Overview of Timor-Leste (East Timor)
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.
Origin: Rotutu, Letefoho, East Timor
Producer Group: Rotutu Cooperative (12 farmers)
Lead Farmer: Francisco de Deus
Altitude: 1420 masl
Varietal: Typica, Timor Hybrid
Process: Fully Washed, African bed drying
Separated and Graded: Screen sizes 17-15
What we taste: Candied lemon, Black tea, Fudge
The Timor Coffee Variety
The name “Timor-Leste” may sound familiar because the word “Timor” is also the name of a widespread coffee variety. “Timor” also appears in other varieties like “Catimor” or “Sarchimor”, names that, like their coffees, are hybrids of the two parent plants’ names.
It’s no coincidence the name “Timor” is so ubiquitous in our variety names, the first widely studied hybrid was found growing in Timor-Leste in the 1920s. The hybrid was the product of one Robusta and one Arabica plant mating. The resulting plant, which soon came to be known as Hybrido de Timor, after the island on which it was found, took on traits from both parent plants. The Timor hybrid was resistant to coffee leaf rust (CLR), like its Robusta parent, but also had higher cup quality, thanks to its Arabica parent.
The discovery of the Timor Hybrid coincided with the expansion of CLR across most of Central and East Africa and Asia. Since CLR spores can remain in soils long after the infected plants die (making it difficult to replant the same varieties), new CLR-resistant hybrids became essential to revitalizing coffee production in these regions. Since Timor’s discovery, scientists have bred countless other hybrid varieties to combat the CLR epidemic and the older Timor variety has played a central role in continuing to breed new resistant varieties with good cup quality, such as Marsellesa, Obata and Oro Azteca, to name a few.
A Word From Karst Organics
Having worked together with the members of the Rotutu group since 2018, we have established a long standing partnership based on the common goal of producing high quality speciality coffee.
With an extended wet season presenting challenging drying conditions at the start of this year’s harvest, Francisco de Deus (lead farmer of the Rotutu group) who always has quality at the forefront of his work, was quick to propose changes to be made at our processing facility, to aid more effective drying of the coffee. Together with our team of 7 locally employed staff, we were able to build portable drying racks which could be laid out in the sun or moved under shelter and stacked on top of each other, to allow continued ventilation and drying of the parchment.
With steady year on year improvements in the quality of the coffee being processed at our facility, we are extremely appreciative of the work which our partner farmers and processing team are doing. Reflective of this and per our commitment to them, we increased our prices again this year, enabling our partner farmers to further increase their earning potential and provide a more consistent and sustainable income in which to support their families and the local community.
Continued QC checks throughout processing, has ensured that this year’s coffee, despite the impact of climate change, has enabled us to maintain Rotutu’s delicious flavour profile. We are also proud that our staff continue to share their knowledge and experience with other groups in Letefoho such as Cristo Liurai and Samoro, to find solutions to problems such as the challenging drying conditions that this year’s harvest presented.
Information and Pictures supplied by Karst Organics
How to store coffee at home
To keep your coffee as fresh as possible, you need to protect your coffee from air, sunlight, heat, and moisture. These all will contribute to making it stale and lose flavour.
We suggest keeping your coffee in an airtight container, in a cool, dry cupboard. Our bags all have a de-gassing valve, to let out CO2 that the beans produce once roasted, it’s not just there to sniff the coffee, and a reusable ziplock. So if you don’t have a fancy coffee jar just push the air out the bag, zip the lock and give the bag another squeeze to get any remaining air out.
Do not store your coffee in the fridge. Roasted coffee absorbs moisture from the air (hygroscopic) and will also take up surrounding aromas. The aromas and moisture levels in the fridge will react with the coffee and delicate flavours will deteriorate.
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