Scoping out coffee shops in an unfamiliar city is a favorite activity of mine. Interestingly, though Ecuador exports over 130 million pounds of coffee a year, few typical restaurants serve anything but instant Nescafé. (Gag). It was a challenge to find a good cup of coffee in the city.
When I found Kallari Café in the Mariscal district of Quito, I was reassured that there were people in Ecuador who love coffee as much as I do.
Altitude sickness was affecting me with relentless persistence during my first few days in the country; I had an annoyingly mild headache that hadn’t gone away since I landed, and couldn’t seem to catch my breath, even after walking up the slightest hill. A relaxing afternoon cup of coffee was in order after a morning filled with activity.
One glance at the menu… and decided a second lunch and decadent dessert was actually what was in order.
After a satisfying plate of parsley yuca cakes, I wandered a bit around the café. I soon learned that Kallari was more than an oasis of coffee and snacks — it also sold an array of sustainable chocolate and artisan crafts in the back of the café.
Kallari is a community-owned coffee shop, owned by an association of Kichwa communities in the Napo province in the Amazon. To my excitement, I also learned the cacao they source for their bars are of the ‘Cacao Nacional’ variety. Cacao Nacional is a Slow Food Presidium product, an endangered food whose growers are given support by Slow Food’s Foundation for Biodiversity.
Here I was, 3,000 miles from Boston, reading a brochure in Spanish about how Slow Food had helped this community of producers flourish — it had my heart swelling with pride for our international Slow Food movement, and the piece of it that is alive at Northeastern.
(The brochures say: “How delicious it is to eat healthy & eat the food of my land” and “Together we’re cooking up a revolution”)
So content with the Slow Food vibes I was receiving in this beautiful café, I lingered for another hour with my book, a latte, and some niblings from the Kallari chocolate bars I purchased. (Flavors included Andean Salt & Lemon Grass, Vanilla, Hot Chili & Wild Cinnamon, and Orange. Yup.)
I visited Kallari as many times as possible before leaving Quito!
Wilson E4 -266 y Juan Leon Mera
La Mariscal Quito – Ecuador