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My Favorite Ecuador Coffee: Café Cubanito

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Looking for the best coffee in Ecuador? In this post, you'll learn about our favorite brand and roast of coffee. This is significant for a country that produces a lot of coffee.

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Ecuador's Best Coffee

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 bestAnd 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.

Café Cubanito is one of the best things to buy in Ecuador before returning home.

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The large 400g bags often come with a coffee scoop and a little guide to making great coffee.

How to Prepare Coffee 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 stovetop 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 – deliciously strong coffee.

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 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

ecuador-coffeeCompared 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.

Like eating? Then you'll love our guide to Ecuadorian food

What Kind of Coffee Does Ecuador Grow?

Ecuador grows arabica and robusta coffee plants. Ecuador is one of only 15 countries that both grow and export arabica and robusta coffee.

If you are from North America, you might think that the only kind of coffee is arabica. And while it is popular there are other kinds. The second most popular type of coffee is robusta.

Here are the differences between arabica and robusta coffee.

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. And it is definitely one of the best things to buy in Ecuador as a souvenir.

What is your favorite coffee? In Ecuador? 

My Favorite Photos of Adobe Homes in Ecuador
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Slavo

Friday 16th of October 2020

I've tried Cafe Cubanito and for some reason I didn't like the taste. It was purchased 3 weeks after packaging date so assume freshness was not an issue. I guess we have all different preferences. However, I've tried many different coffee brands from different locations of Ecuador and they were mostly excelent or at least very good. Right now I'm drinking El Zarumenito - Un cafe de altura from El Oro province (La Hoya de Zaruma mountain) that I bought at SuperMaxi and really like it. I would say it has nutty taste with a hint of caramel. I think it was like $4 for 450g. Anyone who wants to try great coffee for very low price I would suggest Cafe Gomez Super Especial. It's from Loja and Manabi provinces and cost around $1.50 for 200g. Since the low price the packaging is cheap too and coffee will not remain fresh for very long so make sure to check the date of packaging before purchasing. They sell it in Santa Maria Supermarkets.

Judy

Friday 21st of August 2020

As an Ecuadorian and a coffee addict, I can assure that Café Cubanito is the best brand in Ecuador so far. I also like Sweet and Coffee and other coffee brands from Loja and Zaruma cities are also good options, but definitely Cubanito es the best arabica coffee here.

Bryan Haines

Saturday 22nd of August 2020

I couldn't agree more! I only wish we could get it here in Canada.

Cynthia Daniels

Sunday 25th of August 2019

Bryan, Thank you for your insights. I have a few place to add that make a really good cup of coffee in Cuenca as well: Cafe Nucallacta, Mozart's, and Sinfonia (they even roast their own on site). In addition to great coffee, the owners of the establishments take great pride in what they serve.

Karla

Wednesday 6th of March 2019

Hi guys, I’m an avid reader of your blog since I’m from Cuenca and I love to read about my city and my country and to be honest you make me feel a little closer to home... I miss a lot of things and food from Cuenca and my coffe is the one I miss the most, I was so surprised to read about cafe cubanito here and doing a little browsing and digging I found it on amazon and I’m so happy!... I know I may be a little late since this post is a bit old but anyway I’m leaving the link here in case someone wants to try it. Cubanito Coffee Ecuadorian gourmet ground coffee. Cafe Cubanito de Ecuador.

Scott Harris

Monday 17th of December 2018

Thanks for sharing. I bought this recently and the quality is amazing!

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