The Story of East Timorese Coffee
Coffee has been grown in East Timor since colonial times under
the Portuguese. By 1865 coffee accounted for over 50% of the value
of exports from the colony. Under Indonesian rule, Timorese coffee
growers were forced to sell their produce through a company owned
by the military at lower than standard world prices. Indonesian
militias destroyed much of East Timor's coffee industry after the
1999 referendum, but it is quickly rebuilding with international
Although East Timor accounts for less than 1% of the world's
coffee production, coffee is currently the country's major export
commodity and provides a substantial income for nearly a quarter of
Most coffee grown in East Timor (about 80%) is the high-quality
arabica variety and has the added advantage of being grown
organically. Some of the crop is processed using "wet-milling" or
washing, by which the beans are separated from the fruit of pulp
within 24 hours of being picked. 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.
The traditional and more common method is to sun-dry the
cherries after they are harvested then remove the pulp and sell the
beans for further processing in another country.
After initial "wet milling" or dry processing the majority of
the crop is sent to Indonesia for further processing. Between
85-90% of Timorese crop is exported.
Depending on how it is processed, growers may receive from US$1
per 0.10kg to US$1 per 0.70kg. A recent World Bank estimate gave
the annual cash income for an average coffee-producing family of
six people as US$200 of which 90% comes from coffee.
Source: Friends of Bacau
Timorcorp - A leading coffee producer
Timorcorp was formed in July 2000 by Kenny Lay as a direct
result of desire to give something back to his native mother
country, and repeated requests by leading East Timorese officials
for advice and and expertise in developing the small emerging
nation's coffee industry in the international market place.
The business is primarily focused on providing high quality
processed raw coffee beans grown in East Timor for export to the
world, and is now in a position where it has clearly established
itself as the leading exporter of Timorese grown coffee to the
Address: Delta 1, Rainakadoko Dom Aleixo, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: (+670) 332 2502
Fax: (+670) 332 2502
Cooperativa Café Timor
In an effort to boost East Timor's economic growth and raise
incomes for farming families, USAID has supported the work of the
Cooperativa Café Timor, a federation of Timorese owned cooperatives
that produce and export premium organic coffee. The Cooperativa
Café Timor and its sister cooperatives count more than 20,000
member families who grow coffee, the country's most valuable
Since first starting to work with USAID in 2000, the cooperativa
has opened a training academy for crop diversification, provided
business training to entrepreneurs, developed export markets, and
opened trade links with neighboring Indonesia.
Coffee remains a major crop in East-Timor, with exports totaling
$7 million in 2004. The cooperative has significantly improved
global market opportunities for coffee crops. For instance, it has
earned organic and Fair Trade certifications, enabling members to
demand higher prices for their coffee. One of the cooperative's
largest coffee buyers is Starbucks, which sells the Arabian Mocha
Timor blend around the world.
The Cooperativa Café Timor has now become a self-sustaining
business model for coffee production and export activities. USAID's
assistance is part of an effort to help East Timor diversify and
increase agricultural production and expand both domestic and
international markets for its products.
For more on CCT see:
Where to buy East Timorese Coffee in Australia
East Timor coffee blend - decaffeinated, universal grind, or
beans - is available from the Friends of
Same at $7 per 250g pack. Resellers set their own price.
The website includes a list of Victorian retailers which sell East
Butler, Friends of Same.
Tradewinds tea and coffee is a not for profit organisation that
imports fair trade, organic and locally packaged coffee from East
Timor. It's sold only through mail order and a few select shops -
see Trade Winds for details.
East Timor coffee is sold by the Friends of Aileu in Victoria for $6.50 per
250g pack. It is available by phoning 9240 1111, or from any of
Moreland and Hume Councils' citizens' service centres. All proceeds
go to the community of Aileu in East Timor.
The Friends of Baucau in Victoria also sell East
Timor coffee blend at $6.50 per 250g pack at all Customer Service
Centres in the Yarra and Darebin local government areas and it is
soon to be available through all Libraries and Leisure Centres in
Darebin and Yarra. 50% of the proceeds go to Friends of Baucau
projects to help East Timor.
Starbucks is one of the largest purchasers of Fairtrade
Certified coffees in the world. The East Timorese blend offered in
Australia is Timor Lorosa'e. Further information on Starbucks'
involvement and support of the East Timorese coffee industry can be
found on its website. A short video on Starbucks' work with
Co-operative Cafe Timor can be found here.
Oxfam stores around Australia sell East Timor
Fair Trade Organic coffee.
Fair Trade Coffee Company in Glebe, Sydney make
their own blend of coffee, Sacred Grounds, that contain East Timor
fair trade beans. They are operated by Palms Australia and proceeds
contribute towards volunteer programs in developing countries
including East Timor.
We would love to hear from any other groups who sell East
Timorese coffee. Please contact us so that we may feature your group
on this page.