March 12, 2010 § Leave a comment
El Junco Lagoon is a place you probably have never heard, yet it’s existence is the reason for Galapagos Coffee. El Junco is the Galapagos Islands‘ only permanent fresh water lake. It’s located on the island of San Cristobal at an elevation just over 2000 feet, in the belly of a collapsed volcanic crater. The lake itself is a tourist attraction. Visitors come to see the lake with its surrounding lush endemic plants and the many species of birds that come here to bathe in its sweet waters.
What does this have to do with coffee? It’s part of a combination that makes it possible to grow coffee here. The fresh waters from El Junco, the nutrient rich soils from the extinct volcano, and the surrounding micro climate combine together to create unique agricultural zone located within these pristine islands and an ideal place to grow everything from avocados, to oranges and even coffee.
The history of Coffee in Galapagos dates back to 1879, when Manuel Cobos (the so-called Emperor of Galapagos) established Hacienda El Progresso in this area. His hacienda was little more than a prison camp; he set up so he could take advantage of free inmate labor to harvest sugar cane and process the meat from sea turtles and feral cattle. In a section of the Hacienda called El Cafetel Cobos planted arabica bourbon beans and Galapagos Coffee began. His endeavor lasted until 1904 when his workers tired of his Machiavellian ways, revolted and killed him. Cafetel and the hacienda stood in ruins, abandoned for over 100 years.
In the 1990’s the Gonzales family purchased the land and realized that the coffee plants though ignored over all these years they continued to thrive. To the family’s delight they found when the beans were collected, dried and processed they produced a medium bodied coffee with a sweet caramel aroma, slight citrus taste with layers of leather and tobacco. As a result the Hacienda was revived and Galapagos Coffee was reborn.
Today, with the support of the local community, Galapagos Coffee is produced and sold at specialty coffee shops around the world. If you are planning a visit to the Galapagos we suggest a visit to the San Cristobal Highlands where you can visit the Giant Tortoise preserve to see the famed Galapagos Tortoises in the wild, visit El Junco lake and by special arrangement enjoy delicious lunch at the El Progresso Hacienda and try a cup of their special coffee.