Quito, the coffee city

31/Agosto/2012 | 15:45

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Back in the 1980s a man named Tom Miller came to Ecuador to explore the Panama Hat Trail, producing a book by the same title.  It was a trail that he blazed himself, based on his own research.  The Panama Hat (despite what the name suggests) comes from Ecuador and Miller was in search of its origins.  But along the way he had one very big frustration.  He could never find a good cup of coffee in Ecuador.

After all, great coffee has always been the product of Colombia, not its southern neighbors, right?  Not so fast.

Today, Miller’s experience would be hard to duplicate because in the past decade Ecuador has seen an explosion in great coffees and great places to drink them. 

If you are skeptical try one of these nine places. What many people don’t know is that, just like the Panama Hat is an Ecuadorian secret, so too, is the coffee.  In fact much of that famous Colombian coffee is imported from this great country in the middle of the world.

Café Mosaico

We begin our tour at Café Mosaico on the eastern hillside overlooking old town - a blend of Greek, American, and Ecuadorian.  Enjoy their espresso with an unforgettable view, following an unforgettable meal.  Address: Manuel Samaniego #30 y Antepara, Itchimbía / 254-2871.  www.cafemosaico.com.ec.

La Cuchara San Marcos

Next, head to La Cuchara de San Marcos.  This vegetarian restaurant, art gallery, and shop in the old San Marcos Neighborhood offers great local coffee prepared in a siphon at your table.  San Marcos is one of Quito’s oldest neighborhoods and often missed by the main tourism crowds.  Address: Junín E3-121 y Manuel Jijón, in the cul-de-sac, or “cuchara.”  295-1713

San Agustin Heladeria

For 150 years San Agustin Heladeria has been serving coffee, ice cream, and as many as 60 different traditional sweets along Guayaquil Street in the historic district.  Located in front of the monastery, from which it takes its name, San Agustin Heladeria offers a chance to enjoy “café del pasado” – the way coffee used to be consumed – in a traditional home.  The first floor has adobe walls that are more than a meter thick, with no windows (windows are on the second floor), illustrating the architecture of the time.  Located at Guayaquil N5-59 y Mejía. 

Café Tianguez

All travelers make it sooner or later to Quito’s oldest and most iconic public square, the San Francisco Plaza.    We invite you to go beneath the atrium to the Café Tianguez, an artisan craft shop, museum, restaurant and coffee shop operated by the Sinchi Sacha Foundation.  They serve locally made specialty coffee from different producers, but it is the combination of great flavor and the historic setting that will remain with you long after you have left.  Location: San Francisco Plaza, www.tianguez.org

Aguila de Oro

Finally, you will surely want to take some great smelling and great tasting coffee home after your visit to Quito.  Aguila de Oro, located behind the Metropolitan Cultural Center, attracts people daily with the aroma of their roasting coffee beans.  For more than 60 years they have been selling coffee from the Loja region of the country.  They offer three simple roasts: dark, medium, and light, and sell it by the pound.  Address: Benalcazar Street (N3-123 & Espejo). 

Mister Bagel

Though everyone visits the historic district, many also find their way to the northern sections of the city.   The Mariscal District, in particular, is a great place to discover a good cup of coffee, but first we start you off a bit further north with a traditional, local hangout for breakfast and lunch: Mister Bagel.

Mister Bagel  is the only bagel shop in town and perhaps the only coffee shop that offers free refills.  Stop by in the morning or try a slice of home-made apple pie in the afternoon.  They have two locations: Portugal E10-95 & 6 de Diciembre / 224-0978 & Cordero & Tamayo / 223-9729

Café Galletti

You may have seen the Café Galletti coffee brand in stores throughout Quito. Why not stop by the shop for a taste of their café, brewed their way?!  Locally produced, you can try a cup and buy a bag to take home.  Select from their House Blend, Turkish Mist,  Ecuadorian Mountain Coffee, and other products.  Address: Carrion & Juan Leon Mera, www.cafegalletti.com,   252-7361.


Though it seems to be off the radar, Nocion produces some of the best coffee enjoyed in Quito’s finest restaurants. They also export their beans all over the world.  But you need only go to the Mariscal neighborhood for a hot cup.  Address: Mariscal Foch E8-57 & 6 de Diciembre, 254-5139. http://ec.nocion.co

Galeria Ecuador Gourmet

Finally, this tour comes to an end at a place where money will only burn a hole in your pocket. 

The Galeria Ecuador Gourmet is by far one of the best places to buy your gifts before heading home – an artisan shop that brings together more than 60 different products and brands from jewelry to clothing, to gourmet food products.  You can buy all the top brands of coffee in one place and then enjoy a cup in their café before you leave.  Address: Reina Victoria N24-263 y Lizardo García / 223-9469 / 255-8440.  www.galeriaecuador.com


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