Ecuador is a country with more biodiversity per square kilometer than any other nation. Ecuador coffee is internationally known for its delicate flavor and high quality.
What I find amazing about Ecuador coffee farmers is how they challenge the rules of coffee cultivation. Experts say good coffee must grow at altitude. To put that into perspective, the best coffees grow at about 3,500 feet in altitude to over 6,000 feet.
Well, the good folks of Ecuador don’t abide by this credence. Instead, they grow coffee in the most unlikely places:
- Along the Andes
- Pockets throughout the coast
- Low lying Amazon Basin
- Galapagos Islands
Let’s take a look at the history of coffee in this South American country. This coffee is blessed by the presence of the Andes mountain range. Also, it is the single most important factor in the quality of Ecuadorian coffee.
History Of Coffee In Ecuador
This region has a strong tradition of farming. Also, Ecuadorian farmers have learned to be independent for centuries now. The main crops cultivated for their own consumption are:
As a matter of fact, Ecuador’s most important export crop is the banana. This particular crop grows all year round and in multitude. No wonder Ecuador is one of the most important banana exporters in the world.
However, when it comes to coffee, Ecuadorian farmers know what they’re doing. Coffee grown in this country is largely organic. This is mainly because they lack money for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Also, it is of the arabica variety, for the most part.
Clearly, coffee has been an important crop for decades. The livelihood of about half a million people depends on it. Unfortunately, the country’s economic and financial problems haven’t given the coffee industry enough space to grow.
Ecuador exported an estimated:
- 24,000 bags of coffee beans (Arabica and Robusta)
- 480,000 bags of soluble (instant coffee) coffee (about 95 percent of total exports)
- Less than 1,000 bags of roasted ground coffee
Colombia, France, and the United States were Ecuador’s top three export markets in CY 2019.
Top Three Ecuador Coffee Brands
Want to experience the full flavor and aroma of authentic coffee from Ecuador? I suggest you try the following:
Z Beans – Ecuadorian Coffee
This brand is grown at very high altitudes. The owner is named Milton Rivadeneira. Milton’s plantation is located in Ibarra, Ecuador. The farm sits at 7,000 feet in altitude. Also, his plantation is filled with healthy Arabica coffee plants and exotic Ecuadorian fruits, like Pitajaya!
Z-Beans have one of the lowest acidities you could ever ask for in a coffee. With that, it still has a rich, sophisticated flavor profile. Also, the farms are organic, shade-grown, and roasted by experienced professionals. All of these factors make this coffee one of the most premium of all Ecuadorian coffees.
Not only is this coffee smooth, but it also has a sweet milk chocolate flavor note. Truly an exceptional, unique coffee worth drinking.
Café del Cerro – Zaruma, Ecuador
This is traditional high-performance roasted and ground premium coffee. It is sure to transport you to the heights of the forests of Ecuador. It has a nice, flavorful roast, not burned or bitter. Also, the aroma is absolutely amazing.
Cafe del Cerro is 100% original. Arabica coffee comes from the Zaruma-Ecuadorian region. This coffee is grown under the shade trees. It certainly benefits from Ecuador’s perfect climatic conditions. Also, it is allowed to develop a very complex flavor slowly. And, it is perfect for brewing with a Moka pot or as espresso.
Gran Ecuador – Premium Ground Coffee
This is traditional high-performance roasted and ground premium coffee. Also, it is sure to transport you to the heights of the forests of Ecuador. When I say this is the real deal, this is authentic Ecuadorian coffee.
This premium quality Ecuadorian coffee was grown at a high altitude environment. These coffee farmers use organic farming methods and shield crops from the harsh sun using fruit trees. Also, this coffee has a pronounced fruit like taste and aroma. Smelling or drinking this coffee feels fresh and natural, and it smells like apple, lemon, and orange.
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Why Buy Coffee From Ecuador?
Indigenous people do coffee farming. Plantations that are used for local consumption are treated with the utmost care. Consequently, this is why Ecuadorian coffee has such a good reputation. They do not have a big presence in the global market. However, the country still manages to have one of the most coveted coffees in the world.
What’s the best thing about coffee from this country?
The fact that it’s coffee is grown in the Andes mountain range. This is a mountain range that expands all over South America. Also, it has the ideal conditions for coffee growing. The climate, soil, and overall environment are a coffee haven. Besides, coffee grown here is sure to have a full, well-developed flavor.
According to USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service, “Farmers in the calendar year 2019 were paid on average:
- $220 per 60 kg bag of special quality Arabica coffee
- $118 for commercial quality
- Robusta coffee prices averaged $58.55 per 60 kg bag
Overall, Robusta coffee prices are less volatile than Arabica, but the prices continue to decline.”
The government has made efforts to support coffee growers. However, the issues below have driven an increase in Ecuador’s production of Arabica coffee.
- High international prices
- Unsatisfied global and domestic demand for specialty coffees from exotic destinations
In recent years, specialty coffee growers have done much better financially. Also, they are known to produce high-quality beans. These beans receive much better prices than traditional coffee growers. Also, prices for specialty coffees are negotiated with little or no consideration of international coffee prices.
Where Coffee Is Grown
Specialty coffees are primarily grown in the Ecuadorian provinces of:
Coffee for the bulk commodities market is produced in the coastal and rain forest regions of Ecuador. Also, fifty percent of coffee production occurs in Ecuador’s coastal provinces. The province of Manabí accounts for 25 percent of total production.
The Amazon and the Sierra (highland) areas account for 30 percent of Ecuador’s total coffee production. Robusta coffee is planted in the Amazon, while Arabica coffee is cultivated along the coast and the high lands. Also, there are about 60,000 coffee farmers nationwide that need your support.
Most of the coffee is grown on small farms. As a result, there isn’t a well-established flavor profile for Ecuadorian coffee. It will vary greatly depending on the source.
However, you can be sure that Ecuadorian coffee will be medium-bodied, low in acidity, and well balanced. This is all thanks to the near-perfect conditions of the Andes. Finally, combine that with the 100% organic treatment that coffee gets from Ecuadorian farmers.
Ecuadorian Coffee Culture
Surprisingly, coffee farmers are not known to drink coffee. Most farmers see the crop as something for the US or foreigners, in general. So, there’s never been a well-established tradition of coffee drinking, nor a culture for drinking coffee.
You can, however, find coffee shops in Ecuador’s big cities. Cities like Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, and Santo Domingo are no different than any other big city. People love espresso, and coffee is a big part of social life in the cities.
Also, you can even find popular coffee shops in Ecuador’s capital city, like Starbucks. Hipster coffee shops are everywhere like you could find in New York, Los Angeles, or any other big city!