Coffee in Ecuador is an interesting paradox.
It’s produced here, but it is rather expensive and it can be hard to find a good cup.
We have tried just about every brand / type available. We’ve tried supermarkets, the open markets and homemade (home roasted).
We’ve found most to have a strong burnt taste and others tend to not be roasted long enough.
After testing and trying, we found a brand that we love.
Ecuador’s Cubanito Coffee
Café Cubanito is sold just about everywhere. The major supermarkets and the small corner-store tiendas all carry this brand. It can be bought in 4 or 5 different sized bags – ranging from 50g up to 400g.
Back in Canada, we didn’t mind paying extra for good quality coffee. Here, the cheapest coffee is also the best. And because it is the least expensive, it is super easy to find. Cubanito also comes in a premium, un-ground bean. We haven’t tried this yet because we don’t have a good way to grind it.
Ironically, the best coffee in Ecuador is named Café Cubanito (which means: Little Cuban Coffee). Another of Ecuador’s most famous products – the Panama hat – is also made here in Ecuador.
For us, we prepare it the same as we did in Canada. We have a drip coffee maker and a Bodum stainless steel stove-top espresso maker which we brought from Canada.
The espresso maker is my favorite (in part because it was a gift from Dena, just before we moved here). The steam process along with the Cubanito coffee produces a distinct aroma and a slightly chocolatey flavor. Just add a little panela (unprocessed cane juice) and you’ll have a mug of perfection.
We’ve also prepared coffee with the coffee sock (my terminology – I don’t know what it is actually called), a fabric coffee filter bag on a metal frame. It is the same idea as a coffee maker but without the automation. You just pour boiling water into the sock which is full of coffee grounds and the coffee drips / pours through the fabric. We helped friends prepare gallons of coffee this way – the results are surprisingly good. We learned this method here in Ecuador.
We’ve also seen coffee prepared by pouring loose grounds into a pot of boiling water. The grounds mostly sink to the bottom and the coffee is taken off the top. This makes a very inconsistent flavor (from one batch to the next) and there are usually floating grounds in the coffee.
Ecuador Coffee at Local Restaurants
Despite having lots of local coffee options, many restaurants opt to use instant coffee machines – the ones that give a weird foam from the previous customer. It might be mochachino, café latte or a herbal tea. I don’t like to complain, but these Nescafe machines are disgusting, unless you like a super-sweet artificial hot drink. The other option at many restaurants is Nescafe instant coffee.
Two restaurants in Cuenca that have good coffee are Fruitlados and Nice Cream (Tutto Freddos). Both are just off of Parque Calderon and are worth a visit. Although not yet in Cuenca, the popular Sweet and Coffee is also worth a try. You can find these in Guayaquil and Quito.
Coffee in Ecuador is Expensive
Compared to the price of arabica coffee in Canada, Ecuador coffee is expensive.
- In Canada, a 1 kilogram tub of Folgers Classic Roast ground coffee costs between $7.99 and $8.60.
- In Ecuador, a 400g bag of Cubanito ground coffee costs between $4.60 and $4.85.
Given that coffee plantations are never more than a few hours drive from anywhere in Ecuador (it is grown in 10 of the 24 provinces: El Oro, Manabí, Loja, Guayas, Zamora Chinchipe, Pichincha, Orellana, Sucumbíos, Galapagos, and Napo) it shouldn’t cost more than in Canada (where it is all imported).
Other brands in Ecuador cost even more than Cubanito. A 400g bag at Supermaxi can cost as much as $9.00. In fact, Cubanito is the least expensive, mass-produced coffee in Ecuador. Galapagos coffee is understandably more expensive – it is an obvious tourist souvenir and there are many limitations about farming on the islands that would make it more expensive to produce.
Colombia Buys Ecuadorian Coffee?
In researching this post, I learned that Ecuadorian coffee is exported to 29 countries, including Russia, Poland, Germany, Colombia (?!), Italy and the Netherlands accounting for more than 80% of total coffee exports. We had purchased Ecuador grown coffee in Canada before we moved – although the grains were roasted in Canada.
I Like Ecuador Coffee How Much?
Every time we’ve left Ecuador for vacation, we’ve packed a few bags of our favorite coffee, Cubanito. A couple of months ago we enjoyed Ecuador coffee on the beach in Florida, and in a snowstorm in Canada. We’ve sipped Ecuador coffee while walking on the beach in Aruba and while road-tripping across the US.
So now you know. Coffee is my little obsession. Give Cubanito a try on your next trip to Ecuador.
What is your favorite coffee? In Ecuador?