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Coffee was first cultivated commercially in Colombia in the mid-1830s and during the twentieth century was the country’s main export crop. A mountainous topography and many tropical micro-climates gives much of Colombia ideal growing conditions.
Coffee is normally wet processed, although the Centre for Coffee Investigation (Cenicafé) has developed an ecological system that uses very little water, reduces contamination of local water sources by 90% and reduces water consumption by 95%. This dry pulping method has proven reliable not just in preserving the eco-system but also improving consistency.
The drying process in much of Colombia is unique – small-holder farmers spread the parchment across the flat roofs (or ‘elvas’) of their houses to dry in the sun. Polytunnels are also used in farms with high altitude and cold weather conditions.
Varietals include Caturra, Colombia, Tipica, Bourbon, Maragogype and Tabi.
Coffee is harvested practically year-round depending on the region. The main harvest takes place from October to February with November and December being the peak months. There is also a second fly (or 'mitaca') crop several months later, again varying by region and micro climate.