Loja coffee: like a fine Bordeaux wine

In July of this year, Loja coffee growers received from Ecuador's patent authority SENADI the ‘Café de Origen’ designation protecting their intellectual property rights. Intellectual property is a work of art or invention resulting from human creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which the inventor, producer, or artist has ownership rights, and that qualifies to be patented, copyrighted, or trademarked.

Another Ecuadorian product that has won a designation of origin is the emblematic Montecristi Panama hats from Manabi province. However, Lojano coffee receiving the designation is more similar to that of Bordeaux wines, an example of one of the oldest intellectual property protections ever created. Outside of the specified region of France, no one is allowed to put the Bordeaux name on their wine bottle's label. Similarly, any coffee misrepresented as being from Loja will now face the full force of the Ecuadorian justice department.

“Tercera Mesa Técnica de Café” or…

The Deciders: Who judges your cup of coffee?

If you are one of over a billion people worldwide who drink coffee every single day, you may have had some questions while that warm rich brew was sliding down your throat and you were waiting for the caffeine to jolt you awake. In this liminal moment during your daily ritual, you may have wondered who, when, and where it was determined exactly what makes a decent, or even great, cup of coffee? You probably thought that standards for coffee tastes and aromas would have been as old as coffee drinking itself. You might be thinking that coffee was appreciated in the same way that wine connoisseurs savored and discussed a fine vintage. And you would have been wrong to make that wine/coffee analogy.

Modern coffee grading started at the beginning of the last century around 1911 with The National Coffee Association in the US.  Unfortunately, this was somewhat of a false start as far as coffee appreciation goes.  The NCA functioned as an industry lobby in the same way that early 20th-cen…

Connecting Coffee, Politics, and Tourism in Loja

Coffee Connections: Free Walks Loja’s young travel and tourism entrepreneurs network with local political candidates

After watching a recent candidate forum presented by UTPL (Loja’s technical university) live-streamed on Facebook, the management team of Free Walks Loja decided to invite the 2019 candidates from all the political parties to take the young company’s most popular excursion, the Coffee Tour, during the campaign season prior to this year’s election.

UTPL’s forum had many questions for the candidates about the future of Loja, including tourism in the region. Our tour company’s directors were tourism and travel management graduates from the National University in Loja, so they knew there were many things that could be done to increase the number of visitors to the city and province. The Free Walks team wanted to show the candidates the direction of modern tourism, which is not capital intensive but provides high cultural and experiential value. Free Walk's private to…

Coffee Tours of Loja visits Bracamoros 2018 coffee fair

At this year's Bracamoros coffee growers' fair, Coffee Tours of Loja enjoyed the hospitality of Loja's premier organic coffee purveyor (and stop on our most popular specialty tour)-- Equanativa Shop and Cafe. Traveling with Equanativa's owner, Arturo Jimenez, we saw first-hand the origin of many varieties of coffee from southern Ecuador served and sold in Loja's finer coffee shops.

The tenth edition of the southern Ecuador growers' coffee fair was held in the village of Palanda, in the canton of the same name due south of Vilcabamba on route 662 to Peru, nestled between Yacuri National Park to the west and Podocarpus National Park in the east.

A lively exposition was assembled on the last Saturday of September under canopies erected over the streets of Palanda's central square to shade fair visitors from the near 90 degree heat that morning. Fair goers were treated to a wide array of southern products beyond local coffee, such as produce, herbal remedies, …

Chocolate History: southern Ecuador is the birthplace

The Encuentro Del Café VI 2018 coffee grower's expo in Loja, Ecuador, offered a wealth of interesting information, and it wasn't all just about coffee.  José de Saeger, a Belgian with a shop in Vilcabamba, Loja province, has been making chocolate from locally sourced cacao powder for over a decade.  José's chocolate brand "Del Páramo," puts out a ton of chocolate every day, he claims, using several types of Ecuadorian cocoa.  Part of his holdings are 40 hectares of cacao fruit-bearing (theobroma) trees or cacao plants in Palanda Canton, in the Amazonian province of Zamora-Chinchipe, southern Ecuador. 
A very gregarious bi-lingual representative of his company, José presented a wide variety of tempting hand-made gourmet chocolates, including several grades of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.  Daily consumption of dark chocolate has myriad health benefits according to the entrepreneur.  He says his milk chocolate is a nod to traditional chocola…