Café de Ecuador

Ecuador Stats

  • Population: 16,140,000
  • Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Shuar
  • Capital City: Quito
  • Largest City: Guayaquil
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Rainy Season: January to April
  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Geographical Regions: Coast, Sierra (Highlands), Jungle (Amazon Basin), Galapagos Island
  • GDP per Capita: $6,600 USD

Ecuador´s Coffee

  • Coffee was first harvested in 1860 in the province of Manabí.
  • Total Coffee Exported: 921,000 bags (60 kilos per bag)
  • Arabica Coffee Exported, not dedicated to the soluble industry (Highland and Lowland): 64,000 bags (60 kilos per bag) or 7% of total coffee exports
  • Varietals: 60% Arabica, 40% Robusta
  • Arabica Coffee Harvest Season: May to September
  • Arabica Coffee Exportations: September to January
  • Top Countries that import Soluble Coffee: Germany, Russia, Poland, Mexico, Ukraine
  • Top Countries that import Arabica Coffee (Highland and Lowland): USA, Cuba, Germany, Japan, Canada, Sweden.

Why so little Specialty Coffee?

During the 1990´s the price of coffee dipped to an all time low, many abandoned coffee for other crops. The industrialized coffee industry (instant coffee) was seen as more economically viable and since 2000 this industry has far outpaced specialty coffee.

  • Ecuador has become a major exporter of industrialized coffee to Europe and other countries in Latin America.
  • Arable land for specialty coffee production in Ecuador is limited when compared to Colombia and Peru. The majority of Ecuador´s highlands (Andes Mountains) are too high up and steep too fast towards the coast for the ideal mountain grown coffee elevation of 4000 to 7000 feet above sea level.
  • After an economic collapse in 2000 many young coffee producers immigrated to the US and Spain.  This left a deficit of labor to harvest and tend to coffee farms.
  • Ecuador´s economy has since recovered, however, higher labor costs than their neighboring countries means less people are attracted to agricultural work.
  • Due to small volume of specialty coffee exports there are very few dry mills in Ecuador equipped to properly grade export-quality coffee.

Ecuador exports out less than 50 containers (37500 pounds per container) of specialty coffee per year versus Colombia´s 32,000 containers.  Importing specialty coffee from Ecuador can be a logistical nightmare.

There is hope for Specialty Coffee in Ecuador

Climate change has negatively affected many specialty coffee producing nations, especially in Central America, however, our highlands are much higher and this has caused more ideal land available here in Ecuador.  Many young coffee farms have popped up in areas where, due to elevation, it was once impossible to grow coffee.

Furthermore our Ministry of Agriculture (MAGAP) has been actively promoting more coffee production, giving out free coffee plants and much more.

And lastly, interest by specialty coffee roasters and importers in consumption countries as of 2010 have created a niche for producers with a true passion in providing an excellent coffee harvest.

These factors combined have caused a resurgence of Ecuador´s specialty coffee industry.  However, these next few years will be crucial in determining if Ecuador will become a specialty coffee powerhouse or once again see its producers abandon their farms for more lucrative ventures.

Most importantly we are seeking out a larger market for our product.  As long as there is a demand, specialty coffee producers will work hard to provide the supply.  Café Ñucallacta is committed to creating more market for specialty coffee producers in Ecuador.

Specialty Coffee Regions

Because there is very little offering of Ecuadorian specialty coffee in countries of consumption, there is a certain mystery surrounding this origin.  Ecuadorian coffee is unique and interesting to any coffee connoisseur and for the most part these coffees have either a distinct raw sugarcane or a sweet lime profile with light to medium body.  Similar to Colombian and Peruvian coffee, this coffee is a balance cup.  Many importers and roasters have agreed that there is potential to offer 90+ point coffees from almost any mountainous micro-region in Ecuador.  See map below for a breakdown of Ecuador´s specialty coffee regions:

SOUTHERN ECUADOR

Loja: Longest specialty coffee tradition in Ecuador.  Many producers have preserved the typica varietal (called criollo here in Ecuador) and it´s desired cupping profile.  Genetically, Loja is a powerhouse for specialty coffee in Ecuador and year after year most of the top ten coffees in our Taza Dorada competition come from this province.

Zamora Chinchipe: Young farms that use a lot of yellow bourbon and caturra due to wet climate.  These producers have learned from Lojano farmers, however, the climate and different varietals give these coffees unique and exotic flavor profiles.

El Oro: Lower in elevation and volumes, this province has a strong domestic reputation, but few micolots internationally.

CENTRAL ECUADOR

Azuay, Chimborazo, Bolivar: Very new to specialty coffee, in 2016 Azuay won 2nd place and Chimborazo won 3rd place in Ecuador´s Taza Dorada competition.  Most producers in these regions do not practice proper post harvest processes and therefore this region is still developing.

NORTHERN ECUADOR

Pichincha: Adolescent farms, with mainly first generation producers who have structured their crops specifically for the specialty coffee industry.  Many very interesting microlots with higher price tags than in Southern Ecuador.

Imbabura: Oldest specialty coffee producers in Northern Ecuador, these producers put an emphasis in fair trade and organic certifications.  Solid specialty coffee, with interesting sweet lime profile.

Carchi: Heavily influenced by Colombia due to proximity.  Very similar hybrid varietals and cupping profile to Colombian coffee.