Yes, It's 100% Colombian . . . But is it Supremo?
Who hasn't seen the countless newspaper, magazine and television advertisements proclaiming "100% Colombian means fine coffee".
What’s more, most everyone knows the logo too – with Juan Valdez and his burro.
But what exactly does "100% Colombian" mean?
Well, all that high-dollar marketing is based on at least some truth – Colombia produces some of the finest coffees in the world. Interestingly, however, Columbia is only the second-largest producer of coffee beans although it is a leader in the cultivation of fine Arabica (gourmet quality) coffees.
Arabica coffee trees produce the best tasting coffee (as opposed to their Robusta cousins). This species of coffee tree prefers high altitudes and cooler climates which results in a much slower maturation cycle for the coffee beans. This delayed maturation allows the flavors in the coffee cherry to intensify, producing a bean with a more developed . . . how might you say . . . "personality".
From Supremo Beans to Pasilla Beans – There's a Difference
While there are many versions of the origin of coffee in Colombia, it is generally believed that Jesuit Missionaries brought Arabica coffee trees to the Orinoco region of Colombia in the early 1800s. Today, while the cultivation of coffee in Colombia is widespread, the typical Colombian coffee plantation is less than 8 acres and is family owned and operated.
The finest of the Colombian coffees is the Supremo. This coffee is medium strength and sweet tasting with a superlative flavor and delightful aroma. The name Supremo comes from the size of the bean. Supremo beans are slightly larger than the decreasingly small Excelso, Extra, and Pasilla beans.
Personally, I prefer to pay a few extra dollars per pound for a good Colombian Supremo gourmet coffee because it is clearly better than the granulated brown stuff that comes in cans from the grocery store. The fact that both the gourmet coffee and the inferior canned coffee are both technically "100% Colombian" says that the
marketing line – "100% Colombian means fine coffee" – is not necessarily a gourmet-quality to a gourmet-quality comparison.
Always Premium Quality – Never Less
I will say that the Colombian Supremo from Coffee.org is probably the best Colombian coffee I have ever tasted. The beans are large and the roast is consistently perfect. The first pound of Colombian Supremo sold me – the coffee had lots of personality and body with a subtle sweetness.
On the other hand, I have friends of mine who are not exactly coffee connoisseurs but believe that all Colombian coffee is created the same. They recently purchased a large tin of "100% Pure Colombian Extra Coffee" and couldn’t quite understand why I choose to drink tea at their house instead of coffee – pleading that "the coffee was cheaper because it was in bulk!"
Oh well . . .
What I need now is another cup of coffee!