El Trapiche Farm, Galápagos

June 28, 2010

Trip OverviewBirdsReptilesSea Life • El Trapiche


When Antonio came to Galápagos many years ago, most people could make more money by fishing than by farming. So land was not expensive. Antonio and his family have been growing coffee and sugar ever since.

Anotonio's berries Coffee berries

Antonio showed us the coffee plants and their red berries. After peeling the fruit, the seed has a soft, whitish coating. Antonio says that this coating is where most of the caffeine comes from.

Pounding the husks loose Fanning away the husks

Though they have modern equipment now, Antonio showed us how things were done in the old days. After drying the beans, the husks were separated by pounding them with this big mortar and pestle.

Then the loose husks could be removed by fanning them. The dry husks blow away while the heavier beans fall straight.


While we were looking around the farm, the chickens were scratching away. The little chicks are kinda scruffy lookin, aren't they?

Sugar cane is the family's other crop. We took a walk through the cane field and learned about the different strains. Antonio showed us how to plant cane, and removed some lower leaves so that the stalks would grow taller. And he demostrated how to cut the cane when it's ready for harvesting.

Growing sugar cane
Squeezing cane

The donkey got very excited when Antonio called him over to the harness. The first revolution, he nearly ran.

That's Antonio's wife behind the mill, feeding stalks of cane into it. As each stalk goes through, it comes out flat and cane juice pours into the bucket below the mill.

After several stalks were pressed, we saw why the donkey was so happy. He gets to drink the juice!


Antonio showed us the huge pan over a fireplace where the cane juice could be concentrated into hard sugar. But we were more interested in the other process down the hill.

The big yellow tank is the fermenter. The contraption above the fireplace is the still. Antonio and his equipment look a little hillbilly, but that gadget measures the specific gravity of the fermented juice. He's very careful to use the latest science when making moonshine!

Fermentation Distillation

Antonio told us how he ran moonshine past the cops in the old days. When they stopped him taking his cargo into town, they'd ask "what have you got in here, Antonio?"

He would answer, "Moonshine!" But when they checked the jugs, the cops would find milk. Antonio had two part jugs, and put milk in the top halves. He was quite a joker when he was showing us around the farm, and apparantly was the same when he was running moonshine!

Serving drinks Tasting the moonshine

We tasted shots of straight moonshine, and also with a little anise. Strong stuff!

Antonio's wife also prepared some drinks that they called submarines. Fresh cane juice, Galápagos orange juice, and moonshine! Very tasty! The coffee was also very good.

Bye bye, family

The whole family came out to say goodbye. On the left is Antonio's son and his son's wife just behind. Then Antonio's wife and granddaughter and on the right Antonio himself.