Timor-Leste (East Timor) is a tiny island between Australia and Sulawesi, annexed by Indonesia and liberated in a referendum several years ago. Small scale coffee farming was jump-started before the independence by cooperative farming associations with funding by USAID grants to revitalize the rural economy and give small farmers a cash crop. The independence of the coops and the presence of NGO groups in the country emboldened the spirit of the Timorese toward independence. The majority of the coffee is from East Timor and directly benefits the organic farmer’s cooperatives, rather than being directed to the pockets of exporters and middlemen.
Timor has 2 major regions producing coffee: Maubisse is higher-altitude terrain than Aifu region. Maubisse is a little brighter so most brokers / cuppers prefer it over the Aifu, but if you selectively buy from the best lots the Aifu can be every bit as good. Early in the crop cycle the Aifu cups best, and later on the Maubisse is a little better.
Interestingly, Timor coffee is also cultivated from its own distinct Timor varietal, which was crossed with Caturra to create the dreaded Catimor. While both Caturra and Timor are respected old-school varietals, Catimor is appreciated by farmers for its rapid growth and production of coffee cherry, but does not cup well next to either of its parent varietals. Coffee was planted in Timor and East Timor by colonial powers and by the mid-nineteenth century it was a major export crop of the island. East Timors coffee producers are more gatherers than growers – as they do not intensively farm the coffee. This may be a reflection of the animistic beliefs of the Timorese; while the majority of the population is now Roman Catholic (which came to the island with colonial powers), animistic practices remain. Producers gather coffee from trees on their own land as well as trees on from formerly managed estates.

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