Every world-class city has a hidden gem, or two, that reflect the grace and style of the people and their environment. Cuenca has Barranco, a sweet little coffee house in the back, and up the stairs, of the Museo del Sombrero de Paja Toquilla (Calle Larga 10-41 y Padre Aguire).
Surprisingly, Cuenca has only recently become a “coffee town.”
When Juan Jose Paredes opened Barranco, above his parents’ factory and museum a year ago, he said, “People my parents age were skeptical. One gentleman ordered an espresso and wondered why the cup was small but the flavor big.” Although Ecuador has long been regaled as producing some of the world’s finest coffee, most of the best stuff was shipped abroad, and people maintained their fondness for teas. Tea-making plants like chamomile grow wild in these parts and is free for the picking.
But, all that is changing rapidly.
Paredes continued, “Our goal is to change people’s perception of coffee. By offering selections from regions as close as Loja, and Vilcabamba, we are able to introduce our customers to great coffee that we grind by the cup and carefully prepare.”
A brief sampling includes Espresso ($1.50), to Mocaccino ($2.50).
Paredes is in no rush. In keeping with a tradition his family has had for 150 years, he is taking care to perfect one thing at a time. In the next few months, they will begin offering homemade desserts and selections from Amadao.
But until then, there will be many times when, while running errands, or simply taking a well-deserved stroll along Calle Larga, that you might wish for a tasty cup of coffee in a venue that is quiet and tucked away from the rush of downtown. Barranco is your place.
What was once a family home is now a lovely place to spend some time reading — and sipping excellent coffee. It is like being their guest. It is just like home.
Barranco Coffee Shop, Calle Larga 10-41 Hours: Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat. 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. , Sun. 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Credit cards: Cash only.Notes: Not handicapped accessible. Pet-friendly. Reviewer’s comment: Recommended