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The Galapagos Islands: a remote Pacific archipelago off the coast of Ecuador. Renowned for its inspirational role for Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution, its diverse plant life and unique and dazzling wildlife. Here you will find animals that appear nowhere else on earth: giant tortoises, lava lizards, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and Darwin's finches. Exquisite turquoise seas. Mysterious cacti and mangroves. And Galapagos Island coffee.
Coffee production here seems remarkable, since most of the world's coffee is grown at high altitudes, and the highest point in the Galapagos is Volcan Wolf, at only 5,600 feet above sea level. Here in the islands, the beans are grown well below that height. The Galapagos Islands have two all-important things going for them when it comes to growing coffee - the unique microclimate and the rich, fertile volcanic soil.
What is the climate like in the Galapagos Islands?
The Galapagos is a chain of 20 volcanic islands and dozens of islets, sitting right on the Equator, 575 miles to the west of Ecuador. Influenced by the cooling Humboldt current and at the crossroads of northern and southern trade winds, the climate is nicely tropical. In the warm season from December to May, the average island temperature is 28C (82F) and this is when heavy rain strikes, particularly on the coast. The rest of the year is known as the dry season, with average temperatures of 25C (77F); the islands get a reliable 3 inches of rain annually.
Thanks to the warm equatorial ocean current combined with the humidity and the nutrients in the rich, volcanic soil, coffee beans are shade grown on the south-facing lower slopes, as low as 900 ft 1,200 ft above sea level. The growing conditions here are very similar to what you might find in Colombia at about 4,000 to 5,500 ft above sea level.
Galapagos Coffee Production
Island coffee production around the archipelago is on a small scale and hardly geared to the international market. Small farms with an occasional large estate are the norm. The unique ecosystem is jealously guarded, and coffee cultivation is permitted on only three islands. Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal are the main sites, with about a sixth of the output coming from the Santa Isabela coffee cherries.
Coffee is grown predominantly in the shade, on about 130 small farms making up 750 acres. Harvesting usually takes place between December and February; in a good year, the crop makes just 1,200 60-kilo bags, only 72 metric tons - a fraction of the 255,000 bags produced each year by Ecuador.
You are likely to find the trees planted at a rate of about 100 per hectare - a far cry from the 3,000-plus that is common in parts of Latin America. Coffee pickers in the Galapagos islands also tend to be paid more than their Latin American counterparts, which pushes up the price of the beans.
The Unesco World Heritage Site status was granted to the pristine paradise of Galapagos in 1984; its flora and fauna and unique ecosystem are rigorously protected. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides are absolutely banned, so all crops grown on any island are 100% organic, which adds to the coffee's extraordinary appeal.
Harvesting tends to take place in the wet season when heavy rains force the cherries from the trees and most beans are wet-processed using the rainwater. The high humidity makes natural, dry processing very difficult, so any drying has to be done in ovens, which adds to the cost.
‘Take it easy’ seems to be the farmers' motto: planting in the Galapagos is far from intensive, and the beans ripen slowly, becoming fat and juicy and larger than those from neighbouring areas. The plumper the cherry, the better the flavour of the coffee, so why rush them?
The farmers do get some additional, unexpected support: the giant tortoises that gave the islands their name feed on the weeds surrounding the trees in the coffee plantations.
A brief history of the region
Coffee is thought to have been brought to the Galapagos Islands by one Manuel Cobos, who in the late 19th century introduced Arabica Bourbon beans from the French Caribbean to San Cristóbal Island. Later colonial settlers added Caturra, Typica, Catuai, Catimor and Sarchimor from the Ecuador mainland. Mostly these are found on Santa Cruz island.
The coffee grown in the Galapagos island region traditionally found its way to local hotels and coffee bars. However, just as the tourism trade in this beautiful setting is growing - mainly among more affluent travellers - so is the popularity of its delicious coffee. Visitors from around the world take it home with them from a local shop in Bellavista on Santa Cruz, or El Progreso on San Cristóbal. Galapagos coffee is becoming highly sought after thanks to its glowing reviews. And just like a fine wine from a small vineyard, it commands a high price for its exclusivity.
What does Galapago Coffee taste like?
Think Galapagos and you think of somewhere delightfully unique, with its own extraordinary flavour... just like its coffee.
Derived from Bourbon plants, the top-quality Arabica coffee from Galapagos has a simply unique flavour. It makes a rich, full-bodied and creamy cupful with a chocolatey finish, and drinkers who like the taste of salted caramel will be coming back for more.
Bourbon is noted for its sweetness and complexity while the other beans grown in Galapagos add their own notes. Caturra comes from small trees first cultivated in Brazil; its flavour is less sweet, and it makes for a less full-bodied drink. Catimor is a recent hybrid of Caturra and the Robusta-derived Timor; a resilient plant whose cherries add a touch of bitterness. Sarchimor is a similar hybrid of Costa Rica Villa Sarchi and Timor.
Our Galapagos Coffee
Our Galapagos Coffee is a relatively rare medium roast with a delicious flavour when brewed. It has a slightly nutty taste with a chocolatey finish, and a low level of acidity. It's a perfect coffee for cafetieres, coffee for bean to cup machines, and coffee for filter machines.
If you are considering buying coffee from these unique islands, take at look at the recent Galapagos Coffee reviews from our customers:
“Lovely coffee, one of my favourites!!!!”
Inna S. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Excellent rich and stimulating. Almost too much complexity for a breakfast coffee.”
Mark J. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Love the taste, fresh and aromatic”
Larysa A. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“All aspects of the order was spot on,the coffee itself was is one of the best I’ve tasted”
Ian W. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Not sure which size bag you need? See How Many Cups each size provides.