|A handful of just-roasted Colombian Arabica coffee beans.|
|Examining a bag of Arabica coffee ready for export.|
Today, coffee cultivation still employs more than 30% of Colombia's agricultural laborers. But in recent years both production and prices have dropped. Production has been hammered by climate change, the armed conflict (which drives peasants off their land) and cycles of replanting, since it takes about five years for a coffee plant to produce its first harvest.
According to El Tiempo, Colombia's coffee production had dropped from some 16 million sacks per year in the early 1990s to under 8 million last year. Colombia's percentage of world coffee production has dropped from 16% in the 1960s to 6% last year. And coffee's percentage of Colombia's total exports has plummeted from 65% in the late 1970s to only 4.5% of exports last year.
|Fresh-roasted coffee beans at Cafe de la Fonda, |
a small coffee factory in Bogotá.
Still, Colombia is still known internationally for producing mild, high-quality Arabica beans, the gold standard for coffee drinkers.
|Samples of Arabica beans on right, and smaller, |
miscolored Robusta beans on the left.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours, which offers different kinds of coffee tours.