We have been buying coffee directly from the village of Atsabe in Ermera, Timor-Leste for seven years, through Cooperative Cafe Timor. The coffee is some of the best Dean has had in his forty years in the coffee world. It is an origin that demands a higher profile in the world and we are happy to see that Starbucks is buying from Timor AND following our lead once again. (We brought in the first organic, fair trade Ethiopian into the USA in 2003 and introduced the farmers to Starbucks, Green Mountain and others who then purchased their beans). We have a great relationship with Atsabe, and have supported maternal health, schools and now a solar powered computer training program in the village. Timor-Leste is one of the hidden gems of the coffee world and like many of our world’s greatest treasures, it and (its farmers) deserve protection and support.
Here’s why: Coffee is Timor’s only significant export apart from oil and the oil is drying up. Given their government’s current spending rate, Timor’s cash reserves are estimated to be tapped out by 2023. Coffee could be a sustainable and reliable non-oil economic resource if the government chooses to invest in their coffeelands and revive their ailing farms. According to a recent article in the Economist, a third of Timor’s coffee trees are unproductive, withered by age and neglect while others are only yielding a fraction of what should be achievable. Some of the coffee trees are 40 years old and ought to be pruned or completely replanted. But doing so would mean sacrificing at least three harvests and farmers are hesitant or unable to do this without another viable income source. (Coffee plants typically take 3 to 5 years for new plants to begin producing and that is possible only with the proper combination of climate, sunshine, rain and shade.)
At Dean’s Beans, we work ongoing with Cooperative Café Timor to address production issues BEFORE they get to crisis point. We collaborate with our farmer partners to create ways to maintain sustainable income for themselves and their families. Hey, what do they say - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of coffee (I mean cure).
#THISISWHY we believe in and have long lasting trade relationships. We believe that capacity building is strongest when we maintain long-term relationships based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect (something you don’t get overnight or simply by writing a check). So check out some of Dean’s favorite coffee: Timor Atsabe and tell us what you think!