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Juan Valdez Café: Discovering the Origins of Colombia’s Finest Coffee Brand

Image Credit:Ilja Generalov/shutterstock

Colombia, a nation nestled between Panama, Venezuela, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea, is a land of diversity both culturally and geographically. With its six distinct regions known as departments, Colombia offers a plethora of flavors, climates, and, notably, coffee depending on where it is cultivated. Juan Valdez Café, the renowned premium coffee brand of Colombia, showcases single-origin whole bean coffees sourced from three of the country’s most picturesque departments: Huila, Santander, and the Sierra Nevada. Their latest product, the Single Origin 100% compostable PODS, features these same varieties, making it convenient to experience the essence of Colombia from the comfort of your kitchen.

Let’s start with Huila. This region, known for Bambuco dancing and the mouth of the Magdalena River, is a hub of natural resources and vibrant local culture. The locals, referred to as Huilense, are famed for their festive spirit and traditional celebrations. Neiva, the capital of Huila, hosts annual festivities like the San Juan and San Pedro festivals, where girls don elaborate dresses adorned with flowers, sequins, and embroidery as they revel into the night.

The fertile volcanic soils, courtesy of the Nevado Volcán del Huila volcano, coupled with the region’s cloud cover and proximity to the equator, create an optimal environment for growing coffee beans in Huila. Interestingly, Colombia and Kenya are the only two countries with the ideal elevation and equatorial proximity for semi-annual coffee harvests. The coffee from Huila mirrors its surroundings – balanced, with medium-to-high acidity and a lingering sweet aftertaste that delights the palate.

Santander, named after the renowned political leader Francisco José de Paula Santander, a key figure in Colombia’s independence war, is steeped in history. Today, it is known as the country’s adventure sports capital, offering activities like jungle hikes, ATV rides, and white water rafting. The largest city in Santander, Bucaramanga, retains its small-town charm despite its over one million inhabitants.

Geographically split into Santander and Norte Santander, this department offers diverse landscapes catering to year-round production of Arabica beans. Coffees from Santander boast pronounced flavors, well-balanced acidity, and a satisfying body that complements local delicacies such as arepa Santandereana and cabrito.

Do not be misled by the name; the Sierra Nevada in Colombia is distinct from its American counterpart. This region is home to over 30,000 indigenous people who have preserved coffee-growing traditions passed down through generations. Considered sacred by many communities, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park is a sanctuary teeming with indigenous tribes, diverse flora and fauna including giant anteaters and jaguars. The region’s biodiversity led to its designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1979, underscoring its ecological significance.

The Sierra Nevada region houses the highest coastal peak globally, resulting in varied elevations that influence the flavors of Arabica beans grown here. Typically, coffees from this area exhibit notes of wildflower honey, blackberry, and citrus, characterized by a robust flavor profile and low acidity.

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Each bag of coffee from Juan Valdez is marked with a guarantee of origin, ensuring consumers trace the coffee’s source. This commitment extends to their new product, the PODS, designed for convenience without compromising on flavor. Comprising 100% compostable material, these pods are compatible with Keurig devices, offering a sustainable option for a quick cup of coffee. Whether you opt for the Santander for a flavorful afternoon pick-me-up or the Sierra Nevada for a bolder brew, Juan Valdez’s PODS are available online for $9.99 for a box of ten, offering a taste of Colombia at your fingertips.

Image Credit: Ilja Generalov/shutterstock

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