The Choco Andino not only stands out for being one of the most biodiverse regions in the world and for the history that exists behind the pre-Inca culture of the Yumbos. Its soil is suitable for agricultural undertakings, which is why they have focused on specialty coffee and fine aroma cocoa.
And now tourism also takes advantage of these tall crops. In the parish of Nanegalito, in the northwest of the Metropolitan District, there are two places whose coffee production is very popular in the US markets and Europe, due to the properties given by the cultivation of this fruit in the cloud forest of Quito.
It is the Alambi Reserve and the Frajares estate. In Alambi, Brian Krohnke is the one who created the project together with Favián Luna. There, tourists come to observe the birds and also have access to an experience about coffee growing in Chocó.
On the trip, the visitor can take pictures of the birds and observe the process of sowing, harvesting, pulping, washing and drying the grain. In addition, the tourist takes a bag of a coffee that is unique in the world, because it was planted at latitude 0 °, at 1 500 meters above sea level.
In Frajares, however, you can taste all the products that arise around a coffee cherry, such as coffee tea, coffee lemonade or different preparations of roasted and ground coffee. According to Francisco Restrepo, administrator, this farm specializes in the fusion of aromas.
The proposal of this place is that the visitor has a brief experience as a taster, so that he learns to differentiate the peripheral flavors of coffee, such as the sweetness that is perceived at the tip of the tongue, the bitterness when passing it through the throat, or the acidity when it comes in contact with the sides of the tongue.
The coffee produced in Chocó has achieved ratings of 89 out of 100 points in the last international tasting processes, which is why it is considered a gourmet coffee. At 120 km from Quito, also in the Choco Andino, is the town of San José de Mashpi, a place that in recent years has gained international fame thanks to the chocolates that are produced there.
According to Marco Bolaños, who has lived in this sector for 36 years, the secret of his fame is based on the organic resources that are used. “The soil was enhanced with treatments of microorganisms, which help the decomposition of the biomass that serves as fertilizer,” he says.
Mashpi has a mixture of flavors. In fact, in one hectare there are 35 varieties of fine aroma cocoa, some with citrus flavors, others floral and fruity. They even have wild cacao plants that exceed 50 years. The adventures of bird watching and tours of coffee and cacao farms are offered from USD 10 per person. The circuits are easy to travel, so children and young people can attend without any problem. (I)