Coffee is one of the most widely consumed hot beverages all over the world. Its consumption is experiencing a third wave, which is characterized by a market that demands fine quality coffee. This third wave has also become an opportunity to tourism entrepreneurs and coffee enthusiasts into the so-called coffee tourism.
Coffee tourism is described as experiences related to consuming the coffee history, traditions, products, and culture of a destination (Jolliffe, 2010). The demand for this type of tourism is growing among coffee enthusiasts. Some of these tourism experiences are visits to coffee farms or cultivation trails, learning opportunities about the coffee culture through tasting events, or enjoying freshly roasted coffee in an iconic coffee shop of the destination.
When people think of coffee tourism destinations in South America, they usually think of Brazil or Colombia, and for valid reasons. Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, and Colombia is the third one after Vietnam. People fail to realize that those affiliated with the fine quality coffee industry know that Ecuador is a hidden gem for coffee lovers because it offers visitors more possibilities to taste local premium quality coffee than other regions. For instance, tourists looking for premium coffee in Colombia have likely experienced the paradox concerning Colombian coffee. Most of the premium coffee produced in this country is exported, leaving only the poorest beans for domestic consumption. That is not the situation in Ecuador, where it is easy to find coffee shops featuring Ecuadorian coffee.
Although its relatively small size, Ecuador is considered one of the most biodiverse countries globally, which gives a perfect home for both arabica and robusta coffee plants. Ecuador is one of only 15 countries that both grow and export these two varieties of coffee. Ecuador’s high biodiversity is mainly due to its unique geography. Located right on the equator and intersected by the Andes mountains range, Ecuador has diverse ecosystems with various temperatures and rainfall patterns. This geography supports perfect ecosystems where coffee can be grown. Indeed, coffee is often planted alongside other tropical crops, which also affects the taste of the produced coffee. Thanks to its rich biodiversity, Ecuador can offer the most complex and diverse coffee, with high acidity, body, and a complex aroma.
The quality of its coffee and the enthusiasm of its local coffee entrepreneurs have put Ecuador on the travel list of coffee lovers, especially those in North America. Some flights from United States take about 5 hours to arrive to one of the 2 international airports in Ecuador (Quito and Guayaquil). Tourists can explore this country’s rich cultural and natural diversity while enjoying a cup of fine quality coffee grown in this country. From an exclusive coffee shop in downtown Quito to a small shop in the rainforest, tourists can taste their coffee in the most peaceful environment.
Small scale farmers are opening their farms for tourism and providing Cherry to Cup Experiences on site. The hosts, expert coffee growers, will introduce tourists to the entire process of coffee flotation, pulping, fermentation, natural drying, threshing, and even the packaging of the final product. Some of the regions that are becoming hot spots for Cherry to Cup Experiences in Ecuador are: Mindo, Intag, Nanegal, Loja, Manabí, and Carchi.
If you are planning to visit Quito, I recommend explore these two coffee destinations that are very close to Quito (less than two hours).
Finca Casa Frajares, located just outside of Quito’s bustling city in Nanegalito near the steep Andean-Choco mountains.
Mindo Coffee House, a perfect place for coffee lovers who also love birdwatching and ecotourism.
Finally, if you want to pair your coffee with some local foods, do not look for croissants or bagels. Instead, look for any of the following options. If you are in Quito or another town in the Sierra region, try humitas, a prehispanic dish made with corn. If you are in Guayaquil or another coastal town, you have to try bolon, mashed green plantain balls stuffed with cheese.
Well, I hope that after reading this blog, you put Ecuador on your travel bucket list or at least get some Ecuadorian coffee on your next trip to the store.
Thanks for reading and sharing,