Coffee and War in East Timor
History explains why East Timor’s coffee trees grow wild and organic in the mountains.
Coffee was first introduced to East Timor in the 18th century. Under Portuguese colonisation, the local rulers (liurai) in each district ensured that their farmers in the mountainous areas planted coffee trees on their land. Coffee became an important export.
During the Indonesian occupation that began in 1975, many coffee growers abandoned their plantations out of fear of guerrilla fighters lurking in the shrubs. By the time East Timor became an internationally recognised independent nation in 2002, most of the farms had become unmaintained forests.
Exhausted by the 24 years of war, people suffered extremely poor living conditions. Some villages began selling coffee again but were underpaid and did not have opportunities or equipment to add value to their coffee.
The Story of the Letefoho Village
To help improve the quality of living in a rural community named Letefoho, a non-profit organization Peace Winds Japan launched a coffee project in 2002 and provided processing equipment and training to the local farmers. The team strongly believed that the initiative would enable the village to produce higher quality coffee and see an uplift in incomes of those families who needed to fulfil basic daily needs.
3 tonnes of coffee from 30 farmers were packed with hopes and shipped to Japan in the first year. The project grew steadily each season with happy roasters and drinkers around the world. Today the project hits approximately 150 tonnes of export and supports 700 coffee grower households. This project was handed-over to Peace Winds Japan’s social business off-shoot Café Brisa Serena (CBS) in 2011.
Why Our Letefoho Micro-lots?
Our supplier CBS is the first and only specialty coffee exporter in East Timor. They have been regularly providing workshops to the workers to build quality awareness and competency. A group of experts at CBS professionally manages the supply chain and use meticulous quality assurance protocols from visual checks on parchment at farmers’ houses to green grading at sorting facilities and cupping. As a result of these efforts, Letefoho’s micro-lots have scored 86 and ranked No.1 at the national cupping competitions. You will not find better coffee in East Timor than Letefoho’s!
Relationship with Growers
We will pass on the excellence in the product to our customers and reward the farmers through our purchase price.
Every purchase upholds the fair pricing for the farmers. A 60% increase of income created through training activities in the past years meant a great deal to the grower families. Continuation of quality management through tools investment and training is the paramount factor that can help villages produce a larger amount of quality coffee for export and get out of starvation.
As the nation still stands at the opening of the road to recovery, we see our relationship ongoing and development-minded.
About Our Supplier
Café Brisa Serena is a social enterprise who strives to create values by improving the quality of coffee with coffee growers in the Letefoho region and connecting them to specialty coffee importers abroad. Today CBS sources from approximately 700 farmers and export 150 tonnes of specialty coffee annually.
6 Countries, 7,000 Farmers, 300,000 Euro
Since August 2017, BMP has been working with local social business partners in 6 countries and integrated approximately 7,000 coffee and cacao growers to the global supply chain. The trade value we have facilitated has reached 300,000 Euro as of June 2019.