One of our nearest coffee neighbours, East Timor has had a tumultuous history with war ravaging its land, its coffee crops and its people. While the people have experienced great trauma and upheaval it has never stopped them from their natural inclination for hospitality offering coffee to those in need. This has created a bond between the East Timorese people and the Australian Army going way back to World War II.
In 1941, British and Australian soldiers formed a guerilla army called Sparrow Force which were called on by the Dutch army in East Timor to fight the Japanese who were trying to invade the country. For more than two years, this group of soldiers resisted all attempts by the Japanese to take East Timor, ultimately ending in failure. During this time, the Sparrow Force were left to their own devices with very little food and drink. This is where the native East Timorese people stepped in to help with their supply of local food and, most importantly, coffee. Grown, picked and roasted by the East Timorese, the soldiers enjoyed freshly brewed coffee with wild grown honey. This display of hospitality and kindness surely gave the soldiers of Sparrow Force the drive, determination and energy to fight with all they had against a determined enemy.
Even today, the Australian Army holds a fondness for the East Timorese people who continue to provide freshly brewed locally grown coffee to battalions of visiting soldiers. Some Australian servicemen have even returned to East Timor, tracking down the friendly locals who helped them with something as simple and nourishing as a cup of coffee when they needed it most. These soldiers have helped the East Timorese people set up their own businesses, streamlining their coffee production providing them with a future and a steady income for their families and communities.
Sacred Grounds & East Timor
Like these Australian soldiers, we also want to give back to the East Timorese people. This country has experienced more upheaval than we can ever really comprehend and this is one of the reasons why we choose to source some of our coffee from this tiny nation. Not only has its past been troubled but the effects of it lingers today with high levels of poverty, 50% infant mortality rate and half of all East Timorese are illiterate. There are still so many problems but one of the solutions that has been a crucial part of the healing process has been coffee.
We work closely with our producers in East Timor, the Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT) who have been operating since 1994. Today CCT boasts 23,000 members across 16 cooperatives and 494 small farms. Fairtrade certified in 2001, this co op has made a massive impact on its surrounding communities with projects such as a business development program, a wholesale purchasing co op and 11 healthcare clinics and 28 mobile clinics to provide medical attention for those who can’t afford it.
Coffee crops are grown alongside rice, fruit, beans, spices and more providing a really unique environment for beans and the farmers themselves to thrive. And the taste? We use East Timorese coffee beans in our Neighbours Blend that has a beautiful combination of subtle berry with a nutty aftertaste.
Shop for Sacred Grounds Neighbours Blend here…