Coffee was first grown along Ecuador's coast in 1860, but only became a major commercial focus after cacao crops were threatened by disease in the 1920s. Ecuador was soon well-known for low quality beans used in instant coffee. But as global coffee prices plummeted in the 1980s, so did coffee cultivation. Most Ecuadorian coffee is grown on very small farms, and small farmers could no longer earn back the money spent to grow and cultivate coffee. In recent years, however, a newfound interest in specialty coffee has led to exciting developments in certain pockets of the industry. These quality-focused farmers hand-pick each coffee cherry only when ripe, and adopt sustainable practices like shade-growing to ensure that Ecuador's one of a kind biodiversity is preserved and protected.