Thursday, June 16, 2022
With notes of fudge brownie, Necco Wafer, and mango, this exclusive coffee sounds like it came straight out of the candy aisle. Instead of overhead fluorescents, though, these beans get to bask in the high-altitude glory of tropical Timor-Leste. Eratoi Home Processed is sowed alongside a mountainous holy site in Ducurai, Letefoho Sub-District, and harvested by members of the Eratoi group. Without the support and guidance of Peace Winds Japan (PWJ), a nonprofit humanitarian relief organization, this group would likely not exist.
In 2004, PWJ came to Timorese communities’ aid following the decades-long and bloody occupation of East Timor by the Indonesian New Order. To help citizens rebuild their lives, PWJ taught them how to farm and even constructed a community water tank in 2008. PWJ’s agroforestry initiatives, like planting Casuarina trees and establishing composting programs, have helped Timor-Leste heal environmentally and economically. In fact, Javanese coffee and agroforestry expert, Eko Purnomowidi, is spearheading PWJ’s current agroforestry education series.
The Eratoi group has a single-stem-system style in their approach to production. Unlike the unruly, 10-meter-tall coffee trees common during Portuguese colonialization, Eratoi coffee plants are culled, cut, and conserved annually. Older trees and less-productive branches are removed to maximize the nutrients for the best in the bunch, which has increased productivity and benefited the lot. Harvest is a community event, all village members convening to pick the ripe cherries every morning until the area is finished.