Nestled in the northeastern part of Colombia, Colombia Santander is a coffee-growing region that is truly unique. Pronounced "San-tan-der," this region is located in the Andes Mountains, boasting an altitude of around 1,200 to 2,000 meters above sea level. One interesting fact about Colombia Santander is that it is divided into two geographical areas: the northern area, known for its cooler temperatures and high altitudes, and the southern area, which has a warmer climate and lower altitudes.
Coffee has been grown in Colombia Santander for more than a century. In the late 19th century, coffee was introduced to the region by Jesuit priests who recognized the potential of the area's fertile soil and ideal climate for coffee cultivation. Over the years, coffee production in Colombia Santander has grown significantly, with the region now producing around 1% of the world's total coffee output. The dedication of the local farmers and their commitment to preserving traditional coffee cultivation methods have contributed to the region's reputation as a producer of high-quality, specialty coffee.
Although specific farming and processing methods may vary from farm to farm, most coffee producers in Colombia Santander follow traditional practices. Coffee is typically grown under shade trees, which helps protect the plants from the intense sun and promotes biodiversity. This method of cultivation is considered environmentally friendly and sustainable, as it preserves the natural habitat for various species of flora and fauna.
In terms of processing, it is not uncommon for farmers in Colombia Santander to use the traditional "wet" method. This involves removing the coffee cherry's pulp and then fermenting the beans for 12 to 36 hours. After fermentation, the beans are washed and spread out to dry in the sun on raised beds or patios. This process is known to produce coffee with a clean and bright flavor profile.
The coffees from Colombia Santander are renowned for their complex and distinctive flavor profiles. Due to the region's high altitude, the coffee cherries ripen slowly, allowing the beans to develop rich and nuanced flavors. The cooler temperatures of the northern area further contribute to the development of bright acidity and fruity notes.
Typically, coffees from Colombia Santander exhibit flavors of red fruit, such as cherry and raspberry, as well as citrus notes, like orange and lemon. The coffee may also have a sweet caramel or chocolate undertone, with a hint of nuttiness. The overall taste is often described as well-balanced, with a medium body and a smooth, lingering finish.
While there may not be specific well-known farms or farmers in the Colombia Santander region, the collective efforts of the local coffee producers have earned the area a reputation for producing exceptional, specialty-grade coffee. The unique combination of traditional farming and processing methods, coupled with the region's ideal growing conditions, has resulted in a coffee that is truly a testament to Colombia Santander's rich coffee heritage.