The History of Colombian Coffee


If you’ve read our blog Where Does Coffee Come From and still have questions related to single-origin Colombian coffee specifically, you’re in luck! We’ve continued our story, as the subject of Colombian coffee, its origins, and rocky start, are what make up Roasted Tales at its core.


Coffee’s Arrival to the Americas

Coffee was introduced to the Americas through the French colonies, where other colonizers and Jesuit priests began to bring it with them during their conquest of the natives as part of the Spanish Empire’s bid to colonize all of the Americas.


Records show that in 1714, the Mayor of Amsterdam presented King Louis XIV of France with a coffee plant, which was later planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris. In 1723, a young naval officer took out a seedling from the garden and transported it to Martinique where it was planted and credited for creating over 18 million coffee trees throughout the island.


First Recorded Appearances of Colombian Coffee

While coffee reached North America in 1668, arriving at New Amsterdam, it wasn’t until 1741 that reports were recorded of the first appearance of coffee in Colombia. A missionary priest by the name of Jose Gumilla wrote about sowing the coffee plant in his book El Orinoco Ilustrado y Defendido, during its introduction to South America.


When Jose Gumilla first wrote about coffee in 1741, Colombia wasn’t yet called Colombia. It was actually still part of the territory that was then called New Granada, which was comprised of modern-day Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia. The Spanish Empire still had control over the land, which means that when it was first introduced, coffee became a symbol of colonization for the natives.


The cultivation and sale of coffee was initially met with reserve by Colombian natives. Despite efforts by the Colombian leaders on behalf of the European Jesuit priests to encourage their people to grow coffee, people were hesitant due to the fact that a coffee tree takes three to five years to yield its first crop.


The Formation of the Coffee Triangle

The first record of coffee grown for commercial purposes in Colombia appears in 1835, with reports of coffee grown in the Santander region in 1840. By 1835, Colombia had exported 2,500 bags of coffee to the United States, and by 1875 was exporting 170,000 bags to the United States as well as Europe. Currently, Colombia exports around 11 million bags of coffee per year, making it the third largest exporter of coffee in the world (behind Brazil and Vietnam).


In his book Coffee in Colombia, Marco Palacios writes that it slowly substituted “an agrarian economy based in middle size slavery estates that produced cacao.” Coffee plants began to appear in the departments of Cundinamarca and Tolima by 1870, with both being located in the Colombian Andes. While Tolima is still one of the most well-known coffee regions in Colombia, it is not technically part of what is considered to be the modern-day Coffee Triangle. The coffee-growing axis, known for its ideal location and altitude, is comprised of the three departments of Risaralda, Quindio and Caldas.


Roasted Tales is headquartered in what is known as the “capital” of the Eje Cafetero (Coffee Region), Pereira. Pereira is situated perfectly between the capital cities of Armenia and Manizales (in Quindio and Caldas, respectively) which makes it the perfect place to move between the Coffee Triangle in search of the best cup and best story.

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