For that matter, why should anyone buy coffee in Ecuador? That’s another good question. Ecuador is a coffee producing country, but when was the last time you saw any coffee from there, or had a chance to buy some? Is there a good reason for that? Let's find out.
If you love coffee don’t read this! Supermarket coffee, one cup coffee makers using pods, cartridges, anything other than single origin coffee will always be a disappointment if you really like great coffee that tastes like coffee. Strong words, but let’s see if they can be backed up.
First, no matter what coffee you buy in any store save from a coffee roaster direct, is never freshly roasted, and pretty much guaranteed to not be of the “specialty” category. When you pay the normal $9.99 for a 12oz. bag of coffee, that really translates to about $12.50 per lb. That’s the price for specialty, single origin or even some estate coffee that is guaranteed to be among the best. You just won't find it in the usual places.
So what is the result of coffee loaded with huge amounts of Robusta coffee? It's bitter and 99% of those who drink it have to add cream and sugar. That's how this writer got started and for 40 years didn't know any better. Those who have accepted the challenge to try single origin coffee can attest to the fact of being amazed that coffee could taste so good!
So what’s the advantage of buying coffee in Ecuador? If you’re there and headed back to the states then that’s not a bad idea. Even then you have to be aware that any coffee, no matter how good, once roasted and ground has started the loss of flavor and aroma. It’s just a simple fact. So buying coffee at the airport is not always a good idea.
The best way to enjoy really great coffee, is to get it freshly roasted. Once roasted, it’s at it’s peak for about 14 days before it begins to deteriorate. That is, as long as it remains unground, or whole bean.
Now there’s a good bet you’re wondering how to do that? If you’re in Ecuador, there are a few good roasters like Aguila de Oro located near the Plaza de Independence on calle Benalcazar #3-123 and Espejo.
View from inside Aguila de Oro and their roaster
They offer a really good coffee with both a medium or dark roast. The key factor is not to buy coffee already in a bag.
Exterior of El Mosaico
Cafe Mosaico at Manuel Sanmaniego #30 and Antipara in the area known as Itchimbia, is another. Not only will you get great coffee, but a view of the city of Quito like none other!
City view of Southern Quito from patio of El Mosaico!
When you buy coffee in Ecuador it should be from a roaster, or at least from a coffee shop where they sell coffee in whole bean is the best bet. Grinding the coffee can be done at any supermarket, who cater to the needs of their customers. If you buy your groceries there, you likely know the management and they should be more than happy to oblige.
So, here’s the bottom line on how to buy coffee in Ecuador. Get coffee that has been freshly roasted within the last few days, and do not depend on complete honesty. Smell the coffee! The aroma should be strong if it's fresh! Do not get it ground, but in whole bean and lastly, figure on getting it ground once home.
It's hard to say if you will manage to get coffee that has not been mixed with Robusta. About the only way to tell is to look at the beans. Robusta is usually a much larger bean than Arabica, and not too difficult to spot.
Now this may be a bit much if you're wanting to take home some coffee from Ecuador, but you may as well give yourself the best chance to get what you're looking for.
Oh yeah, better figure on buying enough to last at least a month. Even at two cups per day, a pound of coffee can go quick, especially when it’s good. Ecuadorian coffee is really good! This from one who has been drinking coffee from around the world for over a decade. That’s advice you can take or leave, but given in good faith. Enjoy your experience when you buy coffee in Ecuador.