Arabica vs. Colombian Coffee: Explained

A basket full of coffee beans.

You don't have to be a coffee snob to pay attention to the type of beans you're using. The bean type you use when brewing coffee at home will impact both your preferred brewing conditions and flavor experience. Let's talk about the main differences between Arabica coffee and Colombian coffee.

What Is the Difference Between Arabica Coffee and Colombian Coffee?

Geography is really the distinguishing factor between Arabica coffee and Colombian coffee. However, the two actually have many characteristics in common. We'll dive into that in a moment!

Comparing Arabica Coffee and Colombian Coffee

Taste is the biggest difference that can be observed between Arabica coffee and Colombian coffee. Colombian coffee can be observed as being slightly fruity. Colombian beans produce a cleaner, brighter taste profile than Arabica beans.

Some Background on Arabica Coffee

Arabica coffee beans in a sack.
Coffee Grain Arabica

Arabica coffee originally comes to us from Arabia. However, Arabica varieties are currently grown around the world. Arabica beans come specifically from Arabica plants. These plants take a full five to seven years to even begin producing coffee beans that can be harvested and sold around the world.

Each Arabica tree can easily grow taller than the average person. As a result, the picking process can be difficult. What's more, picking needs to be done in waves because the beans on a single tree don't ripen in unison.

You've probably tasted Arabica coffee many times in your life if you're a regular coffee drinker. Arabica coffee can often be described as dark and thick. It tends to be stronger than other comparable bean varieties.

Some people do find notes of saffron and vanilla in Arabica coffee. We're really covering a wide variety of coffee beans when talking about Arabica beans. In fact, something like 75 percent of all coffee beans produced around the world today can be classified as Arabica.

Arabica coffee is sometimes mixed with other bean types. For instance, Kona coffee is sometimes used to “lighten” the intensity of Arabica coffee. Your own preparation method will also influence just how strong Arabic coffee tastes.

Kona coffee fruits

Arabica's intensity level and flavor can be controlled through your serving method. This isn't a type of coffee that you want to leave sitting in the pot all day if you don't like strong, bitter brews. Arabic coffee will actually become stronger if it is left to sit warming in a pot for a long period of time!

You may be wondering about the growing conditions of Arabica beans. Yes, it's true that this bean variety is grown around the globe. The common factors at all harvesting sites are volcanic soil, humidity and ample rainfall.

Arabica coffee is truly harvested in nearly all corners of the globe that provide hospitable conditions. South America is a real hot spot for Arabica bean growing! Additionally, Arabica growers run sprawling plantations everywhere from Ethiopia to Java.

Yes, it's true that Arabica coffee is somewhat of an umbrella term for most of the coffee that is sold and served at coffee shops and grocery stores around the world. It's always interesting to try Arabica coffee from different regions to spot subtle taste differences. For instance, Arabica coffee grown in an especially sunny region often has a richer flavor.

Some Background on Colombian Coffee

The flavor experience generated by Colombian coffee is heavily influenced by how this bean type is processed. Colombian beans are actually washed during the preparation process. This is done to reduce acidity and purify the beans.

What does Colombian coffee taste like? Many people find Colombian coffee to be very fruity and light. However, there is still a richness that can be observed in every sip. This balance is one of the reasons why Colombian coffee ranks very high on the quality list.

Colombian beans tend to be very aromatic. There's simply no mistaking Colombian coffee for anything else when you open up a bag of beans! Of course, there's one other very simple way to know that you're dealing with Colombian coffee beans.

Colombian coffee beans are beans that are exclusively grown in Colombia! In fact, what many people don't know is that Colombian beans are technically Arabica beans. Only geography and processing techniques differentiate Colombian coffee from Arabica coffee.

Many people call Colombian coffee “washed Arabica” due to the washing process that occurs just after cultivation. Again, this washing process is what creates that vibrant aroma that Colombian beans are noted for. There's also one more thing about Colombian beans that makes them very unique.

The wet processing that is used to “wash” Colombian coffee is a very specific harvesting technique. The fruit is first removed from each individual coffee seed. Next, the beans are dried.

Colombian beans produce such delicious, high-quality coffee because Colombia offers the perfect climate for bean growing! Colombia has high altitudes and rich, volcanic soil that create optimal growing conditions for beans. Additionally, the warm climate of Colombia helps beans to thrive.

cafe de colombia

Many people actually consider Colombia to be the best location on the planet for growing coffee beans. That's one of the reasons why Colombia is one of the top bean exporters in the world. Colombia's volcanic soil is stacked with nutrients that allow beans to grow into the best product possible.

Yes, you are probably tasting Colombian sunshine in every sip of Colombian coffee that you take. The abundant sunshine of the region is one of the reasons why coffee plants thrive along the sloping, volcanic hills of the country. It is ultimately that combination of elevation, nutrient-rich soil and sunshine that makes Colombian coffee so exquisite.

Aren't Arabica Coffee and Colombian Coffee Technically the Same Thing?

This can be a complicated question to answer! Yes, Colombian coffee is a type of Arabica coffee. However, we've already covered some of why the two coffee varieties are not interchangeable.

The easiest way to look at it is that Colombian coffee is derived from Arabica coffee. All Colombian coffee is technically a type of Arabica coffee. However, not all Arabica coffee is a type of Colombian coffee.

Which Type of Coffee Is Better?

There's really no right or wrong answer when it comes to your preference for Arabica or Colombian. However, there is somewhat of a general consensus regarding which bean type is considered to be more precious. Most people would categorize Colombian coffee as being better than Arabica coffee.

There's absolutely nothing inferior about Arabica coffee. However, this is a more “common” bean type than Colombian coffee. Some people simply don't find anything spectacular about the taste of Arabica coffee.

Colombian coffee is classified as “premium” coffee by the standards of most people. Yes, it's true that the flavor of Colombian coffee has more notes and subtleties than a standard Arabica bean. The delicate harvesting and processing that go into creating a batch of Colombian beans also contribute to the status of this variety.

Is There a Price Difference Between Arabica and Colombian?

Colombian coffee is generally more expensive than Arabica coffee. Make sure you're really looking at labels before you throw a bag of beans in your cart. Anything that is labeled as a Colombian “blend” may not contain a high ratio of authentic Colombian beans.

The higher price of Colombian coffee is justified. It simply takes extra energy and labor to complete the complex seed-processing techniques that are used when producing Colombian coffee. Yes, you can sip with satisfaction because you know that each bean was given personal attention as part of a truly artisan process even if it was produced by a “mainstream” brand.

Be Aware of Colombian Coffee “Blends”

It can seem like the confusion over what is or isn't Colombian coffee never ends! One of the reasons behind the confusion is that many coffee manufacturers and brands offer options called Colombian “blends.” Make sure you know what you're getting!

Is a Colombian blend really Colombian coffee? Unfortunately, it can be impossible to tell. The reason for this is that there isn't much of a standard when it comes to labeling a coffee product a “blend.

A coffee blend is a mixture of two or more different types of coffee bean. The mix doesn't have to be even. In fact, it rarely is.

Coffee brands often use coffee blends to charge customers more for less expensive beans. They may only place a small percentage of Colombian beans in a blend that is made up mostly of a cheaper bean type. However, they can put “Colombian” on the label.

The bottom line is that “blend” is a very ambiguous term that tells you nothing about how much you're getting of each bean type. Yes, it can be fun to experiment with different blends that are available. However, you should not go in with the expectation that you'll be getting a high concentration of more expensive beans when you opt for a blend.

The way to ensure that you're getting a product that consists only of Colombian beans is to stick to single-origin coffees. Additionally, you can also do your own bean blends at home to ensure that you know exactly what percentage you're getting. Creating your own bean blend using Colombian and a less expensive Arabica bean can be a great way to save money without leaving quality up to chance!

Should Arabica Coffee and Colombian Coffee Be Prepared Differently?

You might be wondering if Arabica coffee and Colombian coffee should be brewed using the same methods. Yes, it's perfectly fine to simply brew both varieties in a standard coffee machine. Both bean types are also suitable for cold-brew batches and pour-over coffee.

It's important to keep in mind that Arabica coffee can sometimes come out darker and stronger than Colombian coffee when brewed under the same conditions. This is great news if you're a fan of dark coffee! However, you can simply choose to reduce your grounds-to-water ratio slightly if you're concerned about making coffee that's too dark and bitter.

The other big serving suggestion for Arabica coffee is that you should consume it right away. Arabica coffee really isn't meant to sit in a pot for more than 30 minutes. The coffee will actually grow darker and bitterer with every interval of time that passes.

This fact makes Arabica a perfect option for single-serving brews. Of course, that's not to say that varieties like Colombian are meant to be left to sit in a pot for long periods of time. However, “lighter” bean varieties do provide you with a little more leeway regarding creation-to-consumption windows because they don't transform their flavor qualities quite so quickly!

Colombian beans actually happen to be perfect beans for making espresso. Colombian beans are uniquely suited for espresso beans because they do not turn excessively bitter when roasted. That means that you can enjoy potent, concentrated coffee without excessive bitterness.

Final Thoughts on the Differences Between Arabica Coffee and Colombian Coffee

The big secret about the relationship between Arabica coffee and Colombian coffee is that they really aren't that different. Of course, it's important to remember that Arabica and Colombian aren't interchangeable just because Colombian is technically a version of Arabica. We'll just call these two varieties cousin coffees.

Every person who enjoys coffee should definitely try both varieties before deciding on a favorite. You may find that Arabica coffee is a perfect choice for your everyday brew because it is so inexpensive and easy to find. That means you can reserve your Colombian coffee stash for slow mornings where you're in the mood to make some espresso at home.

FAQs About Arabica Coffee and Colombian Coffee

Is All Coffee That Is Wet Processed Colombian Coffee?

No, coffee is not Colombian coffee just because the beans have been “washed” using wet processing. This process is often used for bean varieties other than Colombian. However, only beans that are grown and harvested in Colombia can be called Colombian coffee.

What Makes the Harvesting Process Different for Arabica Beans Compared to Colombian Beans?

Most non-Colombian beans are processed using a traditional method that allows the coffee “cherries” to dry in the sun. The beans are removed only after fully drying. This method does not require any washing because the moisture has already been removed from the fruit.

Can You Mix Colombian Coffee and Arabica Coffee?

There's no rule that says you can't mix different coffee types at home. Mixing Colombian with Arabica might seem like an attractive option because it will help to make pricier Colombian beans “go further.” However, the big thing to watch out for is the fact that Arabica beans may simply overpower and bury the flavor of Colombian beans.

Which Parts of Colombia Grow Coffee?

Most coffee growing takes place in two areas of Colombia. Those areas are the highlands of the Sierra Nevada and the slopes of the Andes.

Which Type of Coffee Has Lower Acidity?

Colombian coffee generally has much lower acidity than Arabica coffee. This makes splurging on pricier Colombian beans more than worth it if you have a sensitive stomach that is bothered by high-acid coffees.

Does Arabica or Colombian Have More Caffeine?

Colombian coffee actually has a much lower caffeine value than most other coffee types. Arabica has the higher caffeine content of the two. What's more, Arabica's caffeine levels actually continue to elevate after brewing if coffee is left to sit on a warmer for more than 30 minutes.

Related Article: DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COFFEE BEANS AND ESPRESSO BEANS

Is It Worth Paying More for Colombian Coffee?

This is a matter of personal preference. However, the specific growing environment and personal attention required to grow and process Colombian coffee are behind its higher price. Many people find that the amazing flavor and quality of Colombian coffee do make the price more than worth it!

Is All Coffee From South America Colombian Coffee?

No, all coffee grown in South America is not Colombian coffee. Only coffee grown and processed in Colombia is Colombian coffee. Some coffee growers do use the Colombian “washing” method when processing other types of beans.

Is Colombian Coffee the Best Coffee in the World?

Some people do consider Colombian beans to be the best in the world. However, the answer is subjective.

Is Colombian Coffee Decaffeinated?

Colombian coffee naturally contains caffeine. However, many coffee suppliers and brands offer decaffeinated versions of Colombian coffee.

Can Colombian Coffee Be Robusta Coffee?

No, Colombian coffee is never Robusta coffee. Colombian coffee is always Colombian Arabica.

Are You Supposed to Add Milk and Sugar to Colombian Coffee?

Yes, Colombian coffee is traditionally served “light and sweet” using milk and sugar. However, you're free to enjoy your coffee using any combination you choose!

What Is a Cheaper Alternative to Colombian Coffee?

Any type of Arabica coffee will generally be cheaper than Colombian coffee. Something like Arabica coffee grown in Java will offer a flavor profile that is somewhat similar to the Colombian bean. You can also simply make a Colombian “blend” at home by supplementing your high-quality beans with some cheaper Arabica beans.