Ecuador, the new coffee on the Wakuli block

In 2023 we sealed a brand new partnership with an amazing, trail-blazing partner in Ecuador. And we are convinced it will be a partnership for years to come. 

“This is one of those partnerships that continuously inspires me, in everything from Kat and Marlon’s journey to the fact that such beautiful coffees can thrive at just a few metres above sea level. A juicy, fruity coffee that comes from a kickass story of grit, humility and a lot of heart – definitely a Wakuli classic!
- Kerissa Narine, sourcing manager @ Wakuli

After more than three years of working closely on setting up a robust value chain, and deciding on a level of quality and fitting price that works for everyone, our friends Kat and Marlon from Alicia Roque and our sourcing manager Kerissa Narine were able to get it done! This spring we will offer a new Discover Monthly from Manabi, Ecuador. Here is what you need to know: 

Marlon Mera Falcones, a 5th generation coffee producer, started Alicia Roque, together with his partner Kat Castillo, with the vision to process a unique genetic variety of coffee that has been preserved within his family for nearly 100 years in hopes to share part of his patriarchal heritage in the local market.

Marlon witnessed some pretty nasty activities at every stage in the supply chain: theft, price manipulation, withholding payments, the loss of higher quality varieties when integrated with equally-valued poorer quality coffees, governmental associations that were taking out bank loans in the names of the producers to buy machinery that producers never had access to utilize, narcos lining their pockets on the backs of farmers, to name a few. These were some of the most important drivers pushing Marlon into the specialty coffee game. 

In 2019, his first year of processing, Marlon won the prize for the best cup in Northern Manabi, beating out the gold cup winner of Ecuador the year prior. In 2020, he took his time to experiment with different fermentation techniques, successful varieties, and produced and provided organic fertilizer and seedlings to the community members for soil improvement and higher quality yields, and at the same time researched international markets. 

Kat and Marlon made upgrades to their processing facility, building new drying beds to increase the amount of coffee they can collect and dry on a daily basis, fixing up their de-pulper machine so that they could reliably wash all the coffee themselves at a high standard, and narrowing their focus on a few processing methods that they were sure would guarantee a high quality, even at a larger scale. They found communities that were onboard with a new way of working, and drove out to their farms each day to collect the freshest cherries. They sorted out drying issues, were able to maintain consistent cupping scores, and are now able to scale their cherry purchases from producers with the goal of exporting to a direct specialty market.

Together with his partner Kat, Marlon supports his community by purchasing their coffee for the best prices in Manabi, which is almost double what buyers offered historically.

“Wakuli helped to build a supply chain upwards to the Netherlands, deciding together with Kat and Marlon which investments would be worthwhile to bring out the best of Manabi’s coffee in this first export.”
- Kerissa Narine, sourcing manager @ Wakuli

Kat and Marlon have set some crazy high targets for themselves.


  • Pay a premium, and sometimes double for coffee
  • Buy 90% or more of the harvests
  • Provide varieties of fruit trees and vegetable seeds that will offset food costs and provide crops to sell in local markets
  • Connect conscious buyers to communities that can help sell other products for market value


  • Save 8% of every sale to reinvest in community-led projects that will provide proper infrastructure for rural families
  • Education initiatives for children of coffee producers
  • Community led fundraisers and events


  • Plant native fruit species and native wood species for reforestation with a goal to reforest 1 hectare every year
  • Coffee seed bank
  • Provide microorganisms to regenerate soil nutrients and water resources

And now, with a focused team and over 100 members, Alicia Roque is ready to thrive in the specialty coffee industry. Alicia Roque aims for community-led decision making, organic agriculture and the protection of the basic needs of fellow farmers. This includes access to medical care, a price based on the cost of production, and youth education in hopes of developing local livelihoods and, above all, processing spectacular coffee.

All of this is why Wakuli is so excited to start working with Kat and Marlon. Because we see a perfect value fit and once more want to include our Wakuli loving customers to the equation. So we can change the industry one amazing cup at a time!

Ecuador, the new coffee on the Wakuli block