Latest Posts

  1. Papua New Guinea

    Papua New Guinea

    Papua New Guinea is often lumped in with Indonesian coffees. But it is distinct in nearly every way.

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  2. Flores

    Flores

    Flores is small by island standards, just about 360 kilometers end to end. It is in the Indonesian archipelago, between Sumbawa and Timor islands.

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  3. Costa Rica

    Costa Rica

    If there is a problem with Costa Rica coffee, it's the fact that it can lack distinction; it is straightforward, clean, softly acidic, mild.

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  4. Dominican Republic

    Dominican Republic

    Good news, Sammy Sosa ...the Dominican produces more than mild cigars. It has a tradition of coffee production that dates back several centuries now.

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  5. Mexico

    Mexico

    Mexican coffee originates from South-central to Southern regions of the country.

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  6. Uganda

    Uganda

    he variety of wild Robusta coffee still growing today in Uganda's rain forests are thought to be some of the rarest examples of naturally occurring coffee trees anywhere in the world.

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  7. Nicaragua

    Nicaragua

    Nicaraguan coffees have a wide range of flavor attributes. Some cup like Mexican coffees from Oaxaca, others have a more pronounced acidity.

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  8. El Salvador

    El Salvador

    El Salvador coffee had a poor reputation for years, marred mostly by the inability to deliver coffee of high quality within an unstable social climate.

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  9. Panama

    Panama

    Coffee from Panama was once overlooked and under-rated, but not any longer.

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  10. Ethiopia

    Ethiopia

    Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee: it is in the forests of the Kaffa region that Coffea Arabica grew wild.

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  11. Decaf

    Decaf

    Green coffee is decaffeinated before roasting. This process changes the color of the green coffee: it varies from light brown (Natural and CO-2) to green-brown (MC and Swiss Water Process -SWP- decafs).

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  12. Australia

    Australia

    Okay, it is a continent and an island. But how do you classify Australian coffee?

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Ecuador

Ecuador

Coffee has a long history in Ecuador. It was introduced in the early 19th century and became its main export in the early 20th century. But coffee from Ecuador has never been included in the list of top quality coffee origins, mostly because of poor harvesting and processing practices.

Like other nearby coffee-growing nations, Ecuador has ideal altitudes and climate for coffee, and a lot of old heirloom Typica variety trees. A great Ecuador coffee is balanced, bright, and has a clean taste overall. Ecuador has moderate body, and can feature floral notes on rare occasions. Like its neighbors, Ecuador is harvested counter to the Central America crop, so it arrives in the US at an ideal time to replace Centrals that might be getting tired in the cup.

But coffee has taken a back seat in Ecuador. As other Ecuadorian exports (bananas, oil, shrimp) exceeded coffee in importance, hope that the quality of the coffee would improve dimmed. They managed to continue to ship low grade arabica and robusta coffees, finding a market among the institutional and commercial roasters of the U.S. and Europe who are more concerned with price than cup quality. Low grade arabicas are dry-processed in Ecuador, called "bola," and have a hard, earthy flavor. I found that some supermarket roasted/ground coffees like Pilon and Bustelo use a lot of Ecuador bola coffee. But coffee formerly employed about 15% of the rural population.

As I mentioned, Ecuador has everything it takes to grow great coffee. Positioned between Colombia and Peru, the interior mountain ranges have plenty of altitude, good weather patterns, and ideal soil for coffee. But a great coffee can be ruined at any stage in the process, from the tree to the cup. Many of the problems are with a lack of adherence to quality standards in the wet-processing, drying, resting (reposo) and then dry-milling of the coffee. A bit too much fermentation in the wet mill tanks, a rain storm drenching the coffee when it is on the drying patios, moist low-altitude conditions during the reposo, or badly adjusted dry-mill equipment can all ruin a wonderful coffee.

Poor infrastructure, delays in shipment, tainted shipping containers ... there is one way to produce good coffee and a thousand ways to ruin it! So the new efforts by the Ecuadorian Agriculture Department and farmer Co-operatives focus on education, improved equipment, and adherence to high standards.
I did travel to Ecuador a while back, and we take at least 2 trips a year since then. Check out the travelogue section of our Coffee Library page for the photos.

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