Las Tolas is an extraordinary place. The history alone is captivating. This producing region is located just a couple hours north of Quito in the department of Pichincha, a heavily forested area with epic Andean views. For the indigenous Yumbos, who based their year on a lunar calendar, Las Tolas proved to be the only valley with enough of a break in the clouds to provide a clear view of the moon. It is a sacred area with ruins still scattered across its forests.
Arnaud Causse was drawn to Las Tolas for a similar reason. Most of Northern Ecuador lacks proper levels of sunlight for optimum coffee production, but the break in the clouds in Las Tolas provides much needed light for coffee trees. The perfect amount of light, according to Arnaud. In addition to favorable sunlight, Las Tolas has outstanding altitude (1800-2100 masl), fertile soils, and receives an annual average of 1700mm of rainfall. In these conditions, under the shade of wild service trees, banana trees and mango trees, the cherries ripen slowly in an optimal environment to enhance the aromatic potential after roasting. Arnaud planted a couple dozen hectares over 10 years ago with some very exciting varietals that he brought from El Salvador: Tekisik Bourbon (my all-time favorite varietal), Caturra, and Pacamara.
Arnaud has an interesting story himself. He grew up in France in the mountains outside of Provence. After declining mandatory military service, Arnaud was shipped off to work on a Robusta plantation in Gabon, his first ever experience with coffee production. When his service was up, his interest in coffee was just taking off. Arnaud spent many years working on coffee projects in Ethiopia and Rwanda before finding himself in the Dominican Republic. From there he moved to El Salvador, then to Costa Rica, and eventually landed in Ecuador. Arnaud’s extensive agronomy experience is unique.