Don’t Skip the Budding Specialty-Café Culture in Quito, Ecuador

Introducing the specialty cafés of Quito, a city worth exploring on your coffee quest.

BY JORDAN BUCHANAN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

When traveling across South America, Ecuador can be forgotten between the high profiles of Colombia and Peru. Similarly, coffee from Ecuador may be overlooked due to its giant neighbors, including the stellar reputation of the coffee colossus to its north, Colombia. However, Ecuador is a neat package of specialty coffee, and the best place to explore and expand your knowledge on Ecuadorian coffee is in the capital city of Quito. Here, we take a look at some of Quito’s exciting coffee spots.

A latte from Il Barista, where many business professionals gather due to its location. Photo courtesy of Il Barista.

Il Barista

Employees of Ecuador’s chambers of commerce and other business professionals are the main frequenters of this café, owing to its location. The owners, Valeria and Pablo, opened Il Barista in 2017 with the goal of sharing their specialty-coffee passion with a wider community in the heart of a corporate area. They established a café that has acoustics for business meetings, and an aesthetic and customer service that combine for this professional feel. As a consumer, this serious service gives you an experience suited for the serious task of imbibing in the coffee culture of Ecuador.

Palatu Coffee

Palatu is more than a coffee space. The name itself derives from the word “palate,“ and that’s the driving concept of this café. Whether it be a Saturday tattoo artist, a Friday night DJ, a patisserie chef, or a V60, this café will excite your senses. Pablo is a young owner by specialty-coffee shop norms, and he brings enthusiasm and intelligence to this project. If you thought that diversifying coffee-shop activity would reduce the quality of the coffee, then come visit this café to be proven wrong! Palatu offers the best in Ecuadorian specialty, and they maintain close relationships with their farmers, despite their busy business model. The knowledge of specialty coffee here is just as comprehensive as the activity in the shop.

Fankør was founded in 2018, inspired by the specialty-coffee culture that owner Pablo encountered while in Denmark. Photo courtesy of Fankør.

Fankør Coffee

Yes, that is a Danish ø in this café name. Owner Pablo never liked commercial coffee much; he consumed it for productivity reasons. But when a friend gave him specialty coffee in 2017, Pablo embarked on a new obsession. He traveled around Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, and Denmark, accumulating knowledge on specialty coffee and the “light roast.” In 2018, Fankør was born, inspired by the specialty-coffee culture that Pablo encountered in Denmark. This café brings Scandinavian café culture to the middle of Quito, and offers rare and unique Ecuadorian coffees.

Café Traviesa

Felipe, the owner, is a social scientist by profession. And his curiosity and care for society and development inspires his coffee activity. Felipe works closely with rural community projects to acquire top Ecuadorian production that supports sustainable trade for coffee farmers. Felipe’s café, Traviesa, is fully equipped with the best in coffee technology to serve his coffees with respect for the coffee chain. Felipe is another pioneer of specialty coffee in the country, and his wealth of knowledge on coffee and society lead to this café being a must-try on any coffee-motivated visit to Ecuador.

Traviesa works with rural farmers to procure top-quality beans with a focus on sustainability. Photo courtesy of Traviesa.

Legacy Specialty Coffee

David, the owner, is all about learning. Since he opened his coffee school in 2013, he has contributed to the growth of knowledge and skill across the specialty café community in Ecuador. He still teaches from his dedicated learning space in the café. David experiments with alternative coffee drinks, such as coffee-cherry beers and beverages. But if you order a more traditional coffee drink, you can trust that the barista will prepare something great, owing to the expert training at Legacy.

Broz Coffee

Broz is a recent addition to Quito. They concentrate on roast profiles and close relationships with farmers and the consumer community. Owner Philip cut his teeth in specialty coffee in Melbourne, Australia, and he has transferred that experience and knowledge to Quito. A comfortable workspace, a safe social spot, and an exquisite coffee experience, Broz is a great boost to Quito’s specialty-café culture.

Stratto is a roastery in Quito that specializes in Ecuadoran specialty coffees. Photo courtesy of Stratto.

Stratto

Stratto is not a coffee shop, but it is worth mentioning here for anyone wanting to explore more of Ecuador’s specialty scene. Alejandro and Jonathan combined their coffee expertise in 2020 to create this coffee roastery, with special emphasis on acquiring and roasting phenomenal specialty coffees from Ecuador. They have a regular supply of coffee that you won’t find anywhere else, and they roast it to perfection.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordan Buchanan (he/they) is completing their Ph.D. in Latin American history at UC San Diego. Their research focuses on the growth of specialty-café cultures in producer nations in Latin America. Jordan grew up in Scotland and currently lives between there and Mexico when not doing doctoral work in San Diego. After purchasing their first AeroPress, Jordan has been an avid specialty-coffee enthusiast, which has added a new perspective to their lust for travel and exploration. 

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Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.