Timor-Leste holds young nation’s first coffee quality competition

Smallholder farmers cultivating Timor-Leste’s signature heirloom coffee variety led the field in the country’s inaugural national cup quality contest. The competition ran from 28 November – 3 December in conjunction with Festival Kafe Timor, a weeklong celebration of Timor-Leste coffee traditions that was organized by the recently-formed Timor-Leste Coffee Association (Assosiasaun Café Timor-Leste – ACTL). Sixty-two samples were collected from farming groups in the country’s six main coffee growing districts and were evaluated by six international and three national judges using Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) sample roasting and cupping protocols. Forty-seven of the coffees received were evaluated at eighty points or higher on a one-hundred-point scale, meeting the cup quality threshold to be called specialty coffee. In an awards ceremony held at the conclusion of the festival in Dili on 3 December, farmers from Tunu Fahi village in the Letefoho subdistrict of Ermera took top honours with their TunuFahiB lot, growing Hibrido de Timor variety. The nine judges recorded an average of 84.45 points, describing the coffee as being “creamy,” with “green apple, sour cherry, lemon and peach” flavour notes. It was produced in cooperation with commercial partner Café Brisa Serena. Second and third place were close behind at 84.325 and 84.025, produced by farmers from Tasakina village of Hatolia subdistrict and Lebudu village in Letefoho respectively.  Four of the top ten award winners reported using the Hibrido de Timor variety. Eight of the top ten lots were produced by smallholder farmer groups working in partnership with local and international exporters. “The results from this first competition show the great potential that Timor-Leste has as a producer of specialty coffee,” stated Paolo Spantigati, Asian Development Bank Country Director for Timor-Leste, at the awards ceremony. “Many farmers still struggle to earn a good living but events like this are inspiring them to improve quality and providing them with a clear path to a better life.” Other Festival Kafe Timor activities included mobile roadshows delivering training on coffee quality to remote farming villages, barista and roaster training sessions for retail businesses, promotions in local cafes and restaurants and a one-day festival speaker program opened by H.E. Estanislau da Silva, the Minister for Agriculture and Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs.  For more information about Festival Kafe Timor, cupping results or 2017 dates, visit the Festival Kafe Timor Facebook page.

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