Ecuador Coffee History
Coffee was first grown in Ecuador back in 1860. Farmers established plantations in coastal areas to produce instant coffee. Coffee grown in this area today is still used for instant coffee because of the high demand locally in Ecuador, but the coffee industry is changing. As the coffee industry changes, large coastal plantations are not as popular. With the increasing demand for specialty coffee grown in higher elevations, smaller farms in more mountainous regions have become more popular. But even with the growing demand, today, Ecuador struggles to gain momentum with coffee production.
Ecuador’s Untapped Potential
Coffee production has been a struggle for Ecuadorian farmers. Even in the early 1920s, when the cacao market was threatened because of disease, coffee was still an afterthought. During the 1990s and 2000s, a pricing crisis led to many farmers leaving Ecuador to find a better life elsewhere. As a result, they left their family-owned farms abandoned and neglected. During the pricing crisis, transportation, water, and power were so expensive; it was challenging for farmers to cultivate their land. Even though the elevation in Ecuador is perfect for growing coffee, catching momentum and capitalizing on what could be a thriving industry has been a slow process. Even with all the hardship and poverty, there is still a coffee market. But, to meet the demand, Ecuador imports Robusta coffee beans from Vietnam. Importing to meet the demand undercuts local farmers and makes a difficult situation even harder to overcome. After so many years, Ecuador still has many obstacles to overcome to thrive with coffee production.
Coffee on the Rise
Ecuador’s unique climate provides for different benefits and challenges. Since it is on the equator, farms can harvest more often than other regions, requiring more worker availability. The shortage of workers creates difficulty cultivating land as often as possible, preventing the farmer from reaching the right balance between growing and harvesting. In recent years, entrance into the specialty market has created greater demand for Ecuadorian coffee. As demand grows, coffee farms can increase and become a vibrant industry.
Regions that are now growing coffee range from the Intag Valley high up in the Andes Mountains to a couple of hours outside of the capital city of Quito near the ruins of the ancient Yumbo people. Farmers continue to grow in coastal regions which most of the Robusta bean is grown. Coffee can even grow in the Galapagos Islands, although most of the coffee from that region is Robusta and is grown at lower elevations.
Now that high-quality coffee from Ecuador has become available, we felt compelled to bring it to our customers and have a small part in bolstering the coffee economy in Ecuador.
Sagebrush's Current Ecuadorian Offering
When you buy Ecuadorian coffee from Sagebrush, you get coffee from the Maputo Farm located in the La Perla, Nanegal, Pichincha. Its nearest major city is Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. It’s grown at an altitude of 1350 meters above sea level. Even though the coffee is produced at a relatively low altitude, humidity is high, with mist hovering over coffee fields in the afternoons, with cooling evenings temperatures. That variety in climate provides an ideal environment for coffee growing and gives it a unique quality. It’s also processed using the washed anaerobic environment fermented process, which is relatively a new method. Anaerobic processing ferments coffee without oxygen and is thought to produce a unique and bright flavor.