Colombia has a reputation for being one of the happiest countries in the world (it is regularly Number 1 in the annual WIN/Gallup International Association survey), a reputation which stands in stark contrast to its often negative global image. But what is the secret to Colombia’s happiness? While there are surely many diverse factors accounting for this joy, Colombian coffee is most definitely part of the equation.
Colombian coffee is generally known as some of the best in the world. Unfortunately, this amazing reputation means that the very best Colombian beans usually end up outside the country, exported to feed the growing market for speciality coffee around the world. However, the majority of Colombian departments – at least 21 of the 32 regions grow coffee commercially – cultivate the magical red beans, which are an intrinsic aspect of Colombian culture and national identity, even if most Colombians sadly don’t get to drink the really good stuff.
And it is this coffee culture that plays such a strong role in Colombian national happiness. Unlike in many Western countries where coffee is seen as a much more functional drink designed to stimulate and give energy, in Colombia, the drink has very different connotations. Coffee has taken on a much more sociable role in society, and it is very common for Colombians to meet up with friends and family over a cup of coffee. In rural areas, older people whiling away the hours chatting over cups of coffee, just like the two old-timers in the photo below, is a frequent activity. Even in a work environment, the role of coffee is distinct; while in Europe or North America it may be a drink to grab quickly on the way into the office, in Colombia, it’s much more likely to be the focus of breaks and meetings. It’s not that this difference is necessarily the key to happiness, but coffee greases the wheels of Colombian social interaction and is an essential element of the sociable society which Colombians enjoy, making it one of the keys to their enviable happiness.
In a world where people are increasingly being diagnosed with illnesses such as depression and social anxiety, a world where symptoms of alienation and isolation are increasingly afflicting the young and old alike, coffee culture in Colombia is a simple antidote to the root causes of these afflictions. It might seem like an overly simple solution, but the social interactions created by this coffee culture serve to grow and strengthen human relationships. In Colombia, coffee is clearly no mere drink.
In many ways, the role of coffee in Colombian culture is somewhat similar to that of tea in the United Kingdom. Coffee in Colombia is much more than simply a hot drink; it is an important aspect of national identity. It brings people together, creates connections and friendships, has become an important symbol of Colombian identity, and even provides for tens of thousands of livelihoods throughout the country. Although coffee is one of the single most popular beverages on the planet, in Colombia, it means something more: coffee might well be one of the keys to Colombia’s famous happiness.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.