Ecuador: Ama la vida is the government’s tourist slogan and translates as Ecuador: love life. Perhaps an overused phrase, but in my opinion, an accurate description of the people and culture. Ecuador is a friendly and welcoming place and while my trip was brief, I quickly became aware of the warmth of the people of Ecuador and their passion for enjoying life.
Little is known about Ecuadorian coffee due to the scarcity of it. However, some amazing cup profiles can be found in its rich terroir and it also offers some solid commercial coffees that could act as good blenders. In the specialty world Loja gains all the plaudits but this is not the only region in the country which produces top quality coffee. Loja is bordered on either side by El Oro & Zamora-Chinchipe, there is Carchi which borders Nariño, Colombia in the north-western part of the country, Pichincha which surrounds Quito, Manabí to the west, and of course, the infamous Galapagos islands. Although Manabí is better known for its commercial coffees and doesn’t have the altitude of the other regions, if you look hard enough you can find some specialty coffees of note.
The harvest for most of the coffee producing regions starts end of May/early June and winds up in September. The two exceptions are Carchi, which has two crops like its neighbour Nariño; and the Galapagos islands, which also has two harvests.
There are three main ports in the country: Guayaquil, Manta and Esmeraldas. Guayaquil is the main port and the most populous city in the country. The majority of the dry mills are located in Loja, Guyaquil & Quito.
A salient fact about Ecuador is that most of its coffee is naturally processed. Don’t get too excited though because the vast majority of these naturals are lower quality arabicas destined for instant coffee. Ecuador is in fact the 4th biggest exporter of instant coffee in the world and thus a great deal of its commercial coffees goes to the instant manufacturers. However, to focus on this aspect would do the other regions a great disservice. As the results of the cupping competitions show, quality is on the up and focus on post harvest processing is translating into better cup profiles.