our series, coffee shop days, brings the coolest, most stylish or unique coffee shops in South America to travellers searching for the perfect spot to enjoy a caffeine hit.
Kallari's chocolate is unique, not just in taste but also in provenance. Starting its journey in the Amazonian rainforest, this is one of few chocolates in the world grown, produced and owned by the cocoa farmers themselves.
Made up of more than 800 Kichwa (also spelled Quichua) families, the Kallari co-operative has created a sustainable and ethical business which allows its members to thrive independently in the face of the very real threats from oil and forestry companies in the Napo region. All of its profits are reinvested into their community.
Visitors to Quito are able to spend an afternoon tasting a variety of products made from their internationally award-winning chocolate in a small café owned, staffed and operated by the co-operative in the heart of bustling La Mariscal, Quito.
Although fair trade organic Andean coffee is available, we couldn't visit without sampling the signature hot chocolate. Dark chocolate - 70% cacao - is melted down to form a thick, rich and velvety smooth drink with the addition of specially selected spices bringing out the delicate notes of the chocolate, rather than detracting from it.
As is commonly served in Ecuador, and further north in Colombia, thin slices of cheese sit alongside the steaming mug, designed to be crumbled into the chocolate, melting at the bottom. It is an odd combination for those new to the country but one you certainly wont regret trying.
Fruit and herbal teas as well as daily fresh fruit juices are also served.
With good wifi and a homely, peaceful setting, Kallari is a great place to get some work done, or simply escape the frenetic streets of Mariscal. And yet, during a visit here you can't help but also learn a little about the history of the Kichwa and their greatest business success.
Beautiful portraiture of youngsters in traditional dress adorn the white walls, a TV displays documentaries, the small library is stocked with books and articles and the staff will happily provide a narrative to those who can speak Spanish.
Distressed wood forms simple yet beautifully constructed tables and window displays containing burnt red cocoa beans, a nod toward the cafe's roots.
In the back of the cafe, there is also a small shop selling Kichwa music, jewellery and other handicrafts. You are also able to purchase bars of Kallari chocolate and bags of cacao or coffee.
Set up during the day for those in need of a snack rather than a large meal, the menu offers a variety of finger foods with a strong Ecuadorian theme. Yuca features heavily, as well as the ubiquitous bolones, alongside a few sandwiches. Vegetarians are well catered for.
Despite a daily changing selection of desserts and cakes, the dense chocolate brownies are mainstay. Due to the quality of the chocolate used, its taste was much richer and bittersweet than your standard coffee shop brownie. It was divine.
what we drank
| spiced hot chocolate with milk and a side of local cheese
what we ate
| yuca chips with homemade guacamole
| brownie made with kallari chocolate, strawberry ice cream and fresh fruit coulé
the kallari café: location and social media
Based in the popular area of La Mariscal, just five minutes walk from Plaza Foch: Wilson E4 - 266 y Juan Leon Mera, Mariscal, Quito
Drinks and food were kindly provided by Kallari, but all opinions, photography and spelling mistakes are our own.
All photography is property of Along Dusty Roads and must not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without our prior permission.