The Coffee Situation in Ecuador

While not as well known for its coffee production as neighboring Columbia, the country of Ecuador is one of only 15 in the world that grows and exports both Arabica and Robusta coffee, the two main species of coffee produced and consumed in the world. Due to its exceptional biodiversity, different “coffee cultures” can be grown in different regions throughout the country, including the Galapagos Islands.

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Despite producing it in abundance, coffee is not an extremely popular beverage within the country. When coffee is enjoyed in Ecuador, it tends to be consumed either as instant (yuck!) or as espresso. Traditional American drip coffee (sometimes referred to as tinto) is virtually nonexistent outside of the larger cities.

Most of the pre-ground coffee sold here is typically espresso grind, which is to say that it is very fine. As a result, if you buy coffee in Ecuador, you will probably be better off buying whole bean and grinding it yourself, especially if you are planning on using a french press. Personally, we like Cafe Intag coffee, though if you can’t find that, Cubanito (available in most supermarkets) will do in a pinch.

Regarding cafes, the Colombian chain Juan Valdez is quite good, though you only tend to find them in the bigger cities. They are fairly similar to Starbucks in terms of their offerings and accent many of their drinks with a delicious whipped cream that actually tastes homemade.

Regardless of where you go, with the exception of an americano, most of the coffee drinks you will find are going to be espresso and cream-based. My personal favorite is equal parts espresso and condensed milk, which some places call a Cafe Havana or a Bombon… be sure to try one the next time you are strolling through Quito.

  1. In Quito, there is a third type of coffee and it’s pretty tasty:

    “The coffee is uniquely Quiteño – cups of hot milk or hot water are brought to the table where a small cruet holding a liquid looking something like balsamic vinegar is used to flavor your beverage. It’s actually essence of coffee, thick and dark like syrup. You can make your morning cup of joe as strong or as weak as you like.” –

      • Seems thicker than regular brewed coffee. I need to ask how they make it because it’s really a practical way to get a decent cup of coffee using just got water. And it tastes much better than the Nescafe you find in many places.

  2. Next time you’re in Quito, visit Cafe Aguila de Oro, which is located just behind the presidential palace. They’ve got fresh roasted beans for $6 a pound – light, medium, or dark roast. My favorite coffee in this country outside of Loja.

So, What Do You Think?