Colombia is regarded as one of the finest producers of coffee on the planet. Currently the third most prolific coffee exporter, 2018 estimates suggest 13.3 million bags of coffee are to be shipped over the course of the year. The International Coffee Organization (ICO) states that the standard coffee sack weighs 60 kg (132 lbs), which puts the predicted Colombian coffee output for the year at 798 million kilos (1.76 billion pounds). Only Brazil and Vietnam produce more coffee for the caffeine fanatics across the world.
The 600,000 coffee growers in Colombia carefully cultivate over 12% of the world’s Arabica coffee, and are enjoying a recent resurgence, after climate change hit the community hard. In the mid-2000’s, Colombia was easily turning out 12 million bags per year, but difficulty in coping with the poor conditions saw this drop below 9 million bags in 2010. Climatic changes can cause some severe difficulties when growing coffee, as the Coffea Arabica species requires rather specific conditions to flourish. With a 25% increase in precipitation and steadily rising temperatures over the last four decades, the local producers must learn to adapt and protect their precious crops.
Behind mineral fuels, such as oil and petroleum, coffee is the largest export commodity for the Colombian state. The legendary bean accounts for 7% of all exports. The biggest customer is, unsurprisingly, the United States of America (43%), with Japan, Germany, Belgium & Canada taking a further 31% of Colombian coffee between them. So business is good, right?
Yes, the $2.5 billion coffee industry is a success, but Colombia is still far from the dizzying heights of 1992, when 17,000,000 bags were exported in a record year. This significant drop has allowed the Vietnamese market to overtake Colombia for the first time, but it will take something drastic for the Asian nation to gain the reputation for quality that the South Americans enjoy.