10 Years of Blog Archive

Saturday, February 13, 2016

What’s up with the Coffee in Ecuador? Updated 2016

Another update. This article was first published May 26, 2012. Here's what's new with the coffee prices in Ecuador.  

Update 2016 - The coffee we buy (I'm the only coffee drinker in the house) is grown in the mountains of Loja Ecuador. It's really good coffee and ground daily downtown in El Centro off of Mariscal Sucre, about 2 blocks off of the Park Calderon. Just start walking down the sidewalk and you'll smell the strong, wonderful aroma of the beans being ground.

When we first moved here we we're paying $3.85 for 450G for the coffee. (see photo below). It is very fresh. You can also buy the beans and grind them yourself for super fresh coffee. It was the same price off of Mariscal Sucre in El Centro too. Not sure about the price now though, we haven't been there in over a year.
 Loja Ecuador grown coffee
A year later the El Tostador coffee from Loja went up in price to $4.25 for 450Grams. Then the store we were buying it from upped the price to $7.50...so we quit buying it there and found a new store which still sells it for a decent price of $4.50. You can also buy it downtown off of Mariscal Sucre.

Some people say they like the Cubanito brand Coffee grown in Colombia; they sell it at Supermaxi or Coral. I prefer the Loja "El Tostador" coffee because it tastes much fresher than the Cubanito.  

The coffee tastes lousy in most restaurants in Ecuador. Ecuador is one of the main producers of coffee in the world and yet, they serve lousy coffee. What’s up with that? When we first got here we ordered a cup of coffee and we got instant coffee! Yuck! We were very surprised since we had read that Ecuador grows coffee.
Then we went to a different cafe and they brought us a cup of hot water and a small jar of imported “Nescafe”. What’s going on here? I’ll tell you what’s going on here. Ecuadorians are not big coffee drinkers—they just grow the stuff for export, and aren’t trying to compete at the higher taste levels.
When going out for coffee you have to tell the waiter that you want a cup of brewed coffee or else they’ll just bring you the imported instant. Unfortunately, some restaurants do not even have real coffee to serve.  The brewed coffee is always higher priced, and at one dollar a cup it still doesn’t seem worth the money.  According to our rule of 4, (If you have not yet read the article click here) that’s a $4 dollar cup of coffee, but if Starbucks was selling it they would be soon out of business.
When they serve the coffee they will always bring sugar to the table with your coffee but NEVER cream or milk. So, if you like a little bit of cream or milk in your coffee be prepared to pay extra for it, sometimes $0.50 cents to $1 extra for a ¼ inch of milk in your coffee, or they will bring you a cup of milk! 

Grabbing a good cup of coffee at $.50 cents a cup would be consistent according to our above mentioned rule of 3 & 4, but it’s not to be had. 

Update 2016 -  Here's something funny, I haven't ordered coffee out in awhile and just last week I asked the waitress for cafe con leche without much thought and she brought me a cup of milk with the jar of instant coffee. LOL, hehehehehe
I’ve learned not to order coffee in restaurants, especially traditional Ecuadorean food places because the establishment usually doesn’t even own a coffee maker to brew the coffee in! There are several gringo owned restaurants in Cuenca where you can order real brewed coffee but it can be expensive, plus some of them don’t give you cream unless you pay for it, or give you free refills.
Here is our solution:
Frank and I bought ourselves some nifty little thermoses and before we go out to be adventuresome in Cuenca we fill them with our favorite hot drink.  I bring coffee and Frank brings his cocoa with raw honey. We pack them into our back packs and we’re good to go. 
Yes, frugal folk like Frank and I like our creature comforts and good coffee for me and super good cocoa for Frank is one of them. We can sit down anywhere and drink our hot drinks.  Self sufficiency trumps challenges once again.
And another thing we have noticed when traveling anywhere in Ecuador don’t expect coffee makers in the hotel or hostel room, like you see throughout the hotels in North America. In fact, 99% of the time even in the hostel kitchens there will not be a coffee maker, which is astonishing! Our actual experience is that 100% of the time there is no coffee pot in the hostel.
Tutto Freddo is the only place we have had some of the best tasting coffee in Cuenca, in our opinion. We usually order the frothy, robust flavored cappuccino because it is a nice tall serving for $2.30.

A lot of people complain about the coffee in Ecuador.  Sometimes we read someone recommending a great coffee producer somewhere in Ecuador.  But that’s like saying to all people in Texas that there’s good coffee in Dallas.
Don’t worry, you can buy good coffee here at your local store but it is quite expensive. Considering it is grown here; we were expecting much lower prices.  But at least you can buy some at the store and take it home, and brew it up in your favorite coffee maker and enjoy a good cup of Ecuadorian coffee. 

We hope you enjoyed our update on the coffee in Ecuador. Until we write again...

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!


  1. Great blog. I completely agree with this post and am disappointed with how weak they like their coffee. The worst is the weak coffee that comes already mixed with way too much sugar. I've found decent coffee for only $3.00 a pound in the local food markets. It's best to get it whole bean (en grano) and grind it yourself. They like to grind coffee to a fine, floury powder which doesn't work well with some coffee makers or french presses.

  2. Where do they roast the beans you buy?

  3. An Ecuadorian's idea of a cup of coffee is a cup 2/3 full of hot milk and one spoon of Nescafe instant coffee, usually with 1-3 spoons of sugar.

  4. The people in the Andes are not big coffee drinkers but the ones in Guayaquil and other regions are. They like it's mostly made at home and at certain places that cater to coffee drinkers. I had a cousin that worked at one and we never had better coffee than we had there ever anywhere. I can understand restaurants using instant it's more convenient. Ask for "Cafe Pasado" and they just might make you some fabulous coffee. It's not instant :). Puttytat007

  5. My brother recently brought back some El Tostador from his last visit to Ecuador and I love it. Do you know if there is anywhere it can be purchased in the states or online?

  6. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon the blog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing the blog posts. Heather G. Oneil


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