I have meant to wax lyrical about Timor and its coffee for some time now but I decided to leave it until I had done a tour of the coffee producing areas and seen coffee harvesting and processing in action. I had timetabled for this months ago but was held back by the fact that harvesting does not start until June.
Now that June has passed, it still has not happened. The coffee-producing centre of Ermera has been one of the bases for the so-called “rebels” and the coffee production facilities have been in general turmoil for a while now. The coffee producers rely on seasonal labour at harvest time and because of all the crap lately, the labourers are reluctant to go to the Ermera/Gleno area for work.
More importantly, over the last month or so, the troubles have dealt a severe blow to us lovers of freshly roasted coffee. My source of high quality beans had closed down for over a month and the street sellers of lower quality beans near the airport had deserted their premises.
The supermarkets have a large quantity of vacuum-packed beans from mainly European and Australian companies – but all of unknown age and many packets which have lost their vacuum-ness. Out of deference to the local industry, in times like this I buy the Portuguese processed “Delta” Timorese coffee which is re-imported back into Timor (and fortunately packaged in a cardboard package to protect the vacuum bag inside).
But I finally managed to arrange for my fix of the high quality roasted beans which were delivered to me by bicycle. They make me feel like I am the only person in town with such exacting requirements. But can’t complain.
Its strange really as I didn’t start drinking coffee until one day at work (a number of years ago) I arrived at work with a hang-over and figured that the only thing that might help was a strong cup of coffee. Tea just didn’t do a thing. It was then that I finally realised why the “Pablo” coffee I once provided for coffee drinking guests was greeted with disdain.
Of course, I had a bad start. My mother drank International Roast and Maxwell House and I recall her once allowing me to try coffee when I was but a wee lad. It was her funny way of ensuring I wouldn’t drink it. I also figured this out as she did a similar thing with wine by allowing me to try some green coloured hungarian wine that sat (opened) in the cupboard under the kitchen sink.
Its all child psychology really. The result is that I have become a coffee konnoyzer and wine lake reduction expert.