We have sourced this special coffee from our trusted partners Karst Organics. Situated in South East Asia with Australia to the South, Timor-Leste holds the unenviable accolade of being one of the few countries in the world to have been both colonised and annexed; colonised by Portugal from 1600s to 1975 and annexed by Indonesia from 1975 to 1999. Having finally gained independence in 2002, Timor-Leste is the world’s second youngest nation state and still finding its feet in the geo-political world of the 21st century. Coffee was introduced to the island by the Portuguese and went on to become the country’s leading export by the 1900s, however the industry suffered greatly during the years of Indonesian annexation when the sector was largely ignored.
Fast forward to the present day and you will see that the coffee farmers of Timor-Leste are working hard to collectively carve out a place for Timorese coffee in the global speciality coffee market. With the assistance of international aid, local NGOs and certain factions of the private sector, capacity building has been identified as an essential focus to facilitate the Timorese people in developing their country and slowly establishing itself as its own autonomous state after years of unsettlement.
Sadly, according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) it states that a third of the population of East Timor suffers chronic food insecurity and according to the government’s Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, this figure rises to between 55-58% in the coffee producing region of Ermera; in which around 50% of all Timorese coffee is grown, including the sub-district of Letefoho where we work with our partner Karst Organics and their farmers.
Our buying practices have been built on a foundation of trust and confidence and reflect the incredibly hard work required by our partner farmers to produce the speciality coffee that we sell. We believe that they are the ones who should truly benefit from the fruits of their labour and we aim to guarantee a consistent and sustainable source of income.
In May 2019, Karst collaborated with the Associasaun Café Timor (ACT) to provide training programs around quality coffee processing and coffee cupping, enabling farmers to have a better understanding of their product and how different methods affect the final flavour of the coffee. A strong emphasis was initially placed on selective picking – and moving away from strip picking – to highlight that the quality of the final coffee is highly dependent on the ripeness of the cherry that is picked.
This is the first coffee Karst Organics has selected from the Samoro region, having worked closely with Orlando, the lead farmer of Samoro area, and the other members of the community for three years. As Samoro is situated to the East, they experience warmer ambient temperatures which in turn results in warmer water during processing. This allowed for more concentrated fermentation which we believe has produced a coffee featuring slightly bolder flavour notes.
Timorese coffee is celebrated for its clean, smooth body and complex aroma. Truly wild and organically grown beneath the shade trees that dominate the landscape. With time-honoured processing traditions passed down through generations, coffee presents opportunities for the Timorese to secure a steady and sustainable income, supporting their families and communities.
Samoro is truly a sacred part of Letefoho, with a long standing history in coffee farming and strong ties that date back to their Animist cultural traditions. As with all coffee farmers in Timor-Leste, Orlando and the other members of the Samoro group grow their coffee underneath the shade of the Ai Kakeu (Casurina) and Ai Samtuku (Albizia) trees. You will often find them inside their coffee plantations not only tending to and harvesting their coffee, but also other crops as part of their main food source.