Colombians use the word “supremo” to refer to coffee beans of the highest quality. Supremo beans are the largest with a size of 17 and 18 (according to the screen size used for sorting, 17 and 18 refer to beans between 6.7 mm and 7.10 mm). Their size influences the intensity of the coffee and its balance.
Hidden inside these large “seeds” is an interesting combination of a rich bouquet of light aromas and the distinctive, pleasant aftertaste of peaches and citrus fruits. Many experts acknowledge Colombia Supremo to be the ultimate coffee, in other words one that offers excellent balance between full body, subtle bitterness and a delicate sensation of acidity.
Colombia specialises in the production of exceptional coffee with taste qualities appreciated by baristas around the world. One of the factors that contributes to its value is the harvesting method and processing of “coffee cherries”. Beans are selected according to size during the harvest and only those that are large enough are used to make the best Colombian coffee. Supremo beans of screen 17 and 18 are the basis for size and quality classifications of beans in Colombia.
That is also why beans from this country are characterised by “reproducibility”, which means that each batch of coffee produced has the same taste.
The high quality of Colombian coffee is the reason baristas often select it when participating in championships.
Colombia – land of coffee
Colombia is the second largest Arabica producer worldwide and the largest producer of washed Arabica. It is home to more than two and a half billion coffee trees. Moreover, the coffee industry employs two million people who produce around 11 million bags (60 kg each) of coffee beans annually.
Coffee is a great tourist attraction in Colombia. Coffee plantations stretch over enormous swaths of land in Colombia and many growing areas specialise exclusively in coffee tree cultivation.
The primary Colombian plantations are located at high elevations in the foothills of the Andes in the central-western part of the country, which has a moderate and relatively humid climate that is conducive to the growth of coffee trees.
This growing area, the most traditional throughout Colombia, is called the “Zona Cafetera” (coffee zone) and is centred around the cities of Salento and Valle de Cocora. Zona Cafetera is located on hard hilly terrain in the shape of a triangle.
Thanks to its unique microclimate, it offers the best growing conditions for coffee cultivation. Coffee trees grow at high elevations so the slowly ripening beans have time to take the best that the soil has to offer and the harvesting, done by hand, guarantees that only ripe fruit is picked. In Colombia, the cultivation of coffee is often carried out alongside banana plantations (plantains), a proximity that helps the coffee plant grow faster and produce better and tastier fruits.
The tourists that visit Zona Cafetera are amazed by the incredible sight of plantations as far as the eye can see, learn about cultivation methods and coffee production cycles and finally, have the chance to taste the best Colombian coffee.