This coffee is grown by smallholder farmers located around Malabe, a village in the Ermera municipality in the west of Timor-Leste. The coffee here grows in the forests; shaded, untouched, and organic by default. The lot is made up of hibrido de timor
varieties that are hand-picked when ripe, and collected daily for processing at Raw Material’s wet mill and processing centre in nearby Atsabe.
We will be donating all profits from the sale of this coffee to Raw Material's Timor-Leste Flood Appeal. In April of this year Timor-Leste was hit by devastating floods and landslides that left over 14,000 people homeless, and without food or shelter. The government’s relief package focussed primarily on the capital Dili, but the more remote farming areas were also badly effected and require assistance to recover and rebuild. You can learn more about the impact of the floods here.
Having found its sovereignty in 2002, Timor-Leste is one of the world’s youngest countries. As its oil reserves begin to run dry, the development of the agriculture sector is rapidly becoming an important pillar for the structural transformation of the country’s economy, and coffee is set to become Timor-Leste's most vital export.
The municipality of Ermera is home to the largest coffee production volumes, but almost 60% of the municipality's population live below the poverty line. Productivity, however, is extremely low, alongside profitability which is both low and volatile. This is because almost all coffee is sold on the commodity market for a discounted “C” price. Our importing partner, Raw Material, met with groups of producers in villages across Atsabe to learn how the coffee market has served them in recent history.
On the back of these meetings, Raw Material and the producers developed a plan for a more prosperous future, that included: (1) sustainably raising and maintaining the quality of Atsabe’s coffee predictably above 80 points, (2) connecting with those roasters who want to commit long-term, and (3) systematically solving the many challenges that can obstruct the route to the speciality market, including financial, legal, cultural, infrastructure, and technical challenges.
Raw Material built its first custom wet mill and processing centre in Atsabe in April 2018, with a view to improving the quality of the coffee grown, and allowing the farmers to access the much higher prices commanded by the speciality coffee market. Raw Material drew on their experience working in other coffee-producing countries to combine elements that would most likely improve Ermera’s coffee quality given the unique set of challenges facing the region.
Each section of the mill uses materials that are local, and readily available. The mill uses gravity to move coffee through the various processing stages, which means no double-handling, and no unnecessary machinery. he mill serves not only as a central hub for processing the cherry of the producers Raw Material work with across Ermera, but also as a meeting point for the village chiefs and neighbourhood leaders. It also serves as a hub for training courses in both cultivation, picking, and processing for local producers.
The result in this instance is a beautifully clean and balanced coffee, with notes of cocoa, golden raisin and green apple.