If you’ve never heard of Galapagos Islands coffee, you’re probably not alone. These rare beans haven’t had their time in the limelight (yet), but they have plenty to offer for the discerning coffee lover.
We look at what makes these beans unique and line up some of our favorite brands to try.
At A Glance:
The Best Galapagos Coffee in 2021
Production of coffee in Galapagos is minimal, so you’re probably not going to find these beans at your local cafe. If you’re finding it hard to track them down, here are a few good brands to start your search with.
If you want to experience the typical flavors of coffee from Galapagos, start with these beans. They have the smooth caramel notes you should expect to find with mild acidity with a medium roast. The Coffee From Galapago brand also makes a light roast with more fruity flavors and a dark roast that allows notes of chocolate to develop.
Though it’s not always certified, this coffee is by definition organic. Because of the area’s status as a National Historic Park, the law forbid the use of any chemical fertilizer or pesticides (1).
The OMG beans come from the island of Santa Cruz, selected from small family farms where it’s easier to maintain bio-agriculture standards. On the back of the pack, you’ll find a note. It lists some of the animals who are saved from destruction by this natural kind of farming.
Adriano Cabrera’s family history with coffee goes back three generations. This fact is impressive considering that people have been growing the crop on the Galapagos Islands since the late 1880s. Since the 1970s, he’s dedicated himself to the sustainable production of coffee at his farm in Santa Cruz.
The brand is connected to an organic sugar mill, where the waste is used to make biodegradable packaging for the coffee. Pretty neat, huh?
While most Galapagos coffee is wash-processed, these Galapagos Wild Coffee beans are naturally-processed. The additional time in contact with the coffee cherry helps the beans develop fruitiness that complements the natural sweetness.
3. Zaruma Gold Mountain Coffee – Budget Pick
Bean type: Bourbon, Caturra
- Best for: French press
- Ground or whole bean: Whole bean
These coffee beans are going to change the way you think about low-altitude coffee. Farmers have been growing Zaruma Gold Mountain at a small farm on San Cristobal, sitting at just 886 feet above sea level. You’ll be surprised to discover a well-developed cup with notes of rich dark chocolate, nuts, and sweet stone fruit.
The brand started to support farmers in Zaruma, who weren’t receiving possible prices for their coffee. Zaruma Gold Mountain now sells coffee from particular growing areas of Ecuador, including the Amazon jungle and the Andes mountains.
What makes Galapagos Islands coffee special?
On paper, the Galapagos Islands don’t seem like a great place for coffee growing. Most of the arable land sets below 2,500 feet – an altitude that usually produces bland or even poor-quality coffee. The law permits agriculture only on two islands, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, to protect the unique wildlife and ecosystem. But only San Cristobal has a source of fresh water (2). So how does this archipelago produce such great-tasting coffee beans?
…coffee from the Galápagos Islands can taste and roast like high-altitude coffee from other parts of the Americas.
Here, a special feature allows coffee farmers to produce beans on par with Mexican beans, Guatemalan beans, and coffee from the Dominican Republic. Flowing past the islands is the Humboldt Current, a low salinity ocean current originating as far south as Antarctica. The cool temperatures and moist air create a microclimate on parts of the Galapagos similar to what you might find at heights of more than 4,000 feet.
The islands do have their strong points for coffee production too. The plants benefit from the rich, volcanic soil, generally shade-grown under native trees.
The result is coffee that’s far from bland, with a strong aroma and medium body. Galapagos Island beans have a sweet, caramel flavor, with hints of chocolate and fruit and sometimes nuts.
Now that you know a little more about Galapagos Island coffee, we hope that you’ll keep an eye out for it. We like OMG Galapagos Island Coffee because of its typical island flavor profile. Yet, with limited supplies, it’s worth trying anything you can get your hands on.
Why is Galapagos coffee so expensive?
Galapagos coffee is expensive because of both the quality and the rarity of the beans. Although Ecuador is in the top 20 producers worldwide, coffee from Galapagos makes up a tiny percentage of this output at just 6,000 bags per year (3).
Does Starbucks sell Galapagos coffee?
Starbucks sells Galapagos coffee from time to time as part of the Starbucks Reserve collection. These are limited edition small lot coffees only available at select locations (4).
What is the denomination of origin?
Denomination of origin is a label applied to food or drink with a special link to a particular place, such as champagne or Iberico ham. This is also known as protected designation of origin (PDO) (5).
- Moeller, N. (2017, May 17). Galapagos coffee: A niche that’s waiting to become a part of the GALAPAGOS tourism experience. Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos – Ecuador. https://www.finchbayhotel.com/blog/galapagos-coffee/
- Galapagos island Coffee. Coffee with the Queen. (2020, May 31). https://thequeenbean.blog/2020/06/01/galapagos-island-coffee/
- Galápagos San Cristobal hacienda El Cafetal. InterAmerican Coffee Europe. (n.d.). https://interamericancoffee.de/coffee-selection/ecuador-galapagos-san-cristobal-hacienda-el-cafetal/
- Starbucks Reserve Coffees Bring Customers on Journey of Discovery. Starbucks. (2014, October 27). https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2014/starbucks-reserve-coffees/
- Denomination of origin. Moniberic. (2018, July 13). https://www.moniberic.com/blog/en/denomination-of-origin/