Columbia - MC Grecof

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Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Ecuador and Venezuela). A 40-year insurgent campaign to overthrow the Colombian Government escalated during the 1990s, undergirded in part by funds from the drug trade. Although the violence is deadly and large swaths of the countryside are under guerrilla influence, the movement lacks the military strength or popular support necessary to overthrow the government. While Bogota continues to try to negotiate a settlement, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders.



Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama

Geographic coordinates:

4 00 N, 72 00 W

Map references:

South America, Central America and the Caribbean


total: 1,138,910 sq kmland: 1,038,700 sq kmwater: 100,210 sq kmnote: includes Isla de Malpelo, Roncador Cay, Serrana Bank, and Serranilla Bank

Land boundaries:

total: 6,004 km
border countries: Brazil 1,643 km, Ecuador 590 km, Panama 225 km, Peru 1,496 km (est.), Venezuela 2,050 km


3,208 km (Caribbean Sea 1,760 km, North Pacific Ocean 1,448 km)

Maritime claims:

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM


tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands


flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico Cristobal Colon 5,775 m
note: nearby Pico Simon Bolivar also has the same elevation

Natural resources:

petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower

Geography - note:

only South American country with coastlines on both North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea


Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Colombia
conventional short form: Colombia
local long form: Republica de Colombia
local short form: Colombia

Government type:

republic; executive branch dominates government structure



Flag description:

three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double-width), blue, and red; similar to the flag of Ecuador, which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center


Economy - overview:

Colombia is poised for muted growth in the next several years, marking continued recovery from the severe 1999 recession when GDP fell by about 4%. President PASTRANA's well-respected economic team is working to keep the economy on track, maintaining low interest rates, for example. In accordance with its IMF loan agreement, the administration also is taking steps to improve the public sector's fiscal health. However, many challenges to improved prosperity remain. Unemployment was stuck at a record 20% in 2000, contributing to the extreme inequality in income distribution. Two of Colombia's leading exports, oil and coffee, face an uncertain future; new exploration is needed to offset declining oil production, while coffee harvests and prices are depressed. The lack of public security is a key concern for investors, making progress in the government's peace negotiations with insurgent groups an important driver of economic performance. Colombia is looking for continued support from the international community to boost economic and peace prospects.

Agriculture - products:

coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; forest products; shrimp


$14.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)

Exports - commodities:

petroleum, coffee, coal, apparel, bananas, cut flowers


Colombian peso (COP)

Currency code:



Ports and harbors

Bahia de Portete, Baranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Leticia, Puerto Bolivar, San Andres, Santa Marta, Tumaco, Turbo


As you know, Colombian coffee is highly marketed and widely available in the US and all of Europe. They have been largely successful at equating the name Colombian Coffee with "Good" Coffee. This is half-true. Colombian can be very balanced, with good body, brightness (acidity) and flavour. But much of it is a bit boring, and most of it that you find in Supermarket bins etc. is simply a decent clean cup with almost no aftertaste (if it is fresh from the roaster, which is not likely). So, is there good Colombian coffee? Yes. It just takes work to find it. Good Colombian is rarely sold simply as Supremo or Excelso. Colombian that has more "cup character" is usually pooled from particular regions and will have the regional name identifying it. Sometimes a generic Colombian just happens to cup really nice, but thats rare, and it requires cupping each lot to find the special one. Last year was poor in general but the current Colombians are really outstanding. I wouldn't normally offer so many types but that's what happens when you "follow your nose..."A word on grading of Colombians. I am one of a growing number who finds the Colombian grading system outdated. Other Central American and South American coffees grade mostly on altitude, not bean size. Supremo and Excelso are screen sizes only, and that doesn't make sense because a larger bean does not mean better cup quality. In fact, the presence of diverse bean sizes can (but not necessarily) result in better cup quality. Since we rate everything by the cup quality and all coffees are judged "blind", bean size is largely irrelevant, and doesn't enter into how I chose the following Colombians from the 30 to 40 samples I cupped this year.

The Primary Growing Regions of Colombia:
These are the regions our samples come from, and from these we chose the ones we feel are best in any given season ...

Popayan, Cauca


Sierra Nevada

San Augustin




A note on Colombian selections: Coffee from Colombia comes in all grades to suit different markets: there are lower grades for commercial and food service applications, generic medium grades, Speciality grades, and at highest end of the spectrum there are specific appellations with designated varietal and farm or micro-region. The later has only become available in the last two years or so (before that many fine coffees were pooled with not-so-fine lots to form large exportable shipments). This means that the marginally Speciality grades, pooled lots designated only by a general region like Huila, Medellin, Antioquia, Popayan, etc. no longer represent the best of Colombian coffee. These lots can be okay, but recent samples have showed a tendency toward the aqua-pulp rapid milling process. The use of non-traditional varietals like Variedad Colombian is also a trend towards higher production detrimental to cup quality. Our response is to carry the best Colombians we can find, traditional varietals, farm and micro-regional lots, special selections. I'll certainly cup the other lots too and if there's something good we'll get it.

"Usual Good Quality" Colombian Excelso"

Maximum of 13 Imperfections Equals Type

Imperfections are based on a volume of 36 cubic inches (the contents of a cylinder 4" in diameter and 2 7/8" high or rectangular container of approximately 7 1/2" length X 4 1/2" width X 1 1/8" height).

Colombian Excelso Coffee shall be understood to be of the crop which is current at the time of shipment.

exeples of defects


Schedule of Imperfections




Pod or



1 Full Black
1 Full Sour
1 Pod or Cherry
5 Shells

1 defect
1 defect
1 defect
1 defect

or Cut





5 Broken or Cut beans
2 to 5 Partly Black beans
2 to 5 Partly  Sour beans (1)
5 Floaters

(1) depending upon the extent to which each bean is discolored or spoiled

1 defect
1 defect
1 defect
1 defect




Hull or


3 Small Sticks
1 Medium Stick
1 Large Stick
2 Hulls or Husks

1 defect
1 defect
2 to 3
1 defect






3 Small Stones
1 Medium Stones
1 Large Stones
2 Parchments (pergaminos)

1 defect
1 defect
2 to 3  defects
1 defect

Screen Supremo 18




0 def/300gr, 18 Screen

Crop: 12-'13  

We're proud of the Estate coffees we have from Colombia, but this doesn't stop me from cupping the regular Excelso and Supremo lots that come along. After all, the Estate coffees need to be better in the cup, no just by the fact that they have a fancier name. And once in a blue moon a coffee offered as a generic Supremo is really nice, and here it is! This coffee is from the Huila region, an origin we haven't stocked in about 4 years. The coffees are usuallu a little fruity with a light body, but since Supremos are usually pooled from many farms in the region, the resulting cup suffers from the effect of the "lowest common denominator". Well, this coffee isn't as generic as all that: it is from a specific group of farms and a specific importer that has offered some very nice coffees in the past, "J.A. Valencia". The cup has flavors like a spiced tea: apple, cinnamon, muted clove flavors. The body is not as thick as you would think from a Colombian (typical lighter body of a Huila) but it works well with the cup character ... and after all, lighter body is not a defect. The aftertaste turns a little to a sweet basil flavor, which sounds a little incongruous, but isn't when you are tasting it. In know that the fruitiness in this cup is a particular coffee cherry scent that you can pick up if you visit a wet-mill on a farm, the sweet fruit as it, but that's not exactly the flavors I think about when I cup this coffee.

Full City Roast:

The cup can be a bit sour at the light end of city, and definitely holds up to a heavier roast. In fact, this cup is excellent well into the Light French stages.

Compare to:

A great cup by any measure, with the fruity flavors often found in Bucaramangas (like the Mesa de los Santos) and an overall "spice tea"-like cup character.



washed classified as per screensize (Supremo or Excelso) and per preparation European prep and USA prep.


800 to 1.900 Meter


main crop: from April to June small crop: October to January


practically all year long

Port of Export:

Buenaventura, Santa Marta, Cartagena


in container in bags (of 250 of 70,- kos net) or bulk 20.7 tons


abt. 14 Mio bags

Export figures:

abt. 8.5 Mio bags

Special remarks:

suitable for all blends


1st world producer for washed Arabica

Caffeine content:


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