Just outside of Cuenca, in the nearby town of Saraguro, lies Hacienda la Papaya, a culture rich coffee plantation and beautiful bio-diverse tourist destination. If you’re looking for an excellent weekend trip near Cuenca read on to discover more about Hacienda La Papaya and its unique, cant miss offerings.
Hacienda La Papaya has existed since 1666. An old ranch in the southern highlands of Ecuador, it was never a place for government activities, yet it suffered the scourge of its fields and homes as a result of the Great Colombian-Peruvian War of 1829. Oblivion and negligence, by various governments, took their toll on the development of the region and the ranch itself. Its historic past, and its owners’ efforts to rebuild it, allow us to live its history, experience its culture, and enjoy its wonderful and unique biodiversity.
A new age has begun. A traditional ranch has survived time and change, becoming a functioning coffee plantation and tourist destination. Hacienda La Papaya is a proud and timely establishment that has steadily weathered many storms and yet still provides an idyllic escape for its many visitors. Now, the hacienda is looking to the future by focusing on social and environmental responsibility both in the tourism industry and the coffee industry.
Coffee Production at La Papaya
San Lorenzo coffee is one of the many types of arabica coffee. Named after the patron saint of the ranch, this coffee is the first to be grown using the latest technology, and is distributed throughout the region. The coffee plants must grow in the very irregular topography that is characteristic of the Loja province. Protected by the haughty spirit of Saraguro’s indigenous people, the beans are grown at an elevation of over 6,000 feet. The unique geography produces a high quality, 100% arabica coffee.
The various types of arabica coffee grown at La Papaya has been evaluated by professional tasters from around the globe. And since the very first harvest, the coffee has been classified as a specialty coffee referred to as “gourmet.” San Lorenzo coffee is exported to several countries.
Why You Should Stay at Hacienda La Papaya
It is not just the beautifully restored rustic facilities of the hacienda and the breathtaking scenery that makes this a top destination for tourists – it’s the experience. Guests of Hacienda La Papaya get a behind-the-scenes look at how coffee is grown, harvested and processed. It is the perfect place for bird watching, mountain biking, horseback riding, and exploring the beauty of Ecuador.
The grounds are surrounded with inspiring examples of nature’s bounty. The Cerro de Arcos, Baño del Inca, Santuario de Agua Santa, and Washapamba forest can all be enjoyed from the comfort of the villa. Peacocks flaunting their gorgeous feathers and horses roaming freely across the plains add an element of wonder to this incredible backdrop.
Another of La Papaya’s exquisite offerings can be found in its kitchen. A team of experienced chefs – who also own the Shamu i Co, Espai Gastronómic restaurant in the city of Saraguro – have created a unique menu of fabulous dishes that blend the best of international flavors with the traditional cuisine of the region. Young, smart, and full of love for the land where they were born, chefs Samuel, Alexandra, and Edu are worthy representatives of the Saraguro people. And chef Cristina, who is of Spanish decent, brings a playful Iberian presence to the daily duties of the kitchen.
One of the most popular activities offered on the ranch is the full plantation tour. This allows guests to see exactly how coffee is produced at La Papaya.
The tour begins in the nurseries where the coffee plants are grown. Guests will also see how the coffee is harvested and watch the debugging process.
The production portion of the tour encompasses the drying (wet milling) process, the threshing, the classification, the roasting, and the dry milling (grinding) of the coffee beans.
At the tour’s close, guests are given a delicious cup of freshly processed San Lorenzo coffee. The tasting portion of the tour focuses on immersing the senses in the characteristics of the coffee. Guests learn to identify different coffees by aroma, flavor, body, and acidity. This allows them to differentiate between different types and qualities of coffee.
Head of production and management Juan Peña Guillén used his years of experience in rose exportation to found the coffee production business at Hacienda La Papaya. His passion for his country and his people spurs him to be an industry leader by continually pursuing responsible innovation.
Hacienda La Papaya has participated in a program at the Business University that aims to facilitate collaboration between leading businessman to fuel the economic and social development of Ecuador. La Papaya also allows university students to complete the practical training portion of their education on the grounds.
At present, Hacienda La Papaya provides employment for locals in the Loja province, who – as in past centuries – combine their work in the fields with their work in the mines. Coffee production allows owners and growers to obtain financial loans to help form partnerships with workers and investors to develop more farms and plantations in the region.
If you would like to learn more about Hacienda La Papaya, you can visit their website by clicking here.