TIMOR LESTE – THE POWER OF PROCESSING
Three new micro-lots from one of the world’s newest countries! Timor-Leste!
Introducing Malabe Village of Timor Leste and three amazing new micro-lots to the Zest family! Farmed in the Ermera region.
Few other coffee stories have captured our attention like the coffee trade in Malabe Village, Timor Leste. Working closely with the team at Raw Materials, who process, mill, and import Timor Leste coffee lots to Australia, we uncovered the unique way in which coffee is produced by this village.
Unlike the general farming methods of cropping and harvesting, the people of Malabe Village use the coffee that grows naturally around them. Better described as ‘coffee collectors’ than farmers, entire families set out into the forest to find the ripest cherries growing in the wild. Collecting the cherries is no small feat! Collectors are often required to climb up the tall trunks of these untouched coffee trees to collect the best cherries! As more of the story was unfolded, we were thrilled to find out that Raw Materials works directly with the Malabe Village community to collect, process and mill the coffees meaning a direct and highly traceable supply chain from our roastery right back to Malabe Village. The coffee cherries are collected by Raw Materials’ manager, Ameta, who arranges for a weekly truck pick up, piloted by his Uncle Jon, who transports them to the Atsabe Wet Mill. As Raw Materials’ first custom mill, Atsabe boasts a clever system that uses gravity to move the coffee through the stages. It is here where the magic of our three coffees happens. The natural, washed, and honey processes are all carried out using local workers and locally supplied materials.
What originally drew us to these three coffees was the opportunity to share with Coffeekind the impact of coffee processing. By purchasing these identically sourced coffees, differentiated only by the way they have been processed, we could give you all the opportunity to taste them side by side, in order to gain a deeper knowledge and appreciation for natural, washed and honey processes.
To cover the basic analogy of these three lots, here is a brief background of the area. Timor Leste is one of the world’s youngest countries, gaining sovereignty in 2002. Just a couple miles north of the tip of Australia, this small third-world country is facing large economic uncertainty as their once prominent oil reserves are now drying up. This puts a new focus on agriculture, especially coffee, as the country’s next biggest export. Thousands already rely on coffee for income, and this number will continue to grow as oil becomes in short supply. To reiterate the severity of this situation it’s worth noting that an astonishing 57% of the Ermera region’s population are still living below the poverty line.
The Malabe Village sits at around 1700-1800 MASL in a region called Erma that lies slightly South West of the country’s capital city, Dili. The coffee is an interesting varietal by the name of Hibrido de Timor and Typica that grows wild in surrounding forests. Processing and exportation preparation occurs at the Atsabe Community Wet Mill.
It’s amazing that coffee grown in the wild can score an incredible 87 points, but the Natural variation of this Timor Leste coffee did just that! This lot boasts a punchy mouthful of raspberry, peach, raisin, and nutmeg flavours. These highly sought-after flavours were achieved through a 21 day natural drying period on African raised drying beds. The raised beds help to dry the cherries consistently by allowing even airflow around each cherry as it naturally ferments.
Again the washed coffee really brightened up our day. After being stripped of their outer skins and surrounding mucilage, the coffee seeds were washed with water and then dried for 25 days on raised African drying beds. The result is a clean cup of chamomile, orange, lime, and hazelnut flavours. For all coffee drinkers who enjoy a beverage with some zesty, fruity, notes, this one’s for you!
Number three was a Honey processed lot. A less common process, honey is the ‘middleman’ between natural and washed processing techniques. The honey process is when some of the sticky mucilage is left on the coffee seeds after removing the skin. This residue ferments during drying and imparts fruity flavours to the coffee. The exact drying procedure Raw Materials used was quite an interesting one. After three weeks of the coffee being dried on a mixture of Colombian, Timorian, and African style drying beds, the coffee was transported to a much lower altitude to be fully shade dried for another three weeks in Railaco. This change in altitude resulted in a unique flavour profile of pineapple, coconut, honey and vanilla. Sweet and vibrant!
We love that these Timor Leste lots are a true testament to the amazing flavour quality that mother nature can produce. We are seeing high-end coffee farmers return to harvesting trees in these more biodiverse habitats for this very reason. After all, the coffee tree is always going to be its healthiest when allowed to grow naturally.
As a company that is all about helping small-holder coffee farmers, working with an amazing company like Raw Materials is a joy. But it wasn’t until we heard of unprecedented flooding in the exact area in which our new arrivals had originated, that we knew these coffees could be used for something much more than spreading great coffee flavour. That’s why we are super excited to be partnering with Raw Materials to send urgently needed funds back to Timor Leste. $1 from each 250g coffee bag sale of the Timor Leste coffee will be donated to Raw Materials’ charity that is injecting funds directly back into the coffee farming areas, where it is needed the most.
Thanks for helping the people of Malabe Village with your purchase of these flavoursome gems. Improve their lives while enjoying an exotic specialty coffee flavour discovery!
Thank you, Coffeekind.