Coffee from Ecuador

Blog

What comes to mind first when you think about good coffee? Most likely Brazil, or Colombia, and while they definitely earned their place, there are also a number of countries that are quickly catching up. Among them, we also find Ecuador, a country with one of the most diverse ecosystems, and therefore coffee. It is grown at the feet of the Andes mountains, where the soil is low and fertile. One of the many ways to tell apart Ecuadorian coffee from the rest is the specific sweet, fruity, and delicate floral notes.

A short history

The story of Ecuadorian coffee begins in the 1860s in the Manabí Province. The people quickly realized how profitable the coffee crop can be, so they fully took advantage of it. Everything went so smoothly and developed so steadily that by the 1950s coffee became one of the main exports and by the 1980s the second most valuable crop. This quick rise could not prepare the Ecuador people for what was to come.

Sadly, an economic crisis in the 1990s provoked by a global price crash and doubled by an Ecuadorian economic crisis in the early 2000s made coffee production take a sharp downturn. Even though it seemed like there was no going back to the golden era, today Ecuador can proudly say that it is one of the only 15 countries to produce both Arabica and Robusta, while growing steadily on the market.

This is possible thanks to the rehabilitation of old plantations and the replacement of the aged low-yield trees. The whole Ecuadorian coffee industry is made up of many small, family-owned farms. Therefore, the best way to understand this particular coffee culture is to look into the life of one.

Cafe Merino Lugmapata

This farm can be found in Pallatanga, in the Chimborazo Province, located a few hours away from the capital, Quito. That is also the region that hosts the highest mountain, Chimborazo which is why the farm sits at an altitude between 1.800 and 2.000 feet.

 It properly entered the coffee market in 2012, while using traditional farming practices, like hand picking and washing and natural products. These efforts produced a cleaner coffee that ultimately won first place at the Golden Cup cupping competition in 2017 and became Ecuador’s best coffee. Surprisingly enough, only 10% of it is sold in the country, while the other 90% is exported, mainly to the USA and South Korea. The small percent that remains within the Ecuadorian borders is used to help as many specialty coffee shops come to life.

 For the people working here, the busiest time of the year is from June through September, when the harvest takes place. This implies many steps, from controlling the harvest to irrigation, washing, fermentation, drying, and peeling the coffee beans.

When all of these processes are completed to perfection, that is when the coffee has the highest quality. Of course, a crucial role is also played by the varieties that are grown: Sarchimor, Sidra, Pache, and Typica. They all offer an excellent quality, each having its own unique characteristics. For example, Sarchimor is resistant to pests and rust, Sidra has a sweet flavor profile, Pache can be planted in a more compact footprint, and Typica has a very complex combination of traits.

It may seem like having an industry built solely on small, family-owned farms can be an unreliable and unpredictable structure, but it turns out that this kind of strategy is crucial for creating a specialty coffee reputation for a country, which can be the key in many cases. Also, this type of farming ensures a greener future, simply because people take more care of their water and air, and choose to only use natural techniques and products.

Ecuador teaches us a very important lesson about perseverance and how crucial it is to have faith in your own people. Even when it looked like the future of the coffee industry was ruined, farms like the Cafe Merino Lugmapata realized that they are the ones controlling their own destinies, and chose to do something about it. They were raised from the ashes and never lost faith in the process that brought them to the top in the first place.

 This energy definitely transfers to their coffee, which brings a sudden hopeful feeling as soon as you taste it. Not only this, but the light, and at the same time powerful, aroma will charm your senses. Definitely, something you would not want to miss!