Have you ever paused to think about all of the amazing origin countries that the equator passes through? The most obvious, Ecuador, might not be the first to come to mind. Ecuador is one of the more elusive origins, likely the result of a high cost of production, which makes it more difficult to compete in a global market. A producer’s survival here depends on an ability to make a premium to cover the higher costs of labor. This is the strategy taken by Jose Maria de Jesus Encalada Flores, who cultivates coffee along with oranges, bananas, and avocados on a 7-acre farm called Finca Lobongo. Jose Maria focuses on quality, which was recognized with a first place finish in the 2013 Golden Cup coffee competitions. The entire harvest is meticulously hand picked by Jose Maria and a handful of employees. Next the cherries are washed, floated to remove less dense and damaged beans, and hand sorted. Then Jose Maria depulps, ferments, washes and gently dries the coffee on raised beds at the farm. The finished parchment is stored in grainpro bags until it is time to mill and export.