“Great airport coffee?” Is that an oxymoron? Well, it’s a plain fact and no oxymoron at the Republica del Cacao stand at Cuenca’s Marsical La Mar Airport.
We discovered Republica del Cacao originally in 2013 in Quito, where they have a small coffee shop a few blocks away from our hotel. There I had the best latte I’d ever had, and we went out of our way to remember the name of the company. We were pleased to discover that Republica del Cacao had a large coffee stand at the Cuenca airport. They also have outlets in Peru, Columbia, and the U.S. They had been at the Cuenca airport for two years.
We took the bus to the airport this morning, specifically to try out the coffee there, and were not disappointed. Republica del Cacao had a long space on the ground floor of the airport, across from the check-in counters. The space includes not only a coffee counter, but also retail space offering a variety of high-end chocolates, gift boxes, hats, T-shirts, and liquors. There is comfortable seating for a dozen or so customers.
I ordered a latte ($2.50), and Jackie had a frozen mocha blanco ($4.20). Yes, these are airport prices, but it is, after all, at the airport. The latte was, as I remembered it, warm, lush, tasty. I had wondered whether it was because of the quality of the coffee or the milk, but decided that milk was . . . well, milk, and this was now the second time that I had experienced a good latte at a Republica del Cacao place, so it must be the coffee. No instant here.
Jackie’s frozen mocha blanco turned out to be an impressively huge mug of yummy goodness, not overly sweetened.
Their hours are long, to accommodate airplanes landing and taking off, from 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., 365 days a year.
Republica del Cacao is unique in that its chocolates are not sent to the U.S. or Germany for processing into finished chocolate. The company buys its cacao from some 50 different farms on the coast and the end-product is sold right here in Ecuador.
Most Ecuadorian chocolate companies send the cacao beans out of the country to be processed into chocolate only to have the packaged chocolate shipped back to be sold. Needless-to-say, this drags a sizeable carbon footprint along for the ride.
Obviously, Republica del Cacao also sell chocolate there, in a variety of percentages, plus white chocolate and pepper chocolate. Good stuff.
Republica del Cacao, at the Mariscal La Mar airport terminal in Cuenca; Hours: 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. 365 days a year; Notes: Wheelchair accessible; Expensive (for coffee); Major credit cards: accepted; Reviewer’s comment: Recommended.