Ecuador Finca La Papaya
About Ecuador Finca La Papaya
This is the first offering of new crop coffee from Ecuador Finca La Papaya located in the Saraguro region of Southern Ecuador which was directly sourced by the owner, Barry Levine this past fall. Ecuador is a new coffee origin for us. It's a country with great location and elevation, profound traits for growing quality coffee. Located directly on the equator (ecuador in spanish, right?) it is sandwiched between Colombia to its north and east, of which it was formerly part of, and Peru to its south and east. Its west side is on the Pacific. Their are two primary growing regions, one to the north of the capital Quito and the other Loja Province in the south near Peru. Both areas have particularly high elevations with some farms over 2000 meters and even up to 2300 meters, about the highest grown coffee on earth. You can only grow coffee over this altitudeon the equator and even there exists the potential for frost on the coolest of evenings.
We made two trips to Ecuador in 2016, the first in June which involved a stay in Quito and a flight to Loja where we trekked pretty deep into the mountains where we found scattered coffee farms that were hard to get to. The growers we met along the way were lovely, warm people, graciously offering us food and water. Throughout our travel we heard about La Papaya coffee and how it was impossible to secure any this season. Instead, it became a benchmark of sorts for others when they described their coffee as being 'like La Papaya'. Near the end of the trip, back in Quito, a colleague and I were invited to an espresso bar and cafe where a member of their staff was heading into an international competition as the representative from Ecuador. The coffee they chose to represent them was La Papaya. When we asked if there was any to try we were each given about half a pound of it freshly roasted. It went home with me the next day and the morning after, back home, I made my first pot. Typica varietal at its finest, bold and exotic. I relished the bag until it was gone thinking we would not have a chance to acquire any ourselves. But good surprises happen sometime and a small amount of the new crop was made available to us. Needless to say I snatched it up.
The farm is owned and operated by Juan Pena who comes from a long line of farmers, but himself is new to coffee farming. He was previously a long stem rose producer who started experimenting with coffee plants about 5 years ago after disastrous weather wiped out his flower fields. After his crops were destroyed he turned entirely to working on coffee and has worked vigorously to develop a healthy, successful and horticulturally intentional farm. In addition to his cherry producing crops he also ha a plant nursery and a "garden of inputs" where coffee trees are planted several yards apart and labeled with the fertiziler inputs they are given to track the impact of the nutrients on growth and cherry development. The farm is located at a staggering elevation of 2100 meters and the varietal grown is all Typica. Due to the high growing elevation the coffee has a uniquely bright and sparkling cup profile.
- Farm: Finca La Papaya
- Producer: Juan Pena
- Elevation: 2100 meters (6890 feet)
- Varietal: Typica
- Processing: Fully washed
Cup Characteristics: Bold, smooth and slightly spicy example of very high grown Typica variety, coffee's original DNA. Complex, dry, long finish. Something at once familiar and exotic.
Roasting Notes: This is a high grown, dense bean that will withstand lighter and darker roasting. To retain the dryness it is recommended to pull before 2nd crack, but the bean lends itself to darker roasts to highlight the bold character of the coffee.
Ecuador Coffee Facts
Population (2015): 16.5 Million People
Coffee Production (2013): 666,000 bags (60 kg), 60% Arabica
Country bag capacity: 132 pounds
Domestic Consumption: 243,000 bags
Coffee Export: 423,000 bags
Cultivated Area: 200,000 Hectares (80,000 acres)
May to September varying by region
Specialty Coffees: Much of the coffee is produced by small producers with less than 10 acres (4 hectares).
Botanical Varietals: Typica, Bourbon, Caturra
Growing Regions: Loja Province in the south; Pinchincha in the north are the principle regions.
Ecuador, once part of Colombia, has all the natural attributes to produce superb coffee, notably location on or near the equator, significant elevation and volcanic soils. It is one of a limited number of countries producing both Arabica and Robusta coffee. While production is small Ecuador is poised to become a top quality origin in the near future and some great coffees are already beginning to be available.