Nicolas Balon has been working in the coffee industry for more than 15 years. He manages La Hacienda el Cafetal, a 500-acre coffee plantation on the island of San Cristobal off the coast of Ecuador. The plantation, which produces the only export of the Galapagos, is the largest on the island and focuses on a farming technique called “agroforestal” in Spanish. This practice, which is a way of farming that ensures the surrounding forest is not disturbed, goes hand in hand with the conservation efforts in the Galapagos.
The plantation employs local workers, such as Byron Vargas, who has worked on the plantation for 4 years. Living and working with a group of men that have become his family, Vargas is very proud of the work that he does and its impact around the world.
Balon also bought and renovated a coffee shop in town several years ago called the Mockingbird. He spends his days getting up with the sun to direct work on the plantation and his afternoons and evenings in the shop, interacting with his community and serving up “the best coffee in the world”. He dreams of one day owning his own small farm, being able to focus on the personal aspect of bringing quality coffee from farm to cup.