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Is It Really Colombian Coffee?
Colombian coffee buyers are purchasing coffee from Peru to make up for a weak harvest. It turns out that roughly a fifth of Peruvian coffee exports are going to Colombia this year. So, when you see a bag of Juan Valdez organic coffee you might wish to ask yourself, “Is it really Colombian coffee?” Colombia produces more Arabica coffee beans than any country outside of Brazil. But, historic rains damaged coffee plants as they flowered and continuing rains increased the incidence of plant diseases. Thus Colombia expects to see a fall in its harvest of 300,000 bags to 7.5 million. Last year the harvest was 7.8 million bags. This year will mark the lowest production of coffee in Colombia in a quarter of a century as a persistent El Niño has reduced harvests for years. Colombia produced 12.5 million bags of coffee in the 2007 to 2008 growing season. So, when you see the Juan Valdez label, is it really Colombian coffee?
What Does the Juan Valdez Label Mean for Colombian Coffee?
The Juan Valdez name was made up by the Colombian Coffee Growers Association years ago and gives the buyer assurance that what they are getting is 100% Colombian coffee. There is, in fact, a coffee house chain in Colombia called Juan Valdez as well. Regarding the question, is it really Colombian coffee or not, Peru is only selling just under 100,000 bags of coffee to buyers in Colombia. Colombia, even in a historically bad year will produce 7.5 million bags. This is seventy-five times the amount that they are buying from Peru. The Colombian cafetero is still a major coffee producer where growing organic coffee in the shade is tradition and healthy organic coffee is common. It would appear that there is little reason to fear a wholesale replacement of Colombian coffee found under the Juan Valdez label. So, is it really Colombian coffee? It probably is.
Getting Organic Coffee from Colombia
A sad fact is that Colombia has been dealing with a civil war for half a century. The government is winning and the rebellion has been driven out of the cities. However, large parts of the Cafetero are mountainous and jungle. Rebel groups that may have started out with a clear motive of improving the lives of Colombians have resorted to running drugs and kidnapping in order to survive. Thus, Colombia is not only a major producer of coffee but also a producer of cocaine. If you fly out of any airport in Colombia please expect to have the armed agents pin prick any bags of coffee that you are carrying and apply a “sniff” test for drugs. No other nation in the world will allow mailed bags of Colombian coffee to enter. So, if you yearn for organic coffee antioxidants from the land of Juan Valdez you need to find another route. And you still need to ask, is it really Colombian coffee, as Colombia strives to make up for production shortfalls caused by bad weather.