Harvest: September–December, March–May
Elevation: 1,200–2,000 metres (3,900–6,600 feet) above sea level
Rainfall: 1,500–3,500 millimetres (59–138 inches)
Temperature: 16°C–24°C (61°F–75°F)
The tiny department of Quindío lies at the heart of the Eje Cafetero, the traditional centre of Colombian coffee production. Located on the western side of the central cordillera of the Andes, the department has ancient volcanic soils and excellent conditions for growing coffee.
Coffee is grown in nearly every part of the department; the only exception is along the eastern edge, where the peaks of the cordillera are too high for coffee to grow. Coffee is harvested year-round, with the peak of the harvest taking place from March–May in the south of the department and from September–December in the north.
Coffee arrived in the department during the nineteenth century, along with colonists from Antioquia. Settlers initially came to the region in search of gold but later began to claim agricultural land and set up coffee and sugarcane plantations.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Quindío, together with Risaralda, was made part of the newly created department of Caldas. Caldas quickly became Colombia’s largest coffee producer, and most of Caldas’s production came from the south of the department — the lands that would later become Risaralda and Quindío (Palacios 2009).
Quindío became a separate department in 1966, at which point it was producing the highest yields in all Colombia — around 14 bags per hectare, compared with the national average of 9 bags per hectare (Palacios 2009). Even today, it has one of the highest planting densities in Colombia, with nearly 6,000 plants per hectare (Nunez 2019) and it has the most highly technified production in the country.