Various producers organized around Sensum Coffee
1600 - 1900 masl
Bourbon, Caturra, and Catuai
Loja Province, Ecuador
Fully washed and dried on raised beds
May - September
Loja is one of Ecuador’s southernmost provinces. This part of the country is almost entirely high elevation and is covered in numerous microclimates of páramo (alpine tundra) humid forests, and jungle. This stretch of the Andes is a kind of ecological bridge between the vast inland Amazonian basin to the east, and the coastal desert of northern Peru. It’s a unique blend of humid and arid zones with an elevation and fertility that privileges specialty coffee production, particularly that of heirloom typica and bourbon lineage varieties increasingly unique to Ecuador and rare pockets of Peru.
Before the development of Ecuador’s northern estates, the Loja and Zamora Chinchipe provinces were synonymous with the country’s coffee industry. And their production resembles that of neighboring Colombia and Peru: remote, small family plots picking and processing coffee by hand, represented through local growers’ organizations, and generally speaking regionally homogenous profiles. Records held by the Ecuadorian Censo Nacional Económico, the country’s economic statistical office, show that coffee was first commercialized in the Loja region in 1820. So, coffee across Ecuador’s south is many generations old and is considered a meaningful heritage to thousands of landowners of indigenous descent.
This coffee is comprised of various smallholder farmers from throughout the Loja province, whose coffee is organized by Galo Morales and Maria Alexandra Rivera, a husband and wife team based in Ecuador’s northern Pichincha province, who farm their own coffee and also export coffee from producers across Ecuador.
As is common throughout the southern regions of Ecuador, each small farm contributing to the blend is responsible for all harvesting and post-harvest processing on site: this typically consists of one small depulper machine, a single fermentation tank, and a small solar dryer with raised screen beds inside. Once picked, coffee is typically depulped and fermented for 24-48 hours depending on the climate. Final washing is done in plastic or cement tanks with fresh water, and the coffee is then moved to the drying tables, where it’s turned continuously during the course of drying. Finished dried parchment is stored on site in GrainPro bags by each individual producer.
Galo and Maria Alexandra, the exporters of this microlot, manage their own Finca Cruz Loma, a 350-hectare plot in the community of San José de Minas, a small town in the northwestern part of Pichincha, a short trip north of Quito. The estate has been in Galo’s family going back 80 years. Galo’s experience in coffee began 20 years ago working alongside his mother on the farm; he would go on to work professionally in the coffee sector, for exporters and as a project manager, before returning to full-time farming. In Galo’s words, “cultivating my coffee is an activity that allows me to apply and develop the skills and habits I’ve learned over the years; it’s also an essential resource for my family, since my wife, my daughters, and myself are all involved with the production and marketing of our coffee. Everybody in the family has a critical role in the coffee’s success.” Galo’s experience in the value chain has positioned his family well to help create opportunities for other farms by representing their coffees, first to exporters and, more recently with an export license of their own, directly to Royal Coffee.