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.
Timorese coffee is truly wild and organically grown underneath the imposing shade trees that dominate the landscape. With time old traditions in processing coffee, passed on from generation to generation, coffee is helping to build up more opportunities for Timorese people to create a consistent and sustainable income from which to support and provide for their families and the local community.
Being located at an altitude of 1800masl, the coffee grows in amongst the coffee forests surrounded by the imposing Ai-Samtuku (Albizia) shade trees. Underneath these trees, the coffee is provided with a good balance of sun and shade in which to grow and mature slowly, allowing for optimum sweetness when harvested and processed. All the members of the Eratoi group follow the same processing methods, ensuring that only the ripest cherries are picked and processed with the utmost attention. Carefully fermented for between 40-42 hours and dried on raised beds to an ideal moisture content of 10-12%.
Led by Simao Pedro de Deus, this group has steadily grown and now consists of 25 smallholder farmers, all hailing from previous generations of coffee farmers. With a strong sense of unity between all the members, the goal to process high quality speciality coffee is at the forefront of their work. Through this consolidated mindset, the Eratoi group continues to produce delicious coffee consistently year on year, with bold flavour notes balanced with a hint of sweetness.