Field Report: A Trip to Ecuador with the Barista Champions (Part 2)
...Continued from Part 1
A four hour bus ride to the northeast takes us close to the Colombian border, to Hacienda Primavera. Owned by Ena's family, Primavera is a shockingly beautiful resort and coffee farm, and just about 10 kilometers away is a processing station. Ena has been working closely with people in this area to help spur coffee production. Three years ago there was no coffee growing in this region, but this harvest they are expecting about 500 sacks. We visited the wet mill after horseback riding, and jumped in a river that flowed through the Andes.
When we retuned to the resort, we were greeted with an amazing surprise of a Bumba band and we danced for hours to this fusion of Latin and Africa music. Our time at Primavera was something none of us will never forget.
Travel day: Four hours back to Quito, with a pit stop at a local market to stock up on Alpaca scarves. We boarded a short flight to Guayaquil, southern Ecuador, where we would be for the remainder of our trip.
Finca Terrone is Ecuador's largest coffee farm, with 250 hectors. Made up entirely of Robusta, it sits at only 80 meters above sea level. Robusta produces about 8 tons per hectare, in comparison to the approximately 1-3 tons that is generally produced from Arabica. The amount of cherries on each branch was amazing. Getting a chance to see a Robusta farm was a really exciting opportunity for us coffee nerds.
Just about 5 kilometers away was a cacao farm called Hacienda Victoria–this is what we were all most excited about!
Cacao is broken up into two types, very similar to coffee. Fine aroma (like arabica), and bulk coco (like robust). Victoria is the largest fine aroma cacao farm in the world. We were taken through the whole process from the nursery, to the farm, to the processing. There were so many similarities with coffee, which made it very easy for us to follow along. The best part was that cacao tastes like chocolate even before it becomes chocolate! We all enjoyed the rich delicious flavor right from the drying patio. Indeed, this was a highlight from the trip.
With just one more day left, and with Camilia, Park, and Josh heading to the Galapagos the next morning, we went out for a big dinner to celebrate such an amazing trip together.
This day was set aside as a free day, no plans, so we huddled up to figure out how we would like to spend our last day. After a little internet research we found that Guayaquil had plenty of fun stuff near by. First we stopped at an iguana park, with hundreds of iguanas walking around an open park! Afterwards we headed to a botanical garden within the city, which was filled with monkeys, butterflies and huge spiders. There rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool, with a stroll down the boardwalk and our last meal together.
Tomorrow we all fly home and will have to say goodbye, but only for now. We are all connected through the coffee industry so we know we will see each other again soon. I can say with confidence that this trip has created a bond between us and that this experience will stick with us for a lifetime.
We are all so grateful to Café Imports for facilitating an opportunity like this and believing that we were worth the investment. We are all better coffee professionals because of this experience.