Timor-Leste, the youngest country in Asia, is also home to quality coffee with a history that dates back to the 1800s. Throughout its recent history, Timor-Leste has suffered from disturbances and wars, making it extremely difficult for this young nation to survive. Yet, with its inherent quality of soil and long-term efforts in rebuilding the nation, this country is ready to shine again with its great offerings.
In 2016, a group of three consisting of a graphic designer, travel blogger, and myself, went to discover this amazing country with a mission to uncover the story of a social enterprise exporting premium coffee there. The social enterprise, called the Hummingfish Foundation, is a registered charity dedicated to protecting the earth’s unspoiled natural environments by adding value to nature itself.
Founded by Daniel J. Groshong (1953-2017), a veteran journalist of seven armed conflicts around the world, the Hummingfish Foundation has been working on a number of significant projects in Timor-Leste to improve the living conditions of the villagers there.
Laclubar, the destination of our journey, is located in a remote part of Timor-Leste, about 6 hours away from Dili, the capital city. The village is situated in the district of Manatuto, about 130 kilometers southeast of the capital city of Dili. The coffee produced in Laclubar is grown at an altitude of 1,500 meters, making it one of the highest grown coffees in the world.
Despite its growing reputation as a coffee destination, Laclubar remains a rural and isolated community, with limited access to basic services such as healthcare and education. Organizations like the Hummingfish Foundation have been working to support the community through various projects, including coffee production, eco-tourism, and education initiatives.
Under years of guidance and mutual learning, the farmers are now sophisticated in the production process, and they are more confident in selling their coffee.
“Before that, I only knew how to grow the coffee, but I didn’t even taste it. The taste was so amazing, and I couldn’t imagine that my product would be of that quality.”
While Timor-Leste might not be a well-known coffee country, the purity, passion, and strive for a better living have impressed me. I hope that one day, more of us will be able to enjoy the coffee from Timor-Leste like we did.
And the story of Laclubar coffee is a testament to the transformative power of social entrepreneurship and community development initiatives. As travelers, we have the opportunity to support and participate in these efforts, not only by enjoying the local products and experiences but also by contributing to sustainable and responsible tourism practices. By doing so, we can help create a positive impact on the communities we visit and promote a more equitable and inclusive world.