Looking into high-quality organic coffee, you’ll very likely find terms like Arabica and Colombian coffee. Buyers of specialty coffee often find a wide variety of coffee with different taste notes and characteristics. Beginners are often likely to wonder how Arabica vs Colombian coffee comparison holds. We explain it all in this article.
Common Coffee Plant Varieties
There are several varieties of the coffee plant. However, for the coffee consumer, only two varieties are notable.
What Is Arabica Coffee? The Mild And Flavorful Coffee Explored
If someone’s talking about good quality and flavor-rich coffee beans, there’s a good chance they’re talking of Arabica. The beans are mild in taste, offer wonderful aroma, and often have a rich flavor. Floral, fruity, or chocolaty taste notes are common, and play a part in the rich flavor of this coffee.
Coffee Arabica, the name refers to the place of origin for this coffee. The plant is believed to have originated in the Arabian peninsula, specifically Yemen. As the use of coffee spread, so did the number of regions growing it.
This is the most sought-after variety of coffee and forms the larger part of global consumption.
Plenty of commercial coffee uses Arabica coffee blended with Robusta beans. It is often a way to balance caffeine, flavors, price, or other characteristics of the coffee.
Robusta, The Strong And High-Caffeine Coffee
The second major variety of the coffee plant is the Robusta. These beans lack the milder touch of Arabica coffee. Instead, Robusta packs on a punch of caffeine and has low acidity. Seems like the dream so far, right?
Robusta has an Achilles heel, which is its taste. Coffee brewed from Robusta beans tends to be bitter. It definitely lacks the complex taste and flavor notes that Arabica brings to the table. This is the big reason why Arabica is the more sought-after variant.
The beans are still fairly good and Robusta takes a big share of global coffee consumption. Being caffeine-rich, the beans often find their way into strong coffee blends or caffeine-rich offerings.
What Is Colombian Coffee? The Geographic Touch Explained
As we see, there are two major varieties of the coffee plant, and none of them are called “Colombian”. So where does this leave us on the arabica vs Colombian coffee comparison? Well, here’s the answer.
Geographic Location Makes A Difference
It’s not just the variety of the coffee plant, but also where it is grown that plays a big part in the flavor and taste of the coffee beans. The coffee plant can be quite sensitive to the climate of the place and the soil that it is grown in.
Another factor is the altitude or elevation – higher altitudes usually see better quality of coffee grown. Of course, other climate requirements play a role. Coffee needs an overall warm climate, so the coffee plant doesn’t grow at altitudes where the temperature is lower than normal. Often, high-grown coffee lies in the altitudes of 3300-4200 feet above sea level, though this is not a hard range and can vary.
Want A Cup Of Java?
For many countries and communities, a “cup of Java” means a cup of coffee. “Java” in the term refers to Java, Indonesia. While Java itself may have lost its specific regional connotations to coffee, location remains an important indicator of taste. Other qualities affected by region are aroma, flavor, acidity, and taste notes.
This is why region is important for coffee taste, especially for specialty coffee. You’ll often have heard of Sumatra Coffee, Bali Coffee, Kona Coffee Ethiopian Coffee, etc. That should give you a good idea of what is Colombian coffee.
The Colombian Coffee
Simply put, Colombian coffee is coffee grown in the nation of Colombia, South America. The term denotes a geographic area and not a specific variety of coffee. So what is Arabica coffee and how does it relate to Colombian coffee? Most of the Colombian coffee actually belongs to the Arabica variety.
As it turns out, Colombia is an excellent place for coffee to grow. The nation has the right soil and climate where the coffee plant can thrive. Additionally, there are several highlands and elevations that allow the cultivation of high-quality coffee.
All of these factors lead to Colombian coffee being highly regarded. The nation is amongst the top global coffee producers.
The Popularity Of Colombian Coffee
The European Union has placed Colombian coffee under the Protected designation of origin (PDO). This means only coffee grown in Colombia may carry the “Colombian coffee” name. This sounds self-evident to the reader but there is a good reason for it.
There are plenty of unethical marketers who would gladly slap the label of “Colombian coffee” on lower quality products. The threat of legal repercussions keeps such behavior at bay.
UNESCO also recognizes the “Coffee Cultural Landscape” of Colombia as a World Heritage Site.
Processing Colombian Coffee
The specific processing of Colombian coffee plays a role in its unique flavor. Once the coffee cherry is picked, it is mashed in a pulper. This leaves the pit of the “cherry” covered in pulp. Over the next few days, processing involves skillfully washing off this pulp from the cherry pit. This cherry pit is what we know as the coffee bean.
This process requires a lot of skill (and water) to accomplish. Once this pit has been washed off the pulp, it is ready to be roasted in whatever manner is preferred.
The processing and washing are partly responsible for the unique properties of the Colombian coffee. It results in lowered acidity and somewhat lower caffeine. On the other hand, the taste notes end up being enhanced.
It is worth noting that this washing and processing is no longer exclusive to Colombian coffee. Plenty of other regions have started to follow this result as well, and it has benefitted them too.
The Bottom Line — Understanding Arabica And Colombian Coffee
To put it all together, there are big points to note in the arabica vs Colombian coffee comparison. Arabica is a variety of the coffee plant. Colombian coffee is exclusively coffee grown in the nation of Colombia. Colonbian coffee is generally of the Arabica variety. This coffee is well-regarded for its taste and aroma. It is also notable for a relatively lower acidity and caffeine content.