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About El Airo                                                                                        


El Airo is a small village located in the southern part of Ecuador’s Loja province known for growing the best coffee in Ecuador . It is in the northwestern part of the county of Espindola about 25 km from Amaluza, the county's capital.



El Airo’s name originates from the time of the patrones (ruling landowners), who named their hacienda (plantation), “el airo” because of its high elevation and corresponding high winds, deriving “airo” from the word “aire” or air in Spanish.


The highest parts of El Airo are near the presumed location of the Inca Trail through Southern Ecuador. This assumption along with the rudimentary stone tools and structure foundations discovered in El Airo suggests El Airo’s first inhabitants, prior to the development of the hacienda, were indigenous in origin.


El Airo remained a hacienda for a large part of the 20th century. Airenses, a mixed race population, worked the hacienda in exchange for a small subsistence plot of land until the 1960’s when Ecuador enacted an agricultural land reform leading to land distribution and freedom from the patrón.


In 1988, the leaders and inhabitants of the area began the political and legal process of converting the area into a recognized parish. Four years later on August 2, 1992, its people saw their dream realized and are now legally recognized as an Ecuadorian “parroquia” or parish.



El Airo’s economy centers on agriculture. The majority of families in El Airo dedicate themselves to the cultivation of coffee as a cash crop. This crop is the principal source of income for almost every family, organically grown and recognized as one of the best in Ecuador.


Sugar cane, yucca, banana and a variety of native fruits and vegetables are also grown for daily consumption. Most families also raise chickens, pigs and a few have cattle and cuyes (guinea pigs).


Because of coffee’s importance, the inhabitants of El Airo have organized themselves into coffee cooperatives. These cooperatives exist to improve crop management and quality and to negotiate better prices for members’ harvest. The organizations are Aprocairo, which placed second in the TazaDorada Ecuadorian coffee contest in 2009, Pro-Desarollo and Mercedes de Jesús Molina.


Natural Attractions:

The National Park Yacuri is within El Airo’s limits and as such several natural points of interest exist within the parish such as highland paramo lakes (Las Rositas) and several waterfalls, the most interesting of which, El Palmo, is located at 2,000 meters above sea level.






See more photos on Facebook!  CoffeeWorks: Help Harvest Dreams

Hear directly from a CoffeeWorks Volunteer Tourist on YouTube


Aerial view of El Airo, our remote village, hidden between southern Ecuador’s Andean peaks.

Children performing traditional Ecuadorian dances during the weeklong "Fiestas de la Parroquia" festival.

Festivities for the weeklong "Fiestas de la Parroquia" festival are held in the principal barrio of El Airo, La Huaca and take place throughout the community including the elementary and high school, like the above dance.

Sunset view of the Andes from El Airo.