At the time I still worked for Starbucks and had become accustomed to the slightly sweet, yet thick taste of the Starbucks blonde roast coffee and espresso.
Since coming to Colombia, however, I’ve moved on a bit. After all, with the many high-quality bags of beans at the supermarket, it was hard not to.
So, do you want to learn about homemade coffee in Medellin? Keep reading this guide for everything you need to know!
Homemade Brewing Methods in Colombia
Most coffee sold to Americans is actually burnt, so Americans are accustomed to an earthy, chocolate-like, and smokey flavored coffee. But, in Colombia, coffee tends to have very different flavor profiles.
My personal experience in Medellin is that most people like instant coffee or French Press in Colombia.
French press coffee uses semi-course coffee grinds that you add to a teapot-like container. But, there is a press at the top that you use to press down the grinds after the coffee has steeped for several minutes in boiling water.
As for myself, I use an Italian-style stovetop espresso percolator. I like this brewer because I’m usually making coffee just for myself and I only have a large french press so much of my coffee grinds would go to waste.
Best Supermarkets in Medellin for Coffee
If you’re staying at Soul Lifestyle hotel, you are right next door to a local Carulla. These are the Colombian version of Wholefoods or Trader Joe’s. And, they have a whole slew of coffee varieties!
At Carulla you can get almost any type of coffee in any price range. Or, if you like Starbucks coffee or other American brands from back home, you can find them here too!
Some other stores where you can find bags of ground coffee or whole beans include:
Carulla: best overall variety of coffees and specialty coffees
Olímpica: your average supermarket
Éxito: the Colombian version of Walmart, with everything from home goods to coffee
Niche coffee shops: all over Medellin you will find niche coffee shops with artisan bagged take-home coffee
Again, my personal recommendation is to go to Carulla. But, if you want to branch out a bit, any of the other stores will do!
Standard vs. Specialty Coffee
Colombia traditionally exported almost all of its high-quality coffee overseas. In recent years this has changed, however. Today, you can find anything from mediocre to outstanding beans in Colombia.
So, how do you know whether you’re getting a high-quality coffee or not? Well, the best illustration of the quality is the rank it commonly receives on the global market. This rank is known as the Cupping Score, which is a score assigned by coffee tasters on a scale of one to 100.
Beans seldom get a ranking of one, since this is such a low score no one would ever try to sell it. And, a score of 100 is not unheard of but is extremely rare and expensive.
To give you an idea of how the ranking works, here’s a brief breakdown:
Beans are ranked based on taste, scent, fragrance, acidity, and the body of the drink
After the quality of the bean is determined they are given a sale price
The sale price is reflected by the score between 1-100 given by the tasters
Most coffee sold in America ranks between 50 and 90. In Colombia, you can find anything ranging from a 40 to a 90.
My Personal Favorite Colombian Coffee Brands
Now that you’ve got a solid grasp on Colombian coffee preparation and where to buy your beans, let’s talk about my personal favorite brands. Here are the best coffee brands I’ve come across during my stay.
My absolute favorite brand to get for my stay in Medellin is D’Origen. In fact, the first time I tried this coffee was at the Soul Lifestyle hotel. As a welcome gift, they left a small bag of this coffee as a sample.
The flavor is fresh and pleasant. There are light, medium, and dark roasts and each has a slightly different flavor profile.
Just make sure you are careful what method you use to make it if you buy it pre-ground.
My personal experience has been that it comes in a French press grind, rather than for drip machines. If you use this coffee in a typical American machine, the grinds may not drain correctly as it brews and this can cause the machine to overflow.
Juan Valdez is a national chain coffee shop in Colombia. It is not an overstatement to say that this is Colombia’s Starbucks (even though they have Starbucks too).
I like Juan Valdez for the usual, familiar flavor it has. It compares pretty well to Starbucks coffee.
Although Starbucks has its own unique flavor profiles, if you want a local chain Colombian brand with similar quality, Juan Valdez is worth trying.
Matiz is a pleasant brand that is of slightly higher quality than Juan Valdez. It’s perfect for making a traditional drip coffee, and it’s not stale or burnt in flavor.
In my opinion, the dark roast is the closest I’ve had to the Illy espresso roast. So, it’s my favorite when I use my Italian stovetop percolator. The light roast is very light and doesn’t taste acidic at all. It makes the best cold brew!
Definitely give this brand a try if you’re a fan of Italian-style coffee!
Oma and Modelo Oro
Neither of these brands is among my top ten favorites. But, I feel they should be discussed here because they taste very similar to American coffee.
I’m not a fan of the dark, ashen-flavored coffee served at most diners and gas stations across the United States. But, the truth is this is the flavor most people associate with coffee, so it can be a familiar flavor.
Oma and Modelo Oro both have this kind of flavor. So, if you’re a fan of these types of tastes, one of these bags of beans might not be a bad pick.
Best Small Shops for Artisan Coffee
Of course, there are those of us who need that extra special cup of coffee once in a while. For this, you should visit the small coffee shops which dot the city of Medellin!
My top recommendations are Noir Cafe and Pergamino Cafe. Each of these cafes offers coffee in-house or for you to take home.
For the darkest coffee, I recommend Noir Cafe. For the most balanced and American-friendly, I recommend Pergamino Cafe (they even have bagged cold brew to take home!).
If you plan to stay at Soul Lifestyle or the Marquee, you’re never far from either of these shops.
Try Making Your Own Homemade Coffee in Medellín!
In summary, shopping for your coffee in Colombia is very much like shopping back home. Have fun exploring the different coffee varieties and trying out something new!
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