

Gene Café CBR 1200

The Gene Cafe CBR 1200/1 kg is a great small batch coffee roaster for either home or commercial use. Gene Cafe has been making a smaller model for several years. The increase in roast size up to a kilogram makes this coffee roaster a better choice for small volume commercial use than its older brother.

The CBR 1200 uses an innovative off-axis rotation method combined with hot forced air heating. It will very evenly roast up to two pounds of green coffee beans in half an hour. A hopper is used for adding green coffee beans to the preheated roasting chamber. And roasted coffee beans are automatically released into a cooling chamber beneath the roaster. This model also has a manual override feature.

I really like the clear Pyrex roasting chamber which lets me see the coffee as it roasts. And I like its quiet operation. This makes it easier to hear the first crack and when I want a darker roast, the second crack. It has an easy to empty and easy to clean chaff collector as well.

Pros

  • Off axis rotation of roasting chamber for very even roasting
  • Pyrex roasting chamber for easy viewing of coffee while it roasts
  • Automatic roasting once time and temperature are set
  • Automatic release of roasted coffee to cooling chamber

Cons

  • Chaff collector needs to be routinely emptied or starts to emit smoke
  • English instructions poorly written by Korean manufacturer
  • Must be placed close to an outside wall in order to vent excess heat

Features & Benefits

I think that this coffee roaster is nicely designed for use both by a pro and by a beginner. Like with any new appliance, you should read the directions. And you should consider the first couple of roasting sessions to be practice runs. Here are my thoughts on the various features of the CBR 1200.

Feeding Beans from the Hopper to the Roasting Chamber

This roaster has a hopper for feeding green coffee beans into the pre-heated roasting chamber. To me it seemed a little complicated at first but it is a nice feature.

  • After pre-heating the roasting chamber, open the safety cover and rotate the hopper down over opening.
  • Then you need to press the red control knob until you see the word “insert.”
  • Set the time and roasting temperature.
  • Then press the red knob like you would a button until you see the word “insert.”
  • Now is when you rotate the little switch to the right in order to insert the beans.
The Gene Cafe CBR 1200 has a hopper for feeding beans into the roasting chamber. Turn the lever to the right to feed the beans.

Gene Cafe CBR 1200 Hopper and Hopper Lever

Finally, lift up the hopper and rotate in back in place over the roaster housing. Close the safety cover. With the time and temperature set, press the red button again until you hear a beep and roasting starts.

Once you have done this a time or two it will be easy even though at first there seem to be a lot of steps!

Pyrex Heating Chamber

The heat resistant Pyrex glass for the heating chamber is a useful feature. You get to see the beans roasting, which is always fun. But, more to the point, seeing the process helps you get the exact roast that you want. I like it.

Remember that this chamber gets very hot. Always have oven mitts available when you touch or handle the roasting chamber.

Three Dimensional Off Axis Mixing

There is nothing you have to do about this innovative feature. It is just how the roaster chamber rotates and tilts to constantly mix the beans to guarantee an even roast every time.

Automatic and Manual for both Roasting and Cooling

For a person who is new to the world of home roasting, the automatic features of the Gene Café CBR 1200 are a good idea. The roaster can be completely automatic or you can override either roasting or cooling or both. What I think works the best is to learn the settings you need for the roast that you want. Then only override when you think there is a problem. But, if you are totally new to the world of home roasting, automatic will give you a decent roast as your learn the ropes.

When you find exactly the right time and temperature for the roast you want, you simply repeat the process. The CBR 1200 remembers the time and temperature of the last roast. A better idea is to write down the times and temperatures you have used for various roasts.

Chaff Collector

The roaster removes chaff as it roasts but the chaff can accumulate in the collector and start to smoke or even catch fire. Empty and clean the chaff collector every five batches. This is not a big deal but could become a problem if you neglect it! There is a reason that the safety instructions that come with the roaster state that you should have a fire extinguisher available next to the roaster!

Cyclone Duct

Coffee roasters generate a lot of heat and this one is no different. If you are set up in a small space you will need to exhaust the hot air using the cyclone duct. Unfortunately the cyclone duct is rather short. You should not add an extension because chaff will build up in a long duct. So, you need to put this roaster right next to an outside wall to vent the heat.

The Cyclone Duct carries heat and smoke away from the Gene Cafe CBR 1200 Coffee Roaster

Gene Cafe CBR 1200 Cyclone Duct

For me this is a real downside for a home coffee roaster. Making holes in the walls of your home to exhaust the heat seems a little excessive.

The other issue in this regard is the power supply.

Korean power outlets are 220 volts and that is what the CBR 1200 needs. Having to call the electrician to rewire your kitchen is another strike against this roaster.

What Others Are Saying about the CBR 1200

The thing we see repeated in the coffee forums is that people are shocked at the price of the Gene Café CBR 1200 and give it big “thumbs down.”

From Dave in Great Britain:

There is something that just doesn’t add up. A 1kg machine costs 4,000 pounds?
The same machine but a smaller version that roasts 250-300 grams or 1/4 kg, cost 329 pounds. So buying four of these machines for 1300 pounds will give you a 1kg yield and you’re still ahead of about 2700 quid.
Does the Gene Cafe company take people for idiots?

Bean & Gone says:

I’ve been looking for a bigger roaster and liked the look of this as I already have a gene café, but the prices that I have been given as an estimate are just short of £4000. Not sure how accurate that is but it’s the same or similar to the toper cafemino 1Kg roaster.

So, What Are Some Alternatives to the Gene Café CBR 1200

This is a decent coffee roaster. It may be a bit much for home use but certainly would function well in a small coffee shop. But, this coffee roaster costs nearly $6,000 plus tax!
What other roasters can you get for that price? And, more to the point, what similar roasters are out there for a better price?

BEHMOR 1600 Plus: $369

This is a standard drum roaster as opposed to the off axis setup with the CBR 1200. It can roast up to a pound per batch which is half the CBR 1200 capacity. It is similar to the CBR 1200 in that it features pre-programmed roast profiles or can be totally manual. It has technology to suppress smoke without the need to vent to the outside. Unlike the CBR 1200 this is strictly a home coffee roaster without much use in a commercial setting.

But, the biggest difference is that the Behmor 1600 Plus is substantially easier on the pocketbook at $369 versus $6,000.

  • Roasting Capacity: CRB 1200-2 pounds, Behmor 1600 Plus-1 pound
  • Programmable or Manual Operation: Both roasters can go either way
  • Dealing with Smoke: CBR 1200 needs to vent through an outside wall, Behmor 1600 Plus has internal smoke suppression technology
  • Home Versus Commercial Use: CBR 1200-both home and commercial, Behmor 1600 Plus-strictly a home coffee roaster
  • Price: Huge difference with CRB 1200=$6,000 and Behmor 1600 Plus=$369

Take a look here if you are interested in checking out the Behmor 1600 Plus.

QUEST M3: $1,400

This coffee roaster is a miniature of a standard coffee shop roaster. It is meant for sample roasting with a maximum roast capacity of 200 grams (0.44 pound) as opposed to two pounds for the Gene Café CBR 1200. Unlike the CBR 1200, it is a completely manual machine with no advanced electronics and no programmed settings. And, unlike the CBR 1200, if you are going to roast several batches you leave it turned on as repeatedly heating up and cooling off is hard on the roaster. The Quest M3 is more suited for a professional than for someone who wants to start roasting at home. But, it costs about $4,600 less than the CBR 1200.

  • Roasting Capacity: CRB 1200-2 pounds, Quest M3-0.4 pound
  • Programmable or Manual Operation: CBR 1200 is both while Quest M3 is manual only
  • Chaff Collector: Both roasters have one and both need to routinely cleaned to prevent a fire
  • Home Versus Commercial Use: CBR 1200-both home and commercial, Quest M3-roast size is suitable for home use or for sample roasts in a commercial setting
  • Price: Big price difference with CRB 1200=$6,000 and Quest M3=$1,400

If you want to check out the Quest M3, take a look at it on the Coffee Shrub website.

HOTTOP KN-8828B DIGITAL DRUM ROASTER: $1,100

This roaster is similar to the Gene Café CBR 1200 in that it is computer controlled so you can set up and repeat favorite roasting profiles. Its capacity is smaller than the CBR 1200 as it will roast at most 2/3 pound at a time. It also has a built-in smoke suppression system unlike the CBR 1200 which needs to vent to the outside or be located in a very open space.  And, like the CBR 1200, the HOTTOP has a window so you can watch your coffee as it roasts. If price is the main issue, this roaster sells for $4,900 less than the CBR 1200.

  • Roasting Capacity: CRB 1200-2 pounds, HOTTOP KN-8828B DIGITAL-2/3 pound
  • Programmable or Manual Operation: Both roasters function both ways
  • Smoke Suppression: The HOTTOP KN-8828B DIGITAL has an internal smoke suppression system and the CBR 1200 does not
  • Home Versus Commercial Use: CBR 1200-both home and commercial, HOTTOP KN-8828B DIGITAL is a home roaster
  • Price: Substantial difference with CRB 1200=$6,000 and HOTTOP KN-8828B DIGITAL =$1,100

Take a look at the HOTTOP KN-8828B DIGITAL on Roastmasters.com.

For Small Commercial Roasting

If you are considering the Gene Café CRB 1200 for commercial use, consider also the Artisan 3-e. This commercial coffee roaster has a 3 pound maximum roast size compared to 2 pounds for the CBR. It is a fluid bed coffee roaster unlike the off axis drum roaster in a CBR 1200. Like the Gene Café CBR 1200 it has an attachment for exhausting heat and smoke. But, you need to buy your exhaust blower separately for the Artisan 3-e. And, the Artisan 3-e is much less expensive than the CBR 1200 at $3,300 versus $6,000.

  • Roasting Capacity: CRB 1200-2 pounds, Artisan 3-e=3 pounds
  • Roasting technology: CBR 1200-off axis rotating Pyrex chamber, Artisan 3-e fluid bed roaster
  • Exhausting heat and smoke: Both roasters require that you exhaust to an outside wall but with the Artisan 3-e you need to buy your blower separately
  • Home Versus Commercial Use: CBR 1200-both home and commercial, Artisan 3-e is a high capacity commercial roaster capable of roasting 18 pounds an hour
  • Price: Big difference with CRB 1200=$6,000 and Artisan 3-e =$3,350

If you would like to know more about this roaster, take a look at it on the Coffee Crafters website.

Conclusion

If you want to roast coffee at home and would like an automated system, the Gene Café CBR 1200 can do the job. It is relatively easy to set up, use and maintain. And, with the automatic settings you can set up profiles to reliably get the roast you like every time. This roaster needs to go in a large open area or be vented to the outside. And, it requires a 220 volt outlet.

The big drawback to this coffee roaster is the price. You can get a roaster with comparable features for thousands of dollars less.

Nevertheless, if you would like to learn more, visit the Gene Café website for more  for more information.

Gene Cafe CBR 1200 – Slideshare Version

Gene Café CBR 1200 – PDF

Single Origin Coffee from Colombia

Colombia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of high-quality Arabica coffee in the world. Coffee from Colombia finds its way into virtually every country. But, what if you are interested in single origin coffee from Colombia? There are growers throughout the departments of Caldas, Tolima, Risaralda, Quindío, and Huila who grow specific coffee varieties. These unique high-quality coffees are sometimes certified as organic coffee and almost all of them are organic in fact even when not certified. If you need single origin coffee from Colombia, contact Buy Organic Coffee by sending an email to admin@buyorganiccoffee.org.

What Is Single Origin Coffee?

Single origin means that all of the coffee beans that went into your cup of coffee came from the same place. Sometimes “single origin” means it all came from the same country or region within a country. If you buy coffee with Juan Valdez on the label it is 100% Colombian coffee and is “single origin” from Colombia. And, you can buy coffee from Tolima, Huila, or the historic heart of the Colombian coffee-growing region, Caldas.

By narrowing down the region you are more likely find to coffee that is all grown in a similar climate, type of soil, and with similar coffee-growing methods. The gold standard for single origin coffee is coffee that is all from the same coffee farm or, from the same local coffee cooperative that services a small sub-region.

Many times the coffee farms that provide single origin coffee can only provide a ton or two of their excellent coffee but the coop can help multiply that supply by providing coffee from several farms with similar growing conditions and the same coffee varieties. For example, the pink bourbon coffee that we supply comes from Huila which is the only region in Colombia where this variety can be found in any quantity.

Finding Single Origin Coffee

There are two issues when you want to find single origin coffee. One is that not all coffee farmers can provide unique coffee varieties. Much of the coffee in Colombia, for example, is a mix of Arabica varieties and comes to the standard of “usual good quality” or UGQ. It is probably excelso which means a larger bean size and higher, export quality. You may need to go to the region in question to talk to the local coffee cooperatives or individual coffee farmers to find out what varieties they grow and how carefully they preserve their unique coffee varieties.

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee - Nevado del Huila
Nevado del Huila – Tallest Volcano in Colombia

And, in many regions of the tropics around the globe finding great single source coffee involves going to the individual countries and trekking throughout the mountains to find coffee farmers. In our case, Buy Organic Coffee has a presence in Manizales, Colombia and the closest coffee cooperatives are in the city and within twenty to thirty miles of our shop. We also know coffee growers and processors throughout the coffee growing region of Colombia and routinely deal with growers as far away as the southern reaches of the Department of Huila in the shade of the tallest volcano in Colombia, Nevado del Huila (17,500 feet) as opposed to Caldas where the tallest, still-active volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, is only 15,500 feet tall.

Single Origin Coffee from Colombia - Nevado del Ruiz
Nevado del Ruiz – Tallest Volcano if Department of Caldas, Colombia

Why Is the Origin of Coffee Important?

Bean origin matters. The type of soil (usually volcanic), climate (high mountain, lots of rain and overcast), production and process methods handed down through families for generations, and the unique varieties all give you unique flavor, aroma, and aftertaste. If you are interested in true artisanal coffee and especially wholesale artisanal coffee from Colombia, contact us at Buy Organic Coffee by sending an email to admin@buyorganiccoffee.org. As we commonly mention, there are lots of great coffees in the world. The advantage of coffee from Colombia is that you get a lot more great Arabica coffee from this region than from anywhere else. And, if you are interested in single origin coffee, we can find a source for you right from the historic heart of the Colombian coffee growing region, Caldas, or from anywhere else in the coffee growing axis (Eje Cafetero).

Pink Bourbon Coffee Finca La Paula
Pink Bourbon Coffee, Finca La Paula, Huila, Colombia

Single Origin Coffee from Colombia – PDF

Coffee Varieties Grown in Colombia

When coffee growers in Colombia sell their coffee harvest, the price is based on the New York commodity price, the USD to COP exchange rate, and a premium for coffee grown in Colombia. Colombia is the world’s biggest producer of Arabica coffee. Virtually no Robusta is grown in Colombia! The soil, weather conditions, coffee-growing culture, and excellent coffee varieties grown in Colombia all contribute to Colombia producing the largest amounts of the finest coffee in the world.

Coffee Varietals

The taste, aroma, and overall quality of coffee varies from country to country, climate to climate, region to region and coffee farm to coffee farm. Local conditions are important when it comes to coffee quality and so are the coffee varieties that the coffee farmer plants and nurtures. The coffee varieties grown in Colombia are all Arabica, ranging from old, pure, Arabica strains typically grown at the higher altitudes like 6,000 to 8,000 feet and leaf rust-resistant strains that do better at lower altitudes like 3,000 to 4,000 feet.

Coffee Varieties Grown in Colombia

Typica

Typica is the old variety from which most modern varieties were derived. Typica dates back to when coffee was taken from Ethiopia and Yemen to plant throughout the world. Typica is a taller coffee plant that produces beans of excellent quality but a lower-than-average harvest volume.

Bourbon

Bourbon is the other old coffee variety, named for the island in the Indian Ocean where Dutch traders first planted it. Bourbon produces about a fourth more yield than Typica and also has an excellent, sweet, fruity, slightly acidic taste profile. As this variety spread across the world, mutations resulted in three standard sub-varieties, red, yellow, and orange Bourbon. We have written about a cross-bred sub variety, Pink Bourbon, which is a cross between yellow and red Bourbon. Pink Bourbon gives the farmer more coffee per plant and greater resistance to leaf rust.

Caturra

Caturra is a “transplant” that occurred by natural mutation from Red Bourbon around the town of Caturra, Brazil. It is significantly more resistant to leaf rust, a shorter plant with higher yield, commonly planted in lower altitude coffee farms (2,000 feet to 5,000 feet). This coffee has a medium to low body, slight acidity, and with less sweetness than Bourbon. Because of the issues that Colombia had with leaf rust a decade ago, much of the “lower” coffee growing regions were replanted with Caturra. The same is true in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Caturra and Typica Coffee Plants Side by Side
Caturra and Typica Coffee Plants Side by Side

Castillo

Castillo was developed by Cenicafe which is the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation research arm in 2005. Because of leaf rust issues, Cenicafe used a Timor hybrid (leaf rust resistant) and Caturra (somewhat resistant to leaf rust) to produce Castillo. They crossed male Caturra with the female Timor hybrid. This new variety has a high yield, can be grown at both higher and lower altitudes and produces an excellent cup of coffee. Castillo Tambo is a sub variety of Castillo developed by Cenicafe specifically for the departments of Cauca, Nariño, Tolima, Huila, and the Cauca River Valley. Castillo has a citric acidity, is smooth, and has a pleasing aroma.

Colombia

This variety is, like Castillo, a cross between a Timor hybrid and Caturra. It was responsible for helping save Colombia’s coffee industry in the 1980s.Besides being leaf rust resistant, Colombia has a high yield and is a first choice for many small coffee farms. Colombia is full-bodied, sweet, and bright with hints of chocolate and cherry. It was also used as a base for sub varieties of Tabi and Castillo.

Tabi

Tabi is the newest variety to be released by Cenicafe. They crossed Typica, Bourbon, and a Timor hybrid to get a coffee that is typically planted in the higher altitudes like in Caldas, Tolima, and Huila. It produces a tall plant with long branches with larger fruit and coffee beans. Tabi is both leaf rust resistant and an excellent coffee. The name comes from the word for good in the Guambiano dilect (an indigenous tribe in Colombia).

At Buy Organic Coffee we are pleased to be able to provide access to any and all Colombian coffee varieties, both in bulk and artisanal coffees from small, local producers and coffee farms. Contact us at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org for more information.

Coffee Varieties Grown in Colombia – PDF

Wholesale Artisanal Coffee from Colombia

Colombia is the largest producer and exporter of high-quality Arabica coffee in the world. Wholesale coffee from Colombia finds its way into virtually every country. But, what if you are interested in single origin, wholesale artisanal coffee from Colombia? There are individual growers on individual coffee farms in the departments of Caldas, Risaralda, Tolima, Huila, and Quindío who grow specific coffee varieties. These coffees are of extremely high quality, some are certified as organic coffee, and most are organic in everything but name.

What Is Artisanal Coffee?

Single origin coffee beans are what make artisanal coffee unique. Coffee growers limit their production to specific, high-quality coffee varieties. When you drink wholesale artisanal coffee produced on one of these farms, you will enjoy coffee grown in specific soil conditions and at a specific altitude range. Artisanal coffee growers specialize in unique coffee varieties and follow sustainable agricultural practices. They may or may not have bothered to have someone like Bio Latina certify their crops for USDA certification. When you first brew an artisanal coffee, go with a light roast. Do not add milk, cream, or sugar. Taste the black coffee and you will be able to enjoy distinctive flavor profiles that come from specific growing conditions and unique coffee varieties.

Pink Bourbon Coffee Finca La Paula
Pink Bourbon Coffee – Finca La Paula – Huila, Colombia

Wholesale Artisanal Coffee from Colombia – Buy Organic Coffee

At Buy Organic Coffee, from our location in Manizales, Colombia, we deal directly with individual coffee farmers and small processors to give you access to wholesale artisanal coffee from Colombia. Artisanal coffee commands a higher price than UGQ (usual good quality) Colombian Arabica coffee. This is understandable as the growers frequently sacrifice production volume in order to obtain maximum quality. And, because artisanal coffee is relatively rare, it naturally commands a higher price. However, most of the price markup that a coffee shop in the USA will pay comes from “middlemen” along the supply chain.

Fresh Coffee from Colombia

Another issue with getting artisanal coffee is that your supplier might be buying the coffee, warehousing it, and selling when it gets the best price. Unfortunately, the quality of your artisanal coffee will suffer the longer it is stored. At Buy Organic Coffee we work directly with coffee growers, local processors, and buyers across the globe. We will shorten your supply chain for getting any fresh coffee from Colombia and especially artisanal coffee from this region. When you source your artisanal coffee from Colombia through Buy Organic Coffee you get a better price, guaranteed quality, and personalized service.

How to Roast Artisanal Coffee

Whether you roast your own coffee at home or roast commercially for your coffee shop, use a light roast for artisanal coffee. This will preserve the distinct flavors and aroma that are unique to the altitude, soil conditions, amount of rainfall, and specific coffee variety. Artisanal coffee beans bring you the flavors and characteristics of the soil in which your coffee was grown and these can be lost in a caramelized dark roast.

Contact Buy Organic Coffee in Manizales by sending an email to admin@buyorganiccoffee.org.

Wholesale Artisanal Coffee from Colombia – Slideshare Version

Wholesale Artisanal Coffee from Colombia – PDF

Coffee from Colombia

If you are looking for Arabica coffee, high quality coffee, and lots of it, look for coffee from Colombia. Colombia is the third largest coffee producer and exporter in the world behind Vietnam and Brazil. However, Colombia grows and exports only Arabica coffee and not Robusta. Colombia ranks number one in production and export of the highest-quality Arabica coffee. If, before reading further, you would like to purchase coffee directly from Colombia, send us an email at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org. Buy Organic Coffee works with local producers and processors in the Manizales, Colombia region which is the heart of the Colombian coffee-growing district.

Colombian Coffee History

Coffee growing in Colombia goes back to Spanish Colonial times. A Jesuit priest, José Gumilla first wrote about coffee growing in Colombia in the 1730s. The first record of commercial production was in 1808. The current coffee growing region was only settled in the middle of the 19th century with the founding of Manizales in the department of Caldas. Today the greatest production of Arabica coffee in Colombia takes place in the Western mountains (Andes) of Colombia ranging from Caldas North to the Southern part of Antioquia, West and South to Risaralda, Quindío, and Tolima, and then farther South to high mountains of Huila where Buy Organic Coffee sources its high-quality Pink Bourbon coffee. The historic center of Arabica coffee production is Manizales and is where we, Buy Organic Coffee, your source for ordering coffee from Colombia are located. (Order by emailing us at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org.)

Coffee from Colombia - Colombian Departments

Coffee from Colombia – Colombian Departments

How Do You Get Fresh Coffee from Colombia?

Colombia exports the most Arabica coffee of any country in the world. Thus, you can find Colombian coffee everywhere. However, when millions of tons of coffee are exported they go to warehouses where the coffee sits until it is sold to roasters as part of the supply chain that brings coffee to your favorite coffee shop or to your grocery store. If you see the name Juan Valdez on the label that means your coffee is 100% from Colombia. Juan is a fictional character dreamt up decades ago to promote coffee from Colombia and is well-known along with his burro that is carrying large sacks of coffee. The problem with getting fresh coffee is that after your coffee from Colombia goes down the hill with Juan from the coffee farm and is processed at the local “trilladora” to remove the husk, it may sit for a long time before it is processed during which time it will lose freshness.
Contact Buy Organic Coffee by emailing us at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org to get coffee directly from Colombia that was not sitting for years in a warehouse. Contact us for coffee that is, at the longest, from the most recent harvest (twice a year in Colombia).

If you are visiting Manizales or anywhere in Colombia, you can purchase high-quality Arabica coffee in a grocery store. The easiest way to get organic coffee is to visit a Juan Valdez coffee shop and purchase a bag or two. You can take the coffee back home with you in your suitcase but don’t be surprised when the authorities at the airport in Bogota pin prick your bags of coffee and pass them in front of a mechanical drug sniffer or a drug-sniffing dog. (You don’t want the dog to sit down which is what it does when it recognizes cocaine or marijuana!)

If you would like us to send you a four-pack of grocery store coffee from Colombia by mail, send us an email to admin@buyorganiccoffee.org.

Coffee Direct from Colombia

Our price for this sample pack is $30 for the coffee and $30 for mailing to anywhere in the USA.

Coffee from Colombia – Slideshare Version

Coffee from Colombia – PDF

How to Buy Great Fresh Coffee

Learn how to buy great fresh coffee and every morning cup of Java will be a delight. To get the best and freshest coffee you need to pay attention to several things, starting with the coffee bean. Coffee is fresh when it is first harvested and processed. Green coffee beans that are properly stored (cool and dry) retain their freshness for up to three years. By comparison, roasted coffee beans retain their freshness for up to six months. In each case, the sooner after harvest (and roasting) that you purchase your coffee, the fresher it will be. Average coffee that is fresh is better than so-called gourmet coffee that sat on the shelf for months or years!

Avoid Old Warehoused Coffee

Almost a decade ago we wrote about how the government in Brazil was paying farmers to store their green coffee beans instead of flooding the market. Coffee prices were down and holding back coffee production from the market helped support prices. That was in 2012. A follow-up note is that coffee prices went up a few years later and coffee farmers in Brazil started to sell their stored coffee. Unfortunately, coffee that is six or eight years old has pretty much lost its flavor and any antioxidants of value. The same problem arises when you purchase coffee in the USA, Europe, Japan, or any other coffee-drinking region where they are not coffee producers as well. You typically do not know how long your coffee sat in the warehouse before roasting and how long it has been in the bag after roasting.

Fresh Coffee from the Source

Your best way to guarantee the freshness of your coffee is to buy it from as close to the source as possible. At Buy Organic Coffee we offer fresh coffee from Colombia. Because we work with local coffee farmers and small processors, we can provide you with fresh coffee beans, green or roasted, that are from the most recent harvest. Because Colombia harvests coffee every six months, our coffee from the source may be just off the mountain or at least within six months of harvest.

How to Buy Great Fresh Coffee - Pink Bourbon Coffee Finca La Paula

How to Buy Great Coffee (and not break the bank)

There are lots of great coffees in the world. And, there are lots of heavily-advertised coffees. Kona coffee from Hawaii, Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica, and Juan Valdez coffee from Colombia are all great coffees. Blue Mountain sells for $36 for a 16-ounce bag and Royal Kona sells for as much as $90 for a 16-ounce bag. Both of these prices are before shipping. By comparison, we provide Pink Bourbon coffee from Finca La Paula in the department of Huila in Colombia for $12 for each 500 mg (16-ounce) bag. Our guarantee is that your coffee will have been harvested no more than six months before your purchase and very commonly will have been harvested within the month.

Why Buy Great Fresh Coffee from Colombia

There are lots of great coffees in the world. The best coffees are all Arabica varieties. Unfortunately, many places that grow good coffee do not grow much of it. The place in the world where they grow the most Arabica coffee is in the mountains of Colombia. Colombian coffee history goes back more than two centuries. Not only does coffee grow in rich volcanic soil with plenty of rainfall in Colombia but the coffee-growing culture goes back generations. An excellent example is Pink Bourbon coffee which is a hybrid of red and yellow bourbon. This carefully crossbred coffee is more resistant to coffee leaf rust and has spicy-jasmine notes with a hint of caramel. Because there is so much great coffee produced in Colombia, prices for artisanal coffees are very reasonable and standard coffees are cheap compared to equally good but heavily–advertised coffees from elsewhere in the coffee belt.

How to Buy Great Fresh Coffee – Slideshare Version

How to Buy Great Fresh Coffee – PDF

All About Coffee

Coffee is a beverage brewed from the seed (bean) of the Coffea plant. More than half of all Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day. Americans average 3 cups a day and spend about $40 billion a year on their coffee. (Harvard School of Public Health)

The History of Coffee: Ethiopian Legend to Modern Genetic Testing

In Ethiopia, they tell the story of Kaldi the goat herder who saw his goats become energized by eating berries from a tree. The legend has it that Kaldi tried the same berries and experienced the same effect. He then reported this finding to the abbot of a local monastery who made a drink of the berries and thus became the first person to drink coffee. According to the legend, the berries and the drink spread from monastery to monastery, and eventually beyond Ethiopia.

Recorded history tells us that by the 1400’s coffee was grown and traded on the Arabian Peninsula and by the 1500’s people were drinking coffee in Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Persia (Iran). By the 1600’s coffee arrived in Europe where the clergy in Venice condemned the drink and asked the Pope to intervene. Pope Clement VIII tried the “bitter invention of Satan,” liked it, and gave coffee the papal seal of approval. (National Coffee Association)

Modern researchers have trekked the highland of East Africa in search of wild coffee. The genetic testing done on these wild varieties of coffee indicates that Arabica coffee originated in the Southeastern area of evergreen forests in the mountainous Sidarno and Harar provinces of Ethiopia. The same testing indicates that Arabica coffee was taken to Yemen and the Southern Arabian Peninsula and grown there as the next step in its spread around the world.  (Researchgate.net) The researchers make no mention, however, about Kaldi or his goats!

Colombian Coffee
Colombian Coffee

What about the Plants That Give Us Coffee?

Scientifically, coffee is a woody perennial evergreen dicotyledon that belongs to the Rubiaceae family. You can now forget that part. What is more important to us coffee drinkers is that there are two main coffee species, Coffea Arabica (Arabica coffee) and Coffea canephora (Robusta coffee). (CoffeeResearch.org). Robusta is more hardy, more prolific, more disease-resistant, and does not taste as good. Robusta also has more caffeine.

Arabica is less prolific, less hardy, more prone to diseases like coffee leaf rust, and has less caffeine. But Arabica tastes significantly better than Robusta, so your gourmet coffee brands are almost always Arabica.

Coffee does not survive freezing temperatures. So, all coffee is grown in the tropics (where it does not freeze) in what is called “The Bean Belt” or “Coffee Belt.” This is , between 25 degrees North latitude and 30 degrees South latitude. Arabica is grown at higher altitudes, at lower temperatures, and in richer soil. Robusta grows better at lower altitudes, at higher temperatures, and can tolerate poorer soil. (National Coffee Association).

Caturra and Arabica Coffee Plants Side by Side
Caturra and Arabica Coffee Plants Side by Side

Economics: The Money Aspects of Coffee

  • Worldwide coffee consumption is about 500 billion cups a year
  • Most coffee is consumed in economically developed nations
  • 90% of coffee is grown in developing nations
  • 25 million people make their living on coffee farms
  • The fastest growing niche in the restaurant business is coffee shops
  • Northern Europeans rank highest for who drinks the most coffee per capita
  • The USA consumes the most coffee of any nation

(Business Insider)

The Whole Process from Planting the Coffee Seed to Your Cup of Java

Yes, Coffee Starts with a Seed (the coffee bean)

To grow coffee, a coffee farmer plants the beans (seeds) in moist and shaded soil. This is typically done in a nursery where the seedlings are protected from bright sunlight and watered often. When the plants are strong enough, they are planted in the field. Farmers do this in the rainy season to let the coffee plant establish its root structure before the soil dries out.

Waiting and Then Picking Coffee

When the coffee farmer plants coffee, he needs to wait for the plant to mature before he can get a coffee crop. Coffee takes three to four years to mature and produce fruit, the coffee cherry. Coffee is ready to pick when the cherry is a deep and bright red. And, when the coffee cherry is ripe, there is also a distinctive odor in the field, another indication that the time is right to bring in the coffee crop.  In most coffee growing regions, there is one harvest a year. However, in some countries like Colombia, Arabica coffee has a primary and a secondary harvest each year.

The large and flat coffee fields in Brazil are commonly strip picked by machine. In mountainous regions at altitudes of 3,000 feet to 7,000 feet, coffee pickers climb up and down the slopes picking by hand. A hand picker can also strip the plant of all of its cherries or selectively pick just the ripest cherries. Selective picking is used for high-quality Arabica coffees and requires that the picker return every week to ten days to pick again. A picker can bring in between 100 and 200 pounds of cherries a day. After processing this is between 20 and 40 pounds of coffee.

Soaking and Raking the Coffee: Processing and Drying

The coffee farmer needs to process his picked coffee quickly. Otherwise, it starts to spoil. A few bad beans, called “stinkers” can ruin a batch of coffee. There are two ways to process coffee, dry and wet.

Coffee Drying in the Sun
Coffee Drying in the Sun

Dry Coffee Processing: Sunlight, Raking, and Time

Dry processing is pretty basic. The cherries are spread out in the sun. A worker rakes the beans frequently to turn them over and make sure that all of them are drying. And, the workers must cover the beans in case of rain and at night so that the morning dew does not moisten the coffee again. They keep doing this until the cherries are dried to 11 percent moisture content. This can take several weeks! Small coffee farms in dry areas and coffee farmers without a lot of money use this process.

Wet Coffee Processing: First You Soak the Coffee but You Still Need to Dry It!

With wet processing, the cherries are fed into a pulping machine. This separates pulp and skin from the coffee bean. Beans are separated by weight using water channels where heavy beans sink and light beans float. Then, the beans are separated by size using a series of screens or rotating drums.

For wet processing, the beans are left in fermentation tanks filled with water for up to 48 hours. This removes another layer called the parenchyma and a layer of mucilage on the parchment. Then the beans are rinsed one more time before drying.

Wet processed coffee beans can be dried by the sun to 11% moisture content as is done with dry processing. On a large commercial coffee farm, they will tumble dry the coffee in drying machines.

When the coffee beans are dry, they are still encased in a layer of parchment and are called parchment coffee.

One More Step: Milling the Coffee Beans

The parchment is removed from the coffee bean by a specialized hulling machine. Another optional step is polishing which removes any loose bits of silver skin from the bean. In Latin America, the company that does this is called a “trilladora” and is also a company that sells or exports coffee.

Roasting coffee requires that the roaster checks the temperature, smells the roasting coffee, and listens for first and second crack.
Roasting Coffee at a Trilladora in Manizales, Colombia

Getting the Sizes Right: Sorting and Grading Coffee

At this point, the coffee beans are sorted by size. This is done by passing them over screens of decreasing size. Larger beans such as Colombian Supremo are considered superior and command a higher price. Defective beans are removed by hand and the coffee is ready for sale or export.

Exporting Coffee for Your Cup of Java

To make export cost-effective, green coffee beans are packed in jute or sisal bags and loaded into shipping containers. Alternatively, the beans are loaded into plastic lined containers for shipping.
(National Coffee Association)

Where Is Your Coffee Grown?

Coffee comes from the “Bean Belt” roughly between to Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The biggest exporters are Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras.

June 2018 Exports in Thousands of 60 KG Bags

  • Vietnam: 2,575
  • Brazil: 2,548
  • Colombia: 918
  • Honduras: 856
  • Ethiopia: 599
  • India: 591
  • Uganda: 320
  • Mexico: 300
  • Nicaragua: 300
  • Indonesia: 250
  • Peru: 240

Sixty percent of coffee exports are Arabica coffee and forty percent are Robusta coffee. The big news this year is that Vietnam passed Brazil in their total volume of coffee exports. However, Vietnam produces Robusta coffee while Brazil produces both Arabica and Robusta. The leading producers of Arabica coffee are Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras.

Manizales: Juan Valdez Coffee Shop
Manizales, Colombia: Juan Valdez Coffee Shop

The August 1, 2018, Arabica mild coffee price was $132.70 for 100 pounds while Robusta was $83.70 for 100 pounds.

You may not know this, but much of Vietnam’s Robusta output is purchased for the caffeine that goes into soft drinks like Coca Cola! (NPR)

(International Coffee Organization)

Social Issues Relating to Coffee

It used to be that coffee was coffee and nobody worried much about where it came from or how it was produced. But, that has changed. We have gotten accustomed to drinking better coffee and even buying gourmet coffee brands. And, we have learned more over the years about the effects of how coffee is grown. These effects have to do with impurities in the coffee we drink, deforestation of tropical forests, degradation of the soil and water tables in coffee growing regions, and the near poverty in which many coffee farmers and workers live. Thus, many coffee drinkers are fussier about the quality and safety of the coffee they drink and about social issues like fair prices for small coffee farmers and preservation of habitat for migratory birds.

Fair Trade Coffee:   A Fair Deal for Small Coffee Farmers and Their Workers

People drink coffee all over the world. But nine-tenths of all coffee production comes from developing countries. While twenty-five million people work in the coffee business, many work for subsistence wages. And, coffee is a commodity with a price determined in trading markets far from where it is grown. It was after the collapse of coffee prices in the 1980s that Fairtrade was started.

As the Fairtrade website states,

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

The goal of Fairtrade is to guarantee predictable and better prices for coffee farmers as well as better wages, working conditions, and lives for workers at the base of the coffee industry.

As we mention in our article about Fair Trade Coffee,

None of these growers have the pricing power to gain a better market share or better price. They are largely at the mercy of a global supply chain. And the profits increase as one ascends the supply chain away from the coffee farmer.

Many coffee drinkers drink Fairtrade coffees because they are good coffees and because there seems to be more social justice in the Fairtrade movement than with other coffees.

Bird Safe Coffee: Preserving Rainforest Habitat for Birds

When farmers clear land in the tropical rainforest to plant coffee or other crops, they destroy the habitat where birds live. These are both local species and ones that migrate with the seasons. One of the important shade grown coffee benefits is that preserving the trees gives the birds a place to live!

Forested coffee farms are bio-rich buffer zones for plants, flowers, and wildlife that are at risk as a result of deforestation and poor land management. Planting coffee under the existing forest canopy results in a high-quality coffee.

The Smithsonian Institution has taken up the cause of the birds with their Bird Friendly® coffee certification.

The Bird Friendly® program aims to protect the most quality habitat from the threat of deforestation under the Bird Friendly seal. Bird Friendly coffees come from farms using a combination of foliage cover, tree height, and biodiversity to provide quality habitat for birds and other wildlife.

As with Fair Trade coffee, people drink these coffees because they are excellent shade grown coffees and to help protect the environment for the birds.

Sustainable Coffee Farming: Saving the Land for the Next Generation

A coffee farmer loves growing coffee. It is a labor of love. But, coffee farming is also a business. Many large coffee farmers clear-cut the land, use synthetic fertilizers, and apply pesticides and herbicides to increase their yield. These techniques increase the amount of coffee they grow and improve their short-term profits. Unfortunately, pesticides and herbicides seep into the ground and the water table. Clear-cut land is often subject to erosion.

Coffee farmers who want to pass their farms on to the next generation are more likely to practice sustainable coffee farming in order to protect the water table and preserve their land.

If you want to support farmers who practice sustainable coffee farming, drink organic, shade grown, and Fair Trade coffees as these coffees are grown using sustainable agricultural practices. Or, support the many Colombian coffee farmers who practice sustainable coffee farming without being certified by anyone.

Organic Coffee: Good for You and Good for the Environment

The best organic coffee brands have several things in common.

  • Climate, soil, elevation
  • A culture of growing coffee
  • Certification
  • Aroma, flavor, and antioxidants
  • Dedication to growing the best coffee

Growing organic coffee protects the environment and produces a cup of coffee free of many potential contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. You will like your organic coffee because it is the most often excellent Arabica. You will be safe drinking organic coffee because it is free of unwanted chemicals. And, you can feel good about drinking organic coffee because you can protect the environment for future generations.

To make sure that you are getting organic coffee, look for evidence of certification on the container. The gold standard for organic coffee certification is the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture. Look for their seal to make sure that the coffee you are buying is certified organic.

USDA Organic Coffee Certification Is the Gold Standard
USDA Organic Coffee Certification

The Rise of Specialty and Gourmet Coffee

The early rise of gourmet and specialty coffee can be traced back to Alfred Peet.

At a time when a cup of coffee was just a cup of coffee, Alfred Peet introduced us to the concept that coffee could be special. Alfred Peet taught us that the quality of coffee and its sourcing are important.

According to the (Investor’s Business Daily), Alfred Peet was a pioneer who brewed better coffee in America. He traveled to coffee growing regions and visited the farms. He sourced his coffee, bringing back the best to roast and brew for his customers. This was in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Berkley, California. Today, it is hard to pass through a major city without running into a Starbucks, Tully’s, Costa, or Caribou as well as countless neighborhood coffee houses serving specialty and gourmet coffees.

We referenced the Investor’s Business Daily article because coffee houses are the fastest growing niche in the restaurant business! Local coffee shops and large chains sell first and second wave coffee. What is this all about?

First Wave Coffee: Roasted, Ground, Ready to Brew

First wave coffee refers to companies like Folgers and Maxell House who sold mass produced coffee from the late 1800s to the late 1900’s. This coffee was roasted, ground, and ready to brew. The first wave also produced instant coffee, vacuum packed coffee, and drip coffee makers. The quality was not always so good, but no one noticed because there was little competition in the USA until the likes of Alfred Peet and others changed the game.

Second Wave Coffee: Sourced, Better Coffee, Gourmet Brands, Organic

After Alfred Peet, others picked up on the idea that coffee drinkers would pay more for a really good coffee that was freshly roasted and brewed.

The rise of Coffee house coffee in the USA also had its roots in Europe after World War II when GIs tasted espresso for the first time. The term “Americano” comes from the fact that American soldiers were used to the coffee that mom made back on the farm in Iowa, lots of it but not so strong. Europeans learned to dilute the espresso with water for these “Americanos.”

A coffee shop chain like Starbucks serves second wave coffee. Their coffee is sourced, roasted on site, and served as espresso, latte, mocha, and other variations to customers who come back again and again for reliably good coffee.

Third Wave Coffee: Which Farm, What Altitude, What Kind of Soil?

The Third Wave is very recent. Coffee connoisseurs learn the exact farm on which their coffee was grown. They become experts regarding altitude, soil, and production methods. Coffee tastings similar to wine tastings are common in coffee shops catering to the Third Wave. But, is Third Wave coffee really better, or just an expensive fad? There are coffee lovers who will visit a Third Wave coffee house for tastings but still regularly frequent their favorite local coffee house.

(Craft Beverage Jobs, the History of First, Second, and Third Wave Coffee)

Why Is Coffee Good for Your Health?

Once upon a time, we drank coffee to wake up in the morning and stay awake at work, or on long cross-country trips in the car. Too much coffee gave us the jitters and if we had high blood pressure the doctor said to cut out the coffee.

This has all changed! Researchers have uncovered a whole host of regular and organic coffee health benefits.

Would you like to reduce your risk of type II diabetes? Drink more coffee.

And, coffee appears to reduce the incidence of cancer of the prostate, liver, endometrium, and mouth and throat. (American Cancer Society)

Drinking coffee has been linked to a lower likelihood of developing degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. And there is evidence that at any point in life you can reduce your incidence of dying in the next few years by drinking coffee. (Circulation)

What interests many coffee drinkers are two more health benefits of drinking coffee, better athletic performance and better sex!

Most health benefits of coffee start at just a cup a day and increase up to about six cups. For better athletic performance, a cup or two before working out will be enough.

What Is Pink Bourbon Coffee - Nevado del Huila
Nevado del Huila – Tallest Volcano in Colombia

The Coffee World Moves On with Better Coffee at Home and Roasting Your Own

As we taste better coffee in the coffee shop or even in McDonald’s, many of us are no longer satisfied with our old Folgers or Maxwell House coffee at home. As a result, we buy gourmet coffee, organic coffee, Fair Trade coffee, and coffees from the far reaches of the world. We compare coffee from Ethiopia with coffee from Brazil. We try making Turkish coffee, organic Irish coffee, or café de olla to go with Mexican food.

And, we buy green coffee beans and roast our coffee at home! That becomes an adventure as we start with an old popcorn popper and end up putting out fires! Then, we move on to real home coffee roasters and become experts in first and second crack, the smell of roasting coffee, and learning just the right roasting profile for pink bourbon coffee from Huila, Colombia as opposed to mountain grown coffee from Caldas, Colombia.

Pink Bourbon Coffee Finca La Paula

BuyOrganicCoffee.org: Useful Coffee Insights and Information for Coffee Lovers

At BuyOrganicCoffee.org we observe the world of coffee. We write about the world of coffee. And, we try to provide you, our readers, with information you need regarding coffee, and coffee-related products. Our hope and our goal are to help you find the coffee you want whether it is organic, Fair Trade, Bird Friendly, or just sustainably grown.

When you need accurate and insightful information about roasting coffee and coffee roasters, we will provide it on our site. Likewise, we will post reviews about other coffee-related products from time to time.

If you have a question about coffee, organic coffee, or the equipment needed to produce a great cup of coffee at home, please feel free to leave a comment on our site or send us an email at admin@buyorganiccoffee.org.

We will get back to you and may even feature your question, and our answer, in one of our blogs!

All About Coffee – Slideshare Version

All About Coffee – PDF

Coffee Roasting

Coffee roasting turns green coffee into the dark brown aromatic beans used to make your cup of morning cup of java. The green coffee beans you start out with are spongy and smell a little like grass. With coffee roasting a series of chemical processes take place that totally change the flavor and aroma of the coffee bean.

More than a hundred different chemical and physical changes happen during coffee roasting. And, more seem to be discovered with each passing year. The basic changes are these.

  • Decomposition of sucrose
  • Loss of free water
  • Decrease in total protein
  • Loss of chlorogenic acid
  • Decomposition of trigonelline
  • Formation of melanoidins, lactones, aliphatic acids, aromatic components

(Science Direct)

Coffee Roasts

Coffee roasting at successively higher temperatures and for more time creates successive changes that alter the quality of the roast. The finished roast is classified as mild, medium, medium-dark, or dark.

Light Roasts

This level of roast has a light-brown color. They are removed from the roaster before any oil breaks through the surface of the bean. Use this level of roast for milder varieties of coffee in order not to lose their subtle taste and aroma.

  • Light City
  • Half City
  • Cinnamon

Medium Roasts

A medium roast has a deeper brown color and stronger flavor than a light roast. It also has a non-oily surface. This is the level of roast most often preferred in the USA and is also referred to as the “American Roast.”

  • City
  • American
  • Breakfast

Medium-dark Roast

With this roast some oil comes to the surface of the dark brown bean. The taste of this roast is deeper and richer. And, a medium-dark roast is where you will begin to experience a bitter-sweet aftertaste.

  • Full City

Dark Roasts

At this level of roast the almost-black bean is shiny due to coffee oil that has broken through to the surface of the bean. Dark roasts are noticeably bitter. As a rule, coffee becomes less acidic with successively darker roasts. This level of roast ranges from a very dark brown bean to a charred bean!

  • High
  • Continental
  • New Orleans
  • European
  • Espresso
  • Viennese
  • Italian
  • French

(National Coffee Association)

The level of roast you aim for in your home roasting will vary with your taste. Your results will depend on your level of experience with the coffee roasting process.

Some folks believe that richer flavored dark roasts have more caffeine. Actually, a bit of caffeine is lost with a dark roast. Your caffeine concentration is highest with a light roast!

Coffee Roasting Milestones: First and Second Crack

First Crack

When you pre-heat the coffee roaster and then add the beans, the temperature falls. The beans are absorbing the heat! As the beans heat up their water also starts to evaporate. The chlorophyll, anthocyanins, and other green plant constituents break down and the bean loses its green tint to become more golden or yellow. At this time the coffee loses its “grass-like” aroma and smells more like toasted bread or even popcorn.

When the interior of the beans reaches the boiling point of water, 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degree Fahrenheit, the remaining water in the coffee beans comes to a boil and creates steam and pressure. As more and more beans come to this point you can hear many of them “pop” all at the same time. This popping is called the “first crack.”

This is when the bean gets larger to as much as twice its original size. You will start to smell aromas that you normally associate with coffee. The bean moisture content is now down to the three to five percent range (from its original ten to twelve percent).

If you want to be really fancy, at this point the coffee has an Agtron value of around 90. This is a way to measure the color of the bean in the near-infrared end of the light spectrum and is used in industry for quality control purposes. (Coffee Review)We really do not think you will want to go this far into the high-tech world in your home coffee roasting!

Second Crack

While the first crack is caused by steam building up in the coffee bean, the second crack comes from the production of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and other gases. These are produced during the chemical breakdown of fats, proteins, and sugars within the coffee bean.

The second crack occurs around 225 to 230 degrees Celsius or 437 to 446 degrees Fahrenheit. Here is where the beans start to become shiny as coffee oils break through to the surface of the coffee bean.

How far you take your coffee beans in this process depends on the level of roast that you want. When you get to the roast level you like, you turn off the heat and transfer the beans to a cooling container or surface. This needs to be done promptly because otherwise the beans will continue to a darker roast than you intended.

(Coffee Chemistry)

Ideally, you want to grind and brew your coffee as soon as possible after roasting. Roasted whole bean coffee retains a reasonable degree of freshness for up to six weeks when properly stored. But, the best and freshest coffee is right after you have roasted it.

Roasting Your Own Coffee at Home

It is equal parts science and performance art when you are roasting coffee. You need to know what you are doing any why. And then, every time you roast a few beans, you need to listen, be aware of the changes in aroma, and move safely and promptly to cool the beans to stop the roast at the appropriate time.

Professional coffee roasters do this for years and many grew up families in the coffee business, like Juan Fernando Hoyos Alzate in Manizales, Colombia.

Coffee roasting requires that the roaster checks the temperature, smells the roasting coffee, and listens for first and second crack.

Roasting Coffee in Manizales, Colombia

A few seconds delay can turn a great batch of gourmet coffee into motel and institutional coffee! Not paying attention to the first and second crack or changes in aroma, as well as the temperature, can absolutely ruin a batch of perfectly good beans.

You are certainly allowed to go right out and buy a home coffee roaster if you like. But, a good way to learn the basics of coffee roasting is to start with the basics and then progress to a more automated approach.

Manual Coffee Roasting: The “Popcorn Popper” Route

In places like Ethiopia and the mountains of Mexico, they traditionally roast the coffee beans in a pan over an open fire, grind them up, and brew coffee all in one sitting. So, when you decide to go the manual coffee roasting route, you are in good company.

Use the same sort of device you would use to pop popcorn. No, not the microwave! You will need to shake or stir the pot or cast iron skillet or use an old popcorn popper with a mechanism for stirring.

Manual coffee roasting really is a bit like popping popcorn. Just don’t use the microwave and don’t add any cooking oil!

Note: You can get some smoke when you roast coffee, especially when aiming for a dark roast. It is a good idea to roast your coffee in a well ventilated area, with open windows, or with an exhaust fan turned on.

The skin or parchment that covers the bean dries and detaches when you roast. Some may fly around when you roast manually and, when you use a home coffee roaster, you need to routinely remove it to prevent fires!

Like popcorn, coffee gets bigger when you roast it and becomes lighter due to water loss.

Manual Coffee Roasting Equipment

  • Kitchen scale
  • Clock, watch or timer
  • Thermometer able to read up to 500 degree Fahrenheit
  • Oven mitts or hot pads
  • Cooling rack
  • Roasting pan or metal colander
  • Paper and pencil to write down the route you took to the perfect roast
  • Airtight container for storing coffee

Manual Coffee Roasting Steps

Measure out the beans

  • Use three to four ounces of green coffee
  • Remember that beans will expand to as much as three times their original volume
  • You will want the coffee beans to be no more than three layers deep while roasting
  • If you are using a popcorn popper with a crank stirrer, eight ounces is good

Keep track of what you are doing

  • Method used
  • Heating method and settings
  • Time to first crack and duration
  • Time to second crack and duration (only for dark roasts)
  • Roasting container temperature of or beans at each step
  • Aromas and color at critical times
  • Time spent cooling the coffee
  • Color and roast level

The Coffee Roasting Process

  • Turn on your stove to medium which is just over 400 degree Fahrenheit.
  • Add the beans once you have achieved roasting temperature
  • Shake or stir the beans with a wooden spoon or crank the popcorn popper
  • Watch the temperature
  • Watch the beans for color changes
  • Listen
  • Note the changes in aroma
  • For most home roasting you will remove after the first crack

When to Remove from Heat

  • The color is right (from experience)
  • The aroma is right (from experience)
  • The sound is right (first crack or second crack)
  • Temperature is right (from experience)
  • Expected time has elapsed (from your notes)

Now, use your oven mitts and pour the roasted coffee into a colander or large pan to cool. Stir occasionally while the beans cool off. Blowing a small fan across the cooling beans will help remove any remaining chaff.

When the beans are down to room temperature, move them to an air-tight container. Ideally use something like a zip lock bag that can expand. Let them rest for at least four hours and for as long as three days. Having said that, you are absolutely allowed to grind a few of your newly roasted coffee beans to brew a cup, or two, or three of coffee!

Roasting coffee the manual way can be fun and even an adventure. But, with time we will get tired of this approach and start looking for a home coffee roaster and a more “automated” and “reproducible” approach to coffee roasting.

(Home Roast Coffee)

Roasting with a Home Coffee Roaster

Using a coffee roaster allows you to more easily control temperature and roasting time. And, most home roasters let you keep track of your favorite roasting profiles so that you do not have to guess each time you roast a new batch.

There are two basic types of coffee roasters, fluid bed and drum.

A drum coffee roaster consists of a rotating chamber that tumbles the green coffee beans as they roast. A fluid bed coffee roaster, also called a hot air roaster, forces very hot air through the roasting chamber. The air will typically enter from the bottom of the chamber and thereby lift and continually mix the beans for an even roast. Or the air can enter from the side of a rotating chamber such as with the Gene Café CBR models.

Coffee roasting with a home roaster takes the coffee through the same roasting steps as when you roast manually. What you are looking for with a home coffee roaster is an easier, more automated process that you can reproduce each time you want to roast a batch of coffee.

The ideal home coffee roaster lets you record several roasting profiles that you can return to time and time again for the various roasts you like the best.
With a home coffee roaster, however, you need to do more maintenance. These devices can even catch on fire if not routinely cleaned properly!

Fluid Bed Coffee Roasters vs Drum Roasters

Any roaster where forced air moves and heats the coffee beans is a fluid bed roaster. Many believe that you reliably get a “brighter” roast with a fluid bed as opposed to a drum roaster.

Drum roasters are more common in large commercial settings or in specialty coffee shops. They consist of a large drum that rotates and mixes the coffee as it roasts. According to Michael Sivetz who invented the fluid bed roasting method, the chaff that separates from the beans and remains in the drum carbonizes and forms potentially carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals. The chaff is blown out of the roasting chamber with a fluid bed system. (This theory is yet to be proven true.)

Which is better for you?

Drum Roasters

The design of a drum roaster is relatively simple and this contributes to the fact that it is the more-economical method of coffee roasting. A rotating cylindrical drum is heated from under the drum or in the center via a pipe or conduit. The heat source can be electrical or natural gas. The advanced models in use today have “profile controllers” that set temperature and timing for any given roasting profile.

This roaster heats partially by conduction of heat from the wall of the drum directly to the coffee beans (about 25%). But most of the heating is via convection of hot air and beans mixing and creating air movement within the drum (75%). A typical drum roaster measures two temperatures, the flame or electric heating element temperature and the temperature (using a thermocouple) within the roasting chamber. Here is a basic drum roaster diagram courtesy of Coffee Chemistry.

Coffee roasting with a drum coffee roaster is cost efficient and can produce large batches

Drum Coffee Roaster Diagram: credit, Probat

Drum roasters are typically very reliable and can produce vast amounts of roasted coffee in commercial settings.

Problems with drum roasters happen with extreme temperatures and uneven distribution of heat within the drum. Scorching of part of the coffee batch can be a problem. In unusual circumstances, an uneven distribution of the beans can cause tipping as well. Obviously, this could be a dangerous issue with an extremely hot machine in your home. Setting the drum to rotate too rapidly and excessively high heat settings are risky as the centrifugal force may push the beans against one side of the drum and scorch them and make the roaster unstable.

Commercial drum roasters can roast as much as 5,000 pounds in each batch. A unit designed for home coffee roasting often roasts 200 to 500 grams (up to a pound) of beans.

Fluid Bed Coffee Roasters

This type of coffee roaster has been around since the 1970s. This is a tall cylinder in which the coffee beans are heated by forced hot air entering from the bottom. The coffee beans are lifted and mixed by the constant stream of hot air allowing for a uniform distribution of heat. All of the heating in this system is from convection. People who have used both methods often prefer the roast characteristics of this method.

Nice features of a fluid bed roaster are ease of cleaning, reduced roast time (about half), and better uniformity of the roast. Although supporters of this coffee roasting method say it makes a better cup of coffee, blind comparisons (where both methods are tested side by side) fails to confirm this opinion.

(Coffee Chemistry)

Here is a diagram of a fluid bed roaster courtesy of Mt. Hood Roasters.

Coffee roasting with a fluid bed roaster often results in a "brighter" roast

Diagram of a Fluid Bed Coffee Roaster

Both roasters need to be cleaned routinely. If you do not clean out the drum, the residual chaff and coffee oils give the next batch a bitter taste. If you do not clean out the chaff collector (chaff “can” in the diagram) you will get smoke and even fires. It is not a mistake that when you read the fine print that comes with your new coffee roaster, it says to keep a fire extinguisher handy!

When learning the art and science of coffee roasting, it is not a bad thing to start by roasting a few beans in a cast iron skillet or old popcorn popper. Many find that they can better appreciate the coffee roasting process without having too much technology in the way.

Whether you decide to go with a drum roaster or the fluid bed design, read the directions carefully and make sure you are setting up correctly. These devices by their very nature generate a lot of heat. Even with a push button highly computerized roaster, keep oven mitts handy and be careful, both when loading green beans into a pre-heated roasting chamber and when removing the roasted coffee beans.

The biggest advantage of home coffee roasting with a real coffee roaster instead of the trusty popcorn popper lies in the programming. With most modern home roasters you can try out various roasting profiles and even record them for future use. Your home coffee roaster will let you learn the results of changing the temperature, timing, and even fan levels. And when you get the roast that you like, you can reliably achieve that roast again and again.

(Coffee Chemistry)

Good Coffee Roasting Deserves Good Coffee

But, don’t forget that it all starts with the coffee. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars, or thousands of dollars, on a home coffee roaster only to roast old, stale Robusta coffee beans. The best gourmet coffees brands are almost all Arabica coffees from countries all around the world. Take a little time to learn about great coffee since you are now going to the trouble, and expense, of roasting your own at home.

While it is easy to walk into any grocery store and buy roasted coffee, either whole bean or ground, you will rarely find any green coffee beans. You can find green coffee beans online, but very often the price is rather high. A local coffee roaster has green coffee beans and may be a reliable source for you. Luckily, green coffee beans retain their freshness for a lot longer than roasted coffee beans, providing that you store them in a cool and dry place. This gives you the option of buying green coffee in larger amounts and usually for a better price per pound.

If you have questions about where and how to get green coffee beans suitable for home roasting, feel free to contact us at BuyOrganicCoffee.org by leaving a comment on our site or sending an email to admin@buyorganiccoffee.org or buyorganiccoffee@yahoo.com. We can help you find suppliers in the USA and can even help you get Arabica coffee beans shipped directly from Colombia from the heart of the coffee growing “triangle.” Whenever you have a question about coffee, coffee making, or coffee roasting, let us know and we will be pleased to help.