12 Quito Coffee Shops that Prove Ecuador's Best Beans Aren’t Being Exported

While Ecuador's traditional coffee preparation (café pasado prepared in a chuspa) resembles a prototype of a V60 pour-over, coffee in many Ecuadorian households and restaurants commonly has meant a mug of hot water and a jar of Nescafé on the table. According to a 2017 USDA report, Ecuador was importing cheap soluble coffee from countries like Vietnam, while meanwhile exporting hundreds of thousands of green coffee sacks to Europe, the U.S., and beyond. However, thanks to a dedicated group of pioneering growers, roasters, and baristas throughout Ecuador, the Ecuadorian speciality coffee scene is now booming. Get ready for your caffeine rush, because here are twelve Quito coffee shops proudly showcasing the art of Ecuadorian coffee.

1. Traviesa
Tucked away on a side street off González Suárez in Quito, Traviesa is building an international reputation with expertly roasted single-origins and blends from distinguished coffee fincas in Carchi, Loja, Imbabura, Pichincha, and Zamora-Chinchipe. Felipe Cisneros, the genius behind Traviesa, began his coffee journey as a college barista in Oregon in 1998, and with a good eye, you can still spot that PNW connection via Traviesa’s Slayer espresso machine. Not to miss: the burrata-asparagus tartine on bread from acclaimed Quito panadero Juan Omar Barreno.
1) Humboldt N27- 77 (González Suárez)
    +593 (02) 450 0073
2) Av. Pampite E3, s/n, corner with Vía Pillagua (Datu Deli - Cumbaya)
    +593 099 802 0274
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Fankør, which has quickly risen to be one of Quito’s top-notch roasters, just reopened their doors on January 7 with an overhaul of the cafe space and a new minimalist-jungle aesthetic. Fankør boasts a Giesen roaster and Ecuador’s only Victoria Arduino Black Eagle 388 espresso machine. The high-tech equipment brings the best out of the Ecuadorian-sourced coffee, including single-origin roasts from Loja, Imbabura, Zamora-Chinchipe, and Pichincha. Grab a flat white on site, or take home a bag of Fankør-roasted beans from Finca Maputo in nearby Nanegalito.

FYI: The first time I tried to find Fankør, the taxi drove around the block several times with no coffee shop in sight. Fankør has since added a sign, but you’ll still have to keep your eyes open and know where you’re headed. Look for a big white building with spiral stone columns—Fankør is on the first floor to your left. 
Av. 6 de Diciembre N31-89, between Whymper and Alpallana (Edificio COSIDECO - Batan Alto)
+593 098 025 5582
💵 only (for now)

Expect only the best at Isveglio, which is widely considered the progenitor of the specialty coffee movement in Quito. Isveglio encompasses a coffee shop, a roastery, as well as a coffee academy, which converge to provide an exquisite experience catered toward people who appreciate all the nerdy details about coffee. There is not, however, anything pretentious about Isveglio, as the shop is filled with people who love to share what they do. If you are new to Ecuadorian coffee, or coffee in general, the expert baristas will guide you through the menu, which also has illustrated diagrams of each drink. Coffee education is fundamental to Isveglio; as part of the coffee academy, Isveglio offers barista training courses, business consulting, and small group coffee tasting.

Admittedly, I only drink one thing every time I come to Isveglio. Even for those of you never add sugar to your coffee (me included), I urge you to try the tonka latte ($4.50), made with an Amazon seed reminiscent of vanilla, caramel, and honey.  Additional items of interest on the menu include a rose mocha, a cardamom macchiato, and a Long Island cascara tea. 
Isabel La Católica N24-682 y La Coruña (La Floresta)
+593 (02) 255 0838
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4. Stratto
Stratto just found an ideal new home as part of Lacé Market Colectivo, a market highlighting Ecuadorian entrepreneurs and products. Alongside the Stratto counter, you can find locally made marmalades, limoncello, charcuterie, and vodka made with Ecuadorian potatoes (genius!). As for Stratto, the passion for coffee and impeccable technique is unmistakable.

Along with coffee shop staples like espresso, cappuccinos, and flat whites, Stratto has a creative drink menu cleverly named after Ecuadorian cultural figures. Try the Mama Negra, an iced double espresso with coconut rum, chocolate, and milk, or the Cucurucho, a coffee frappé with whipped cream and a flavor of your choice. Save 25 cents (and a cup from the landfill) if you drink your coffee in the shop.

I also took home a bag of Stratto's take on Finca Maputo Sidra beans, which even through my amateur preparations, readily produce lovely floral and dried fruit notes.
Av. Diego de Almagro, Pedro Ponce Carrasco (Lacé Market Colaborativo - Batan Alto)
+593 098 343 2266
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5. Cima Café Bistro
With a natural interior with all shades of wood and neutrals, Cima Cafe Bistro gets my vote for the most peaceful coffee shop in Quito. Fresh flowers on every table and a ceiling made of draped burlap contribute to the earthy vibes. A selection of artisan bread is available for purchase, including a sourdough loaf with fig and almonds. And one evening soon, I’ll be back to try the Bee’s Knees cocktail with lavender, honey, gin, and lemon.

At today’s visit, I chose the coffee sampler ($5), which came with espresso, café con leche, and your choice of a V60, Aeropress, or French press brew. The particular coffee on the menu was a Pacamara variety from nearby Finca La Merced in Nanegalito, Pichincha. The Aeropress coffee came first, poured from an elegant black gooseneck vessel. I’m often haphazard in my Aeropress preparation, but this was a prime example of how aromatic and complex Aeropress brews can be. The espresso was equally distinctive—unlike any espresso I’ve ever had. The flavors were more mellow in the café con leche, blending beautifully with the milk.

Of all these coffee shop adventures, I think I'll be coming back most frequently to Cima.
San Salvador e7-174 y Pradera
+593 099 252 5451
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At Il Barista, you're immediately immersed into the process of coffee: the aroma, the equipment, and the technique. Unlike the standard coffee shop set up, the espresso maker isn't behind the bar, but facing the café floor.  Even the decorations themselves are coffee-related: the shelves are filled with a French press, an Aeropress, a Chemex, a siphon, and bags of Il Barista coffee (typica from Nanegalito, dry method, 7400 meters above sea level, notes of green apple). As seems to be a trend in Ecuador, the baristas wear stylized uniforms, here with Panama hats and denim aprons.

Il Barista falls on the pricier side of the Quito coffee scene (a latte was around $4.50), but well worth it for the elegant atmosphere and skillful execution. Beyond the coffee, Il Barista also offers sandwiches, fresh bread, desserts, tea, and cocktails.

Keep an eye on their Instagram page for live music announcements. 
Av. Amazonas y Av. De la República (Edificio Las Cámaras - La Carolina)
+593 (02) 226-3484
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Jervis is the quintessential sidewalk café: a black and white striped awning, large open windows, and a couple of dog-friendly tables in front. Back in 2014, this was a favorite stop of mine on the way to teach at nearby Escuela Politécnica Nacional, and I was recently heartened to see Jervis is still thriving and cuter than ever. For this visit, I ordered a flat white to accompany a new book and some prime people watching.

I didn't order any food this time around, but I remember the pear-camembert sandwich to be delicious. Come for lunch, stay for the afternoon coffee.
Guipuzcoa E14-27 y Lugo (La Floresta)
+593 099 840 0752
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8. Botánica (reopening February 2019)
Since 2014, Botánica has led the Quito café scene in their technical skills, environmental standards, and commitment to Ecuadorian coffee. Healthy options abound on the menu, including vegetarian sandwiches, a hummus plate, and zucchini carpaccio. The former location, which closed at the end of 2018, also included a recycled art studio offering handmade jewelry, bags made from billboard vinyl, and work from local artisans. Currently, Botánica is relocating a few blocks away, with an anticipated opening early February 2019. 
Vizcaya E13-18 y Valladolid (La Floresta)
+593 (02) 222 6512
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While some eclectic coffee shops in the US might gift you a jaded barista judging your lack of cool, Umami works in earnest and with a lot of heart. The (yes, very cool) barista was more than happy to explain about their collaboration with Finca Maputo as well as upcoming limited edition roasts. I ordered a flat white, the reputed speciality of Umami, which was delightful and perfectly executed.

The coffee certainly is a draw to Umami, but the floor to ceiling art gives the cafe its essential charm. Neon murals illustrate skulls, Ecuadorian folk figures (El Diablo Huma), and animals of Ecuador. Upstairs, cotton has been fashioned around the hanging lights to give the impression of storm clouds, and paper cranes dangle in the windows and throughout the cafe. If you're up for a board game night, you can find a collection under the staircase including Monopoly: Ecuador and Pictionary.

Vegetarian and omnivore-friendly lunch selection, including soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Coruña N27-100 y Manuel Iturrey
+593 (02) 223 8402
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10. 7 Campanarios Café de Ecuador
In my travels, I generally follow the maxim that touristy places spawn substandard food and drinks. In Ecuador, that often means overly foamed cappuccinos in parfait mugs. So, I didn't have high expectations when I stumbled upon 7 Campanarios right on Plaza Grande. To my surprise, they roast their coffee in-house using Finca Maputo beans, as well as Catucaí, Typica, and Caturra varieties from Loja. Since opening six months ago, they've developed their own brand of packaged coffee  (300 g/$6-$6.50), each accompanied with careful explanations of the tasting notes, elevation, and production process. While I wish every visitor would get to visit the whole scope of Quito's coffee scene, I'm thrilled that 7 Campanarios's accessibility and prime location offer a high-quality introduction to Ecuadorian coffee.
Chile OE4-56 y Venezuela (Plaza Grande, to the right of Hotel Plaza Grande)
+593 098 023 2227
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With a commitment to fair wages and environmental sustainability, the coffee cooperative Asociación Río Intag includes over 400 families in semi-tropical regions of the province of Imbabura. Indigenous, Afro-Ecuadorian, and mestizo families work together to grow, harvest, roast, and package the Río Intag coffee. Thanks to the association, local reforestation efforts are underway and farmers receive equitable pay for their beans.

You can find Café Río Intag at two locations in the La Floresta neighborhood of Quito: as part of art cinema Ochoymedio and a free-standing shop on the university side of Isabel La Católica. 
1. Av. Isabel la Católica y Galicia (Edificio Galicia - La Floresta)
    +593 99 974 2955
2. Valladolid N24-353 y Vizcaya (Ochoymedio - La Floresta)
    +593 (02) 290 4721

12. Águila de Oro
Even as modern speciality coffee shops are taking off around Quito, Águila de Oro remains a beloved Ecuadorian institution, complete with vintage signage, antique memorabilia, and coffee priced at $7/lb. Since 1948, the coffee shop has sourced their coffee from Loja, a renowned region for coffee in the south of Ecuador. Choose between various roasts of the café superior (Loja) or the medium roast café Bourbon (Noroccidente de Pichincha). No coffee is brewed on site, but the coffee roasting magic happens daily around 7 am.  Make sure you buy whole bean ("grano entero") to grind fresh at home. Update: This morning, I used my Aeropress to brew the Bourbon coffee I bought yesterday, and the coffee was just spectacular.

Sebastián de Benalcázar N3-123 y Espejo (behind Palacio de Carondelet, Centro Histórico)
+593 (02) 228 0523
Since I maxed out my coffee budget (and caffeine tolerance) several times over in the writing of this article, I didn't make it to all the places I would like to have reviewed. I haven't scoped out coffee in Cumbaya yet, and at a later date, I'll write about Quito's larger scale coffee operations like GallettiVeléz, and Sweet & Coffee.

I've been to most of these places before, but I don't have the proper details or photography for publication. However, these should all be solid bets for an outstanding cup of coffee.  If you've been to any of these places recently, please let me know, and I'll be sure to check them out. Same if you have a favorite coffee place I haven't mentioned!
  • Honey: A coffee shop I've been to frequently in Baños that just expanded to Quito. It's right on Plaza Foch, of all places. If the Baños local is any indication, they have superb espresso drinks and breakfast options. (Mariscal Foch E4-215 - Plaza Foch)
  • VafledagenThe coffee here is fantastic. And, where else in Quito are you going to find chicken and waffles?  (Citi Plaza El Quicentro, Avenida Naciones Unidas)
  • Achachay: Upstairs in Bahn Mi, you'll find pho, pad thai, and Korean fried chicken, but their ice cream shop offers creative local flavors as well as excellent espresso. (Andalucia N24-234 y Cordero - La Floresta)
  • Milagro Cotidiano Café: Get your espresso to go at this mobile coffee cart parked at the corner of Shyris and Portugal. 
  • Harlan's Brittle & Brownie: I can't decide which sounds more enticing--mac and cheese, snickerdoodles, or the coffee. In any case, I'll have to go soon to try it all. (Edificio Titanium Planta Baja, Catalina de Aldaz N34-181)

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