Updated on 02/27/2024
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!
From coffee to aguardiente! In this blog, you’ll embark on a sensory journey through the most popular Colombian drinks you must try when planning your visit to the country.
Colombian coffee is a national pride known worldwide for its exceptional flavor and quality.
Did you know that Colombia is one of the world’s leading coffee producers? With over 11 million 60 kg sacks per year, it’s the third-largest coffee producer globally, surpassed only by Vietnam and Brazil.
In the mountains of Colombia, such as the Coffee Axis, high-quality Arabica coffee beans are cultivated, offering a variety of flavors due to different altitudes and climates.
Colombian coffee is famous for its smooth taste and fruity notes. It has become a symbol of hospitality in Colombian culture, enjoyed morning, afternoon, and night.
If you’re in Colombia, you should be familiar with the two main ways to enjoy it:
- Café: Coffee with cow’s milk, typically consumed at breakfast or snacks with various types of bread. In places like Bogotá, it’s also called “perico.”
- Tinto: Concentrated black coffee served in smaller cups, sweetened with panela or sugar.
Knowing these names will save you from confusion in coffee shops.
Chocolate Santafereño is a traditional hot beverage originating from Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. Made with high-cocoa-content chocolate bars, water, and optionally spices like cloves and cinnamon.
The chocolate melts with hot water, cinnamon is added for flavor, and it’s served with pieces of fresh cheese to dip and melt. It’s typically enjoyed on cold mornings in Bogotá and during ‘onces,’ the Colombian snack time between lunch and dinner.
Aguapanela (panela water) is naturally one of the most consumed drinks in Colombian households.
True to its name, it’s usually prepared with panela dissolved in boiling water, sometimes with lemon. Panela is a natural sweetener made from sugarcane juice, providing the drink with its characteristic flavor.
This beverage is popular in rural areas, especially in cold regions. Additionally, aguapanela with lemon is the Colombian remedy of choice for the flu and cold.
Candil is a typical Colombian beverage known for its creamy consistency and mild flavor. Often called “egg punch,” it is made with eggs, milk, sugar, and panela.
Many Colombians have fond memories of enjoying this drink since childhood, especially during the December holiday season.
When alcohol like aguardiente or brandy is added, it becomes “caspiroleta.” Typically, it is slow-cooked to achieve a thick and aromatic texture.
Champús is a refreshing fermented beverage made with:
- White corn or peto
- Diced pineapple
- Lulo pulp
- Bitter orange leaves
- Aromatic herbs
Rooted in pre-Columbian times, it remains a tradition in regions like Valle del Cauca, Cauca, and Nariño.
Prepared by cooking corn until soft, combining it with a syrup of panela, cinnamon, bitter orange leaves, and preferred spices or herbs, and finally mixing it with lulo pulp and pineapple chunks.
It has a somewhat thick texture and is served cold, often found at celebrations, special events, Valluno restaurants, and commonly made at home.
Lulada is a popular citrus drink from the Valle del Cauca region, particularly in Cali, its place of origin.
Made from a Colombian fruit called lulo, it is blended with water, sugar, or condensed milk (to taste), ice, and sometimes additional citrus like lemon.
This refreshing and slightly thick beverage with lulo pieces is found throughout Valle del Cauca and coastal areas with warm climates. Lulo is a common fruit in Colombia, and its juice is often prepared in less thick forms throughout the country.
Chicha is an ancient fermented beverage passed down through generations in Latin America, especially in the Andean region, and has endured in Colombian culture.
Made from fermented corn, it can also include ingredients like:
- Panela (solid cane sugar).
The process involves cooking in water and fermenting for 10-18 days in a clay vessel to produce a sweet and slightly acidic refreshing drink. It has a strong flavor, and its fermented taste helps quench thirst.
Chicha is consumed cold, sometimes with ice, and can be found in most regions of the country, from warm to cold climates. Chorro de Quevedo in Bogotá is a popular place to enjoy this ancestral elixir.
We invite you to learn more about the culture of Colombian chicha.
Guarapo de Piña
Guarapo de Piña is a fermented tropical beverage enjoyed throughout Colombia. Made from pineapple or pineapple peels, it is crushed, mixed with water, sugar or panela, and ice, undergoing a fermentation process similar to corn chicha.
The result is a refreshing and sweet drink, best enjoyed in warm weather with plenty of ice. Easily found at street food and beverage stands, guarapo is stored in large clay jars, often with added ice.
It is a beneficial drink as pineapple peels are rich in vitamin C, aiding digestion, potentially contributing to weight loss, reducing cellulite, and supporting colon cancer prevention while complementing cancer treatments.
Masato is another beloved traditional fermented beverage enjoyed throughout Colombia, especially in regions like Cundinamarca, Santander, Tolima, among others. Similar to chicha, it is obtained through the same fermentation process.
The main difference is that it is primarily made from grains such as rice, corn, wheat, or sometimes even pineapple. Additionally, it tends to be less fermented than chicha and guarapo.
Typically served cold, people pair it with snacks like almojábanas or yuca bread, among other traditional breads.
Refajo is a local creation, perhaps one of the most Colombian drinks, resulting from the mix of beer with soda, specifically red soda or the popular “Colombiana,” the local soda.
Originating as a casual mix, it became highly popular in the 1990s to the point where it was commercially branded, known as Cola y Pola from Cervecería Bavaria.
Used for various celebrations, especially to accompany meals like barbecues or family gatherings.
Sabajón is a typical artisanal alcoholic beverage originating from the Boyacá department.
Known for its sweet and creamy flavor, it is made from aguardiente mixed with ingredients like milk, egg yolk, condensed milk, and a touch of cinnamon.
Associated with the Christmas season in Colombia, it is enjoyed throughout the year. Typically consumed cold as an appetizer, it comes in flavors like feijoa (local fruit), peach, coffee, and traditional.
Canelazo is another traditional alcoholic beverage in Colombia, primarily made with aguardiente, panela, cinnamon, lemon, and cloves. Consumed hot, especially in the mountainous regions, particularly in the Colombian Andean region.
Unlike countries like Ecuador or Peru, where it is mixed with fruits or other ingredients to soften its taste, in Colombia, it is known for its sweetness and intensity, consumed in small quantities.
Famous for its ability to combat the cold, it’s not uncommon to be offered a glass or cup of canelazo after a meal. It is also sold at local fairs and street stalls.
Jugo de Borojó
Loved by many and disliked by others, Jugo de Borojó is a beverage known for its aphrodisiac reputation, as well as its nutritional and healing properties.
Borojó is a typical fruit in Valle del Cauca and some regions of the Colombian coast, characterized by its brown and purple color. The main ingredients for preparing its juice are:
Consumed mainly for breakfast or to accompany a meal during the day.
Borojó has nutritional benefits as a source of vitamin C, and it is believed to support overall health by strengthening the nervous system, improving heart function, and counteracting cell deterioration in the body.
Beer, known as “pola” in Colombia, is highly popular and the most consumed beverage in the country, averaging around 51.5 liters per person annually.
The market offers a variety of national beers, mainly lagers, ranging from popular brands like Águila, Pilsen, Costeña, Poker, to craft options like Club Colombia, Bogotá Beer Company (BBC), and the famous 3 Cordilleras.
Beer choice is often linked to the occasion, with Poker being common in casual gatherings and more artisanal options like Club Colombia for special dinners with family or a partner.
Colombians enjoy beer at various social events regardless of the type.
Aguardiente, colloquially known as “Guaro,” is a Colombian alcoholic beverage produced by distilling sugarcane and anise. Considered the quintessential local liquor, it is present at all events, parties, and celebrations.
Similar to vodka for Russians or tequila for Mexicans, aguardiente is typically consumed neat, but some may accompany it with lemon and salt, taking a bite of lemon, adding a bit of salt, and then having a shot of aguardiente.
Foreigners often appreciate its anise flavor.
Salpicón is a refreshing beverage made from fresh tropical fruits. Served cold, it includes a mix of chopped fruits such as:
Blended in watermelon juice resembling a fruit punch. Some versions add a scoop of ice cream on top and condensed milk for extra flavor, occasionally replacing watermelon juice with orange juice or powdered soda.
Popular throughout Colombia, salpicón is enjoyed at any time, especially on hot days or as a dessert after a meal.
More about Culture and Events in Colombia
- Colombia’s 45 Best & Biggest Festivals in Detail
- Complete Colombian Slang Guide: Essential Words for Your Trip to Colombia
- The 7 Most Terrifying Legends of Colombia
- How Holy Week is Celebrated in Colombia: Unmissable Traditions and Places
- 31 Colombian Dishes and Food From All Regions You Should Try
More about Colombian culture
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- Discover 36 Traditional Breakfasts of Colombia
- The 30 Best Desserts in Colombia by Region
- 22 Colombian Fruits and Their Culinary Applications in Local Cuisine
- 16 Traditional Colombian Soups You Must Try
- Colombian Drinks: 16 Refreshing and Delicious Beverages to Try
- Colombia’s Crave-Worthy Snacks: 35 Bites You Can’t Miss