Though Ecuador isn’t known as a large coffee-producing country, it is one of the very few that cultivates and exports Arabica and Robusta coffee beans – two popular varieties used to make coffee consumed around the world.
Because of Ecuador’s rich and biologically diverse landscape, various ecosystems within the country allow a wide range of coffee cultures to thrive.
History of coffee in Ecuador
When coffee grains were introduced in Ecuador during the mid-1800s, it eventually became one of the country’s top export products for a very long time to come. The Arabica variety was mostly grown in coastal Manabi Province, in the mountainous province of Loja, and along the western foothills of the Andes mountains. Robusta varieties were cultivated in Guayas and the northern region.
As soon as Ecuador opened for foreign trade and commerce, many small plantations sprouted throughout the nation, boosting Ecuador’s economic growth.
Ecuador’s coffee industry significantly declined during 1903, but it recovered two years later, when the country started exporting coffee beans to several European countries.
Ecuador currently produces around 575,000 bags (60kg per bag) annually. The country exports their coffee to more than 50 countries, which include the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Japan, Colombia, Italy, Canada, Argentina, and Holland.
Coffee is grown in 10 of the 24 provinces in Ecuador: El Oro, Manabí, Loja, Guayas, Zamora Chinchipe, Pichincha, Orellana, Sucumbíos, Galapagos, and Napo.
Traditional methods are still used today to produce about 80% of coffee in Ecuador. Beans are handpicked, and farmers usually avoid using fertilizer for the soil. Instead of the modern irrigation systems used in most farms today, many coffee farms rely on rainfall to water the crops. Farms that use traditional methods produce about 300kg of coffee per hectare, while plantations that use technical or semi-technical methods yield about 700kg per hectare.