Arabica trees are part of the conservation project, attracting birds and endangered spectacled bears and providing a low impact way for local communities to support themselves.
Rodrigo and Rebeca worked with other local farmers in the region, developing the Choco Andino corridor in the north of Ecuador.
Coffee trees produce their first crop in 2–3 years.
Berries ripen to a deep crimson.
The fruit is delicious, and tastes nothing like coffee.
We each picked a small bucket and brought them to this coffee pitter, which separates pulp from the seed.
After pulping Rodrigo washed the seeds. They're left to ferment for about a day.
And then placed on drying racks for up to ten days until they reach the desired humidity.
They look like little peanuts and still don't smell like coffee.
The outer shell is then removed, producing gray–green beans, which are roasted in Quito.
I roast mine in a fry pan, though you can use a toaster oven. You roast them until they crack, and another layer of peel comes off. Then you grind them.
Now comes the best part:
We slurped two different coffees for contrast, at a variety of temperatures as the cupping cooled. Maqui Pucuna's coffee is earthy and balanced, with the sweetness typical of coffee from Guatemala.