Friday, July 1, 2011

The Coffee Source

Coffee farmer Manuel Ximenes
I am not a coffee drinker. But...I could become one -- especially after today.  First, I have never had a cup of coffee -- just a few sips -- until this afternoon around 3:30.

I arrived in the Timorese coffee town (village) of Estabo -- about three hours outside Dili. A beautiful mountain village located along a rough narrow road that zigs and zags for dozens of kilometers. There are coffee trees everywhere -- shaded by giant trees that serve as umbrellas against the tropical sun.

In Estado, farmers are beginning to prune their trees to make them have a higher yield of coffee beans. I wanted to see the results.  I met farmer Manuel Ximenes, who's been growing coffee beans for 30 years, in the middle of town where he proceeded to take me over to some of his 280 trees. "See these big beans, they are the result of pruning," he sounds proudly as a huge grin appeared on his face. Before pruning, he got 1-2 kilos per tree -- now he gets anywhere from 4-6 kilos of beans from those same trees.
Newly picked beans!
Our next stop was the Coffee Cooperative of Timor -- the place that sells most of its coffee to Starbucks. I was offered a cup and almost said 'no, I don't drink,' but said 'yes, of course!'

It was excellent -- a smooth, pleasant after taste -- nothing bitter about this coffee.  It was too bad we had to leave after a 15 minute chat with the coffee folks -- I would have probably had another cup!

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