Why Colombians don’t drink their own coffee

Colombia, one of the largest exporters of coffee, has not always enjoyed the same luxuries we have. For years, the home of the finest Arabica beans has been left to consume subpar imports from countries such as Vietnam. (Rafael Saldana/Creative Commons)

Colombia, one of the largest exporters of coffee, has not always enjoyed the same luxuries we have. For years, the home of the finest Arabica beans has been left to consume subpar imports from countries such as Vietnam. (Rafael Saldana/Creative Commons)

The morning doesn’t truly begin for coffee lovers until their first cup of that aromatic ambrosia. Fortunately, we Americans live in one of the few countries, among others such as Germany, France, Japan and Italy, that receive exported coffee from the finest of Arabica beans. Colombian coffee, highly regarded as the highest quality coffee, exports nearly 75 percent of their rich Arabica beans, respectively. 

Colombia, one of the largest exporters of coffee, however has not always enjoyed the same luxuries we have. For years, the home of the finest Arabica beans has instead been left to consume subpar imports from countries such as Vietnam.

The most common style of the exported coffee in Colombia is called tinto which has been described as watery and weak. In fact, the word tinto itself translates directly to “inky water.” Others have said finding good quality coffee is difficult in Colombia. This is due to the fact that the high-end coffee shops have been financially out of reach for most Colombians.

“It came as a shock, having a good cup,” said Cesar Parra, a coffee lover who spoke from the crowd during a master class for baristas. “I was born and raised in Colombia. And all my life, I’d been drinking bad coffee.”

Coffee is not just Colombia’s number one export, but a centerpiece of their society. From farmers to consumers to even the country’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, many Colombians are involved with the coffee trade business. Santos has spent the majority of his career representing the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation at the International Coffee Organization.

Recent reports have stated the demand for coffee is only expected to increase. This leaves Colombia in a situation where value of coffee will rise, alongside the numbers of exports.

On one hand, mass exportation of coffee has helped spur Colombia’s economic growth. A 2013 report stated that, “The farming GDP in the second quarter of 2013 grew about 8 percent compared to the same period of 2012 and coffee contributed 43 percent of this rise thanks to a 34 percent growth of value-added crops; the rest of agricultural sectors grew 7 percent and livestock grew by 4 percent.”

On the other hand, mass exportation of coffee deprives Colombians from drinking the produce of their own labor. Getting their hands on high quality coffee has become a rarity for Colombians despite producing such mass amounts. Although coffee production benefits their country economically, they should be able to rightfully consume the goods they produce.

Fortunately for Colombia, some well-traveled entrepreneurs have begun working alongside foreign investors to change the coffee game to better the quality of domestic coffee. Domestic consumption has increased recently due to these investments in quality. In fact, hundreds of new cafes have begun opening across Colombia, drawing in people from various backgrounds to enjoy the delicacy that is coffee.


Emma DeGrandi is a contributor to The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at emma.degrandi@uconn.edu.