As we’ve previously explained in our blog post on buying Ethiopian coffee, coffee shops can roast and sell whole beans all year round. Unlike avocados, bananas and strawberries, green coffee beans are less perishable. They can store in a warehouse for multiple years at a time, depending on both the supplier and coffee shop in question.
But, just like in our Ethiopian coffee article, there is a growing season and a harvest season. In this blog post, we’ll explain when the best time of year to buy Colombian coffee is, based on harvest seasons.
A few facts about Colombian coffee
Colombia is the third largest coffee producer in the world. It supplies 12 percent of the world’s production of coffee, and the country employs more than half a million farmers who grow beans on more than 20 percent of the country’s farmland. It’s big business and has become a large part of the country’s national identity.
Consequently, Colombian coffee is always in high demand. Depending on the farm and the region you buy beans from depends on the quality of beans you get. Many farms will sell green coffee beans all year round, however, there is a principle harvest season.
When is the main coffee harvest in Colombia?
The main harvest for Colombian coffee beans is primarily between October and March. However, because Colombia lies almost directly along the equator, the country’s climate is extremely humid and tropical. It makes for ideal conditions all year round.
Consequently, harvest seasons often vary for region to region. The regions closer to the equator in the south – like Tolima, Quindío and Valle – for example, have two crops per year. They have a ‘principle’ harvest between September and December, and a ‘mitaca’ (a second crop) between April and May. Below is a map of Colombia’s harvest seasons by region, courtesy of the Colombian Coffee Federation:
When does new season Colombian coffee arrive to consumer countries?
Harvest season might mean that cherries are picked from their trees, but that doesn’t mean the coffee is ready to be sold on shelves right away. There’s the processing of the coffee to consider – which is almost always wet-processed – as well as quality control, the brokering period and then transportation times.
For many consumer countries selling specialty Colombian coffee beans, then, new season coffee doesn’t arrive until February or March the following year.
From there, a coffee shop might hang on to a bag of green beans for a while before roasting them. Let’s assume a specialty coffee shop stores green beans for a three-month period. If they’re buying beans in February, any Colombian beans on the shelf in May or June are likely fresh from that season’s yield.
What are you drinking?
Colombian coffee is more versatile than almost every other coffee growing region on the planet. As a result, beans can be roasted darker without the fear of an overly bitter flavour profile. This makes them the perfect choice for espressos.
Typical bean varietals include Typica, Bourbon, Caturra and Maragogype (read more about Colombian coffee varietals here), and they often produce well-balanced and high acidity coffees.
Want to learn some fun ways to brew up a cup of Colombian coffee? Read our guide to the 44 types of coffee you need to know about.