What is Castillo?

Castillo or "Coffee Castles" according to me, is maybe the most popular coffee variety in Colombia. It was part of an effort to develop plants resistant to rust, flavorful and yielding as many cherries as possible. The bean is at the center of Colombia's plan to get rid of coffee rust. Even if it still hasn't work, and won't until a major innovation happens. The Castle has tremendously helped slow down the destructive effect of the destructive fungi.

For now on our site and in 99% of places you will see Castillo being described as one specie. But there is more than one Castillo variety. There is the national Castillo and regional Castillos:

  • Castillo Naranjal in the regions of Caldas, Quindío, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca
  • Castillo El Rosario in Antioquia, Caldas and Risaralda.
  • Castillo Paraguaicito in Quindío and Valle del Cauca.
  • Castillo La Trinidad in Tolima.
  • Castillo Pueblo Bello in the North of the country in Magdalena, Cesar, La Guajira and Norte de Santander.
  • Castillo Santa Bárbara in Cundinamarca and Boyacá.
  • Castillo El Tambo in Cauca, Nariño, Huila, Tolima and Valle del Cauca.

When developing these varieties Cenicafe displayed that they had to have the following characteristics:

  • Well adapted to Colombian lands
  • Germination percentage above 90% in controlled environmentsƒƒ
  • Good yieldsƒƒ
  • Larger bean size
  • Good cup profile
  • Rust resistance and tolerance to Coffee Berry Disease

In our experience it definitely ticks all the boxes. When it comes to cupping we noticed that in 2023 Colombia land of diversity, out of the 30 best coffees 10 were pure Castillo or blended Castillo in. That is better than Colombia for instance.

There is a lot of snobbishness around Castillo, I've regularly heard "I would not pay X dollars per kilo just for some Castillo". I understand these statement but it does make me a bit sad. If a coffee is great it should be the only thing that matters. But we like rarity, we prefer paying more money for rarer varieties even if the coffee is not as good. I will take any time of day a well processed Castillo over a rushed Geisha.

The history of Castillo

Castillo varieties were developed in the context of the of a genetic improvement program started in 1968 by Cenicafe.

Sources (where all our knowledge comes from)

  • https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjkppyogtSEAxVDnIQIHS7uCO8QFnoECAwQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cenicafe.org%2Fes%2Fpublications%2Favt0337.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2_WBT7IUaWxtoteCM6JTCX&opi=89978449