Colombia’s size alone certainly contributes to the different profiles that its 20 coffee-growing departments (out of a total 32) express in the cup, but even within growing regions there are plentiful variations due to the microclimates created by mountainous terrain, wind patterns, proximity to the Equator, and, of course, differences in varieties and processing techniques.
The country’s northern regions (e.g. Santa Marta and Santander) with their higher temperatures and lower altitudes, offer full-bodied coffees with less brightness and snap; the central “coffee belt” of Antioquia, Caldas, and Quindio among others, where the bulk of the country’s production lies, produce those easy-drinking “breakfast blend” types, with soft nuttiness and big sweetness but low acidity. The southwestern departments of Nariño, Cauca, and Huila tend to have higher altitude farms, which comes through in more complex acidity and heightened florality in the profiles.
Nariño is the southwestern-most department in Colombia along the border with Ecuador, with one of its main boundaries being the Pacific Ocean. The climate here is unusual even in a place as geographically diverse as Colombia: Dry, rugged terrain and dramatic slopes and valleys create conditions that boost the big, sparkling, and juicy quality of the coffees. Warm, humid air collects in the lowlands during the day and creeps up the mountainside at night, which allows coffee to thrive much higher than commonly thought possible, all the way up to 2,300 meters.