Colombia

Hacienda Curazao

Hacienda Curazao is located in Chinchina, Colombia, and owned by the Jaramillo family. The family has coffee around the Hacienda, and also in Huila. 

Their Supremo grade is a superb quality coffee, beautifully balanced and consistent, making for delicious drinking on it’s own and also a premium blend base.  Simon Jaramillo also operates a series of small farm lots in the area, some at extremely high altitudes, producing experimental micro-lots in different varieties using cutting edge processing techniques. These unique coffees will be available in strictly limited quantities in the 2020/2021 harvest season.

History of Colombia

Colombia was named by the Spanish after the explorer Christopher Columbus, although ironically he never visited the land. After a landing by Alonso de Ojeda in 1499, the coastline was explored in 1500 by Rodrigo de Bastidas, a Spanish conquistador, who is also credited with the “discovery” of the isthmus on the same voyage.  In 1525 Bastidas returned to Colombia and founded the first European city, Santa Marta, on the Caribbean coast. At that time the native peoples of the region were separated by Colombia’s rugged geography into a variety of language groups. The largest group was the Chibcha, who dominated the others within their reach through the power of their organised armed forces.

The Spanish conquistadors rapidly moved through the new territory, establishing new cities, and had fully conquered the native population by 1549. At this time the Spanish Crown reclaimed the rights to governance from the conquistadors and took over administration of the new colony, known as New Granada, and covering the land area now occupied by Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Venezuela, with Colombia as the capital.

The next 200 years saw a period of consolidation and exploitation, as the Spanish developed mining, agriculture and textile industries to channel wealth to Spain.   This period was quiet politically, aided by the Roman Catholic Church, who were utilised by the Crown to play an important role in pacifying the population. During these years the native population was greatly reduced by disease, slavery, acculturation and intermarriage.

The French invasion of Spain in 1808 saw an end to the quiet, with the resulting confusion in the colonies producing several declarations of Independance.  An uprising in Bogota on July 20, 1810 is marked as Colombian Independence day, although in fact the new leaders remained allied with the Spanish King and did not declare independence until the following year.  The Spanish re-conquered the territory between 1814 and 1816, in what was destined to be their final years of power in the area.

The leaders of the Bogota uprising, having fled to Venezuela, invaded Colombia under Simon Bolivar in 1819, driving the Spanish out in a decisive defeat at Boyaca and forming the Republic of Colombia. Successful battles followed in Venezuela in 1821, and Ecuador in 1822, uniting the territories as Gran Colombia in an unstable alliance.  Political divisions resulted in the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador in 1830, leaving Colombia and the isthmus on their own.

Colombia now embarked on a turbulent period of political and social struggle between Liberal and Conservative elements, culminating in the War of a Thousand Days between 1899 and 1903. Following this bitter struggle was the devastating loss of the isthmus territory.  After the Bogota government refused an offer from the U.S. to build a canal across the isthmus, in 1903 the region revolted in favour of North America and negotiated a treaty to cede the Canal Zone to become U.S. territory, in exchange for the construction of the canal and annual payments to the new country of Panama.  This marked the final drawing of map boundaries outlining the country of Colombia as we see it today.

Coffee in Colombia 

It is not precisely known when coffee was first brought to Colombia, but is thought to have been introduced by European Jesuits during the 1500’s.  A popular story is that Catholic priests ordered farmers to plant coffee trees as confessional penance, which gradually resulted in the spread of coffee throughout the modern growing regions. In 1835 the first coffee export to the U.S. took place, with 2500 pounds being sent north. Following this shipment, the organised export of processed green coffee grew rapidly, and today represents around 11.5 million bags per year, making Colombia the third largest producer of Coffee in the world behind Vietnam and Brazil.  Given that most of Vietnam’s crop is robusta, and 82% of Brazil’s arabica crop is natural processed, Colombia is, in fact, the largest exporter of mild washed arabica coffee.

Colombian washed coffee is perhaps the definitive coffee to many drinkers, being mild and pleasant to taste, with very solid, balanced structure, making it an excellent base for blends in addition to its fine drinking qualities as a single origin.  There is plenty of interesting cup variation between the growing regions, and in recent times growers have begun experimenting with modern processing techniques such as honey, yeast fermentation and temperature controlled naturals.