Ecuador began its involvement with the Coffee Quality Institute in 2008. For the first two years, we saw strong partnerships with both the In Country Partner Loja University in southern Ecuador and with ACDI/VOCA who has a USAID project in Ecuador. These years were very successful, resulting in a boom of Q Graders, a national competition, and advancement of a specialty coffee sector.
Ecuador is a key country for the Q Robusta program, and the local coffee sector is very interested in producing fine robustas. In 2015, a Pre Q Robusta and a Q Robusta course were funded by CRS and implemented by the Ecuadorian Specialty Coffee Association (ACEDE).
Over the years unfortunately there have many ups and downs as far as progress. This has been both because of change in leadership and funding. In 2013 the Ecuador Specialty Coffee Association (ACEDE) was started and given a government grant with the Ecuador Ministry of Agriculture. From here, CQI’s Executive Director David Roche and ACEDE’s President Luis Nicolas Velez signed a 3-year agreement in El Salvador to further Ecuador’s growth in the specialty coffee sector. This plan includes taking a step-by-step approach by first creating an infrastructure with ACEDE primarily through cupping training and certification. One of these was a Q Robusta training in Guayaquil as a part of a contract with the Catholic Relief Services.
Since CRS closed their Borderlands project in Ecuador, current work now focuses in finding a partnership with local stakeholders, like the National Coffee Association of Ecuador or the Ministry of Agriculture. Ecuador has kept current with Q graders and there are several individual leaders in the country. They have improved their overall quality and image, but there is much work to do.