Coffee Origins: Ecuador
A small hidden country at the coast of the Pacific can surprise with more than just wonderful nature spreading over the mountain tops of the Andes.
Coffee found its way to Ecuador in the early 1860s when plantations were first established in the area of Manabí, the most popular coffee region in Ecuador to this day. From there, the coffee business spread over the country from low seashore altitudes to the hillsides.
Over the 150 years of Ecuador coffee production, the industry faced several challenges that have halved the production by 1985. Among others, the lack of credit facilities, low yields, high labour costs and challenging altitudes are the main factors that make coffee growing in Ecuador so different.
Ecuador coffee history started after the country won its independence from the Spanish colonisation, abolished slavery and gained space to finally grow as an independent unit. Its inception is in growing exceptional beans for Ecuador instant coffee, which to this day is essential in any Ecuadorian household.
Ecuador holds 19th place as a world coffee producer, from which only 60% is Arabica and 40% Robusta. In the region of Manabí, the coffee is grown at altitudes of 300-700m, basically grown at the seashores. This makes coffee production more efficient, yet the quality of the Arabica coffee doesn't fully rip through.
A more potent area for the taste range is Zamora Chinchipe in the southern part of the country where coffee grows in the altitudes of 1000-1800m. This lets the Arabica beans develop significant sweetness and bright acidity with the hints of berries.
Due to the challenges that the coffee industry faces in Ecuador, the ownership of the farms comes over to small family businesses and local farmers. This assures that most of the Ecuador coffee is organic and carries a family carefulness and affection within each batch.
The most notable coffee plantations in Ecuador
The altitudes in which Ecuadorian coffee is being grown are so different from region to region. That is one of the reasons why Robusta is so easily grown here. Yet the most treasured Arabica varieties, like Typica or Bourbon varieties, have found their way to the hillsides of the Andes as well.
The different altitudes of Ecuador coffee farms provided the space for differentiating Ecuador coffee flavour profiles. The higher altitudes and cooler climate allow for the coffee beans to develop rich bright flavours. From sweeter to berry flavours, Ecuador coffee beans have a huge potential to be the best tasting one in the world.
While in the lower altitudes by the coast the rainfall and humidity account for ideal growth on top of efficient farming.
Ecuadorian coffee is most naturally processed, still a dominant technique in the country, however, the washed Robusta is on the increase.
The most famous Ecuador coffee farms can be found in the regions of Manabí, Loja, Zamora Chinchipe, Intag and Zaruma in the El Oro region. Each of these has its significant farming methods, estates, and allowed to develop different Ecuador coffee flavours.
Ecuador Loja coffee belongs to the country’s best ones, mainly because of the altitudes and dry cool climate this region offers. Together with El Oro, local farms are spread out in the altitudes from 500-1800m, allowing for the coffee to grow in ideal conditions.
No far away is the Yunguilla Valley, the home of our very best Ecuador Hacienda Pillcocaja coffee. Grown in altitudes above 1600m and a specific micro-climate unique for the area, the Pill Caja coffee is watered by the natural springs from the Andes, grown under the natural shades of the trees and planted in the soil that has been resting for over 70 years.
All these attributes combine in coffee beans that spring a unique Ecuador coffee flavour profile mixing sweet flavours with citrus fruits.
Another unique region that carries similar qualities is the Ecuador Pichincha coffee region surrounding the capital Quito. With its volcanic soil from the slopes of Pichincha Volcano and high altitudes, this region provides ideal conditions for coffee growth.
It is impossible not to mention The Galapágos, a famous destination of all nature-lovers. But just as well, The Galapágos has surprisingly good coffee that is grown on rich volcanic soil, under cool winds from the ocean. No wonder this region is prefered by big brands like Starbucks.
Frequently asked questions about Ecuador coffee
Does Ecuador have a good coffee?
Everyone is looking for different qualities in coffee. Some prefer more acidic coffee, some people are looking for sweet or berry flavours, some are simply searching for that espresso with a kick.
Ecuador coffee notes differ rapidly based on the climate of the estate and the altitudes and the processing. But at the end of the day, that final cup is influenced by so many factors that are out of control of the coffee origin.
But in general, it is safe to say that Ecuador coffee beans are exceptional. Grown on small local farms, this organic coffee is becoming wildly popular around the world.
Is Ecuador coffee organic?
Grown under the shade of native trees, watered by natural springs from the Andes and processed on small family farms, Ecuador coffee screams organic! Since the production halved in the 1980s, which is a shame but amounted to some benefits, Ecuador coffee production scaled down and transferred over to the small farmers.
In its new form, it was easier to overlook the production. Natural processing, still the most common coffee processing in Ecuador, adds to this quality, as it is the most natural practice of drying coffee beans. It ties to regions that have limited infrastructure, therefore significant for regions where coffee is grown on local farms in small batches, rather than mass-produced.
There are several Ecuador coffee brands that distribute Ecuador organic coffee worldwide.