While creating my series about Colombian coffee, I got emailed the question “What is the difference between Arabica and Colombian coffee?”
This article is my response to the question, and is added to the series. In this post I detail what Arabica coffee is, what Colombian coffee is, how they differ, which is best, the nutritional content and how to brew Colombian coffee to get the best tasting cup of coffee.
Keep reading as we dig down and dig deep to answer this question and roll on with this article.
What Is Arabica Coffee?
Arabica coffee, the most popular coffee sold in the world, with some 60% of all coffee produced being of this variety and around 30% Robusta. The remaining 10% is split between Liberica and Excelsa beans.
Arabica coffee is known for being more flavorsome, more tasty while having less caffeine than Robusta with robusta having 1.7x to 2.25x more caffeine.
Arabica coffee is also more acidic and was first grown in Ethiopia and Yemen.
What Is Colombian Coffee?
In the most basic of terms, Colombian coffee is coffee that is grown within the boundaries of the South American country of Colombia.
The type of bean grown is an Arabica coffee bean. The reason Arabica beans are chosen as the commercial coffee plant of choice by farmers is because the quality of coffee beans produced is of a superior quality to others.
If the Arabica coffee plant was not used, the Colombian coffee industry and their fame for being amongst the very best beans in the world would be questionable as Arabica beans and known for producing higher quality flavors.
Colombian coffee is grown in 22 unique regions divided into 3 zones, North, South and Central. Unlike other coffee producing regions in the world coffee belt, Colombian plantations enjoy 2 seasons per year.
What helps the coffee cherries produced to be of top quality is the nutrient-rich soil, many of which are grown in volcanic soil, the climate and elevation.
The taste, depending on where it is grown, is of strong nutty and chocolaty tones and hints of fruit and floral tones and, surprising for an Arabica bean, lightly acidic; I’ll get into why later.
The caffeine content is on par with other Arabica coffee.
What Is The Difference Between Arabica And Colombian Coffee?
Six of one and half a dozen of the other! Colombian coffee is Arabica coffee, and thus it is not a question of what the difference between them.
The question is what gives Colombian coffee beans their unique and distinctive taste. The biggest difference, other than the soil quality, is the preparation process that results in a lighter less acidic coffee.
This is thanks to the beans being washed, which has the additional benefit of purifying the beans. A coffee that is less acidic and a fuller richer taste is a big plus.
What Is The Colombian Coffee Taste Profile?
As I touched on this earlier, Colombian coffee is light and fruity and low in acid. A rich nutty and chocolate notes can be enjoyed as you sip away. It is a very balanced and aromatic coffee.
Due to the washing process it is less acidic than what an ordinary and regular Arabica bean would be, This is what makes Colombian coffee beans stand out.
The wet processing of Colombian beans is a very specific technique used during harvesting where the fruit is removed first from every individual coffee seed. The next step is drying the beans.
The superior quality of Colombian beans and the ability of the farmers in South America to produce high quality coffee is a lot more than just the washing process and quality of the soil or the fact that a great deal is grown on nutrient-rich volcanic soil.
Coffee has been grown in the nation for 300+ years. The skill of the actual coffee growers and farmers plays a large contributing factor to the quality of the end product. This is a factor many coffee enthusiasts and coffee aficionados forget about.
The farmers have all the right tools, location and conditions and climate in their favor to grow coffee that is truly outstanding. Ultimately, they also play a large contributing factor in ensuring the plant grows well and produces quality cherries that result in great tasting coffee beans once processed, roasted and brewed.
Nutritional Content of Arabica Coffee
There is not a lot of nutrition in Arabica coffee or any coffee for that matter. A 12 ounce cup of coffee will have around 22 calories, little to no fat and protein and very low in salt.
What coffee does have is caffeine as a stimulant and a great deal of antioxidants which have a positive impact on your health.
Nutritional Content of Colombian Coffee
As above, coffee is not fruit juice or some soft drink. It is predominantly water. The beans add very little to that other than 22 calories for a 12 ounce (360 ml) cup.
It does have magnesium and potassium but at low levels. Not a lot of nutrients, no fat, not protein, literally.
It is what you add to your coffee, regardless of where the beans are from, that changes the nutritional profile. If you add sugar, syrup, milk, whipped cream, you can expect the number of calories to change dramatically.
Which Type Of Coffee Is Better, Arabica Or Colombian?
It is not really a question of which type is better, as Colombian coffee is Arabica coffee. It is more a question of why are Colombian coffee beans better than other, or ordinary Arabica beans?
The reason for Colombian beans being better than a general Arabica bean is that extra washing step which reduces the acidity of the beans. The near perfect climate that results in a very rare two seasons, high quality soil and the care, attention and traditional cultivation techniques result in getting a bean that pulls out more local flavor from the origin.
Colombian beans and the taste will vary greatly amongst the 22 regions. I’ve tried most, but not all of them I can tell you they are all great.
Undoubtedly it is a premium coffee, and rightly so.
Best Way To Brew Colombian Coffee Beans
There are a number of ways to brew high quality specialty coffee beans. The best way, and one I am such a sucker for, is the French press.
The French press allows you to control all the variables connected to brewing coffee and is by far one of the best brewing methods for drawing out the full flavor of your beans.
I use the French press to make a traditional Aguapanelas, the way Colombians love their coffee. It requires a little more effort, but when you are paying good money for great coffee, the extra effort is worth it.
The brewing process of Colombian Aguapanelas coffee is as simple as boiling water, adding raw cane sugar chopped into small pieces and simmering and stirring until they are melted.
On the topic of getting the most out of your beans, put an effort into storing them properly by using a proper coffee canister that has an airtight lid and a one-way valve. Store your canister in the freezer for maximum freshness.
Your beans won’t freeze.
Also, ensure that they are whole beans that you buy and not pre-ground. When you grind your own beans, you are getting a fresher coffee as your beans start to degrade as soon as you grind them. This is why I grind only as I am about to brew them.
Plus, you get more benefit of being able to control the grind size for all the different coffee drinks you want to make.
Caution! Colombian Blends!
If you want the best Colombian coffee beans, regardless of which brand and which region they are from, look for your beans to 100% Colombian beans.
If you buy a blend, you are getting a mix of other coffee beans, most likely also from South America.
There is no set definition as to how many Colombian beans need to be in a blend to be called a Colombian blend. From my own experience and in depth knowledge of coffee, this can be as little as 10% (as is the case with a Hawaiian Kona Blend) and 90% from elsewhere like Brazil, Panama, Peru and so on.
If you really want a good quality single origin Colombian coffee, look for it to be printed on the label 100% Colombian coffee.
Make sure the word “Colombian Blend” or “blend” is not on the label or packaging anywhere as a blend is of a lesser quality and has a milder taste and smoother taste than a legitimate 100% Colombian coffee.
Is Colombian Coffee More Expensive Than Arabica Coffee?
a good quality Colombian coffee is usually more expensive than regular Arabica coffee. Pay attention to the coffee that you are buying to ensure you are not getting ripped off and paying an elevated price for a coffee blend or various beans.
Generally speaking, the best quality single origin Colombian coffee beans are slightly more expensive than other single origin coffee beans of a similar quality.
What Is Special About Colombian Coffee?
Colombian coffee is highly desired for its special quality, taste, aroma and low acidity. It is a coffee that can be classed as volcanic (where applicable). It is highly desired due to the traditional method, so cultivation and taking the extra step of washing to reduce the acidity yet without diminishing the flavor profile or caffeine content.
Frequently Asked Questions About What Is The Difference Between Arabica And Colombian Coffee
Which Is Stronger Colombian Or Arabica?
I always find this to be a strange question as Colombian coffee is Arabica coffee. It’s like asking “is Arabica coffee stronger than Arabica coffee?” In terms of flavor Colombian coffee is great but is a little weaker than other Arabica coffees as it is lighter in acidity and is accepted by many as a higher-quality coffee bean.
Is 100% Colombian Coffee Arabica?
Yes, 100% Colombian coffee is Arabica coffee. It has a smooth taste and makes a great cup of coffee. Colombian coffee is the type of coffee beans that are highly desired.
What Makes Colombian Coffee Different?
The flavor, the climate, the processing and rich taste. It’s lightly acidic and with, what is for high quality coffee and very milk flavor with citrus hints.
Why is Colombian Coffee Better?
Colombian coffee is one of the very few coffee growing regions that boasts a perfect climate and high quality harvesting process married with coffee farmers that have generations and generations of experience cultivating coffee.
Does Colombian Coffee Have More Acid?
No, coffee from this South American country has reduced acidity, which is notable in its taste.
What Is The Best Colombian Coffee?
The top Colombian coffee brands are Don Pablo and Juan Valdez.
Frappé-Ing It All Up, What Is The Difference Between Arabica And Colombian Coffee?
The question to be asked is not “What is the difference between Arabica coffee and Colombian coffee? But “what makes Colombian coffee a high quality Arabica coffee?”.
Colombian coffee is Arabica coffee. It is simple as that. The whole process of cultivation, the climate, soil and the processing of the beans make their flavor stand out as a quality coffee to try!
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