Producer Profile – East Timor
Roast Profile: Medium
Cupping Notes: A sweet spicey cup with notes of cloves, leather, tobacco and pepper; a bright orange acidity and a silky body leading a long malt, burnt toffee and walnut finish.
Despite East Timor Coffee exports making up less than 1% of the worlds coffee production, coffee plays a crucial role in the lives of many East Timorese. Approximately one quarter of the popular rely on the coffee industry for their income.
Prior to the country gaining its independence in 1999, most of the coffees industry had been devastated by civil unrest. Timorese people have suffered violent occupation by Indonesia, which has reduced much of the country to ruins and left a legacy of instability and poverty. As a result CCT members are very poor; there is high infant mortality due to insufficient health services, and 50% of the adult population is illiterate.
It has since been able to rebuild itself, with the country independence allowing farmers to sell their coffee without the restrictions they had encountered under Indonesian rule.
Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT)
The Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT) was established so that local farmers have the collective power to control the way they sold their coffee internationally. The Cooperativa Café Timor or CCT is the only Fairtrade organization producing coffee in East Timor. It is based in the districts of Ermera, Ainaro, Aileu, Manufafi and Liquica. Members of this cooperative are traditional small-scale farmers.
Due to the previous civil unrest, there are very few jobs in East Timor. CCT is a major employer and plays a significant role in the country’s development. The cooperative works closely with international organizations to support producers.
Coffee growing and Processing
For many members, coffee is the only household income. Crops such as rice, corn, cassava, beans, fruit and spices are also produced alongside coffee for household consumption.
CCT grow the high quality Arabica variety of coffee with the added advantage of being organically grown. The beans are often processed using the “wet-milling” technique, by which the beans are separated from the fruit of the pulp within 24 hours of being picked. Many farms are not accessible by vehicles so producers carry their coffee to the roadside where CCT picks up the harvest in trucks.
The beans are then soaked in water to remove the mucous membrane layer before they are sun-dried. This process adds substantially to the value of the coffee. Once the coffee is dried, it is called ‘parchment’. The parchment is then sorted and sent to the milling factory for the final stage of preparation to become ‘green beans’.
Benefits of Fairtrade
The availability of professional health care services in our village has saved the lives of many of our children and their mothers
– Mr Duarte do Carno
The cooperative has a General Assembly made up of delegates from the 444 community groups. The use of the Fairtrade Premium is decided at the annual General Assembly meeting.
At CCT, the Fairtrade Premium supports a number of projects such as:
- A business skills development program that provides members with training in bookkeeping, management, English language, and computer skills.
- A wholesale purchasing co-op that benefits the local community by providing consumer goods at reasonable prices to small retail outlets in rural areas. To date, this project has assisted over 3,000 members and their families.
The Clinic Cafe Timor, a development program within CCT, demonstrates the benefits to disadvantaged communities from Fairtrade practices. In response to the lack of available and affordable healthcare services in rural East Timor, CCT has allocated a substantial part of its Fairtrade Premium fund to health care.
There are currently 11 fully staffed clinics and 28 additional mobile clinics that service mainly rural areas. While the health clinics are for all cooperative family members, it is mostly utilised by women for pre and post-natal infant health care. The program currently reaches 115,000 people in rural and coastal Timor. Historically. these families have been poorly serviced or isolated from mainstream health services. Clinic Cafe Timor is the largest provider of rural health care in the country.
Economic: Diversification of income
With support from international organizations such as USAID, CCT has ventured into diversifying its operations. They hope to reduce their dependency on coffee and increase the benefits to those members who are only able to cultivate a small amount of coffee. The cooperative has successfully launched projects on organic production of vanilla and cloves and rearing cattle, and an agro forestry project which produces timber for construction and firewood.
Free health care for my family thanks to Fairtrade is very comforting to those of us who live in isolated areas, especially the children;s immunization program
– Mrs. Katerina Alves