Meet Mr Augustine
Mr Augustine de Deus, 51 years old, father of 5, is one of the coffee farmers in the TunuFahi village in Letefoho, sub-district of Ermera, Timor Leste. The coffee produced by this particular farmer group that Mr Augustine belongs to, won the inaugural cupping competition in Timor Leste last year. Judged by a panel of international coffee experts, TunuFahi's coffee was crowned the winner with an average cupping score of 84.6, claiming the accolades as the best coffee in Timor Leste.
Coffee is the main agricultural product that provides the much needed income for the coffee farmers and their families. Each year during the harvest season in July to September, like all other coffee farmers, Mr Augustine's whole family including the young children will be out in the fields picking coffee cherries. After harvesting, they will proceed to sort out the coffee cherries- bigger cherries are set aside for further processing to be sold to Cafe Brisa Serena while the remaining coffee cherries will be sold wholesale to another coffee cooperative at a low price.
Unripe coffee cherries growing on the coffee trees. Farmers will pick the ripe bright red cherries from the trees during harvest season.
Children and youths will usually skip school during harvest season to help with the coffee harvesting. Youths and children sorting out coffee cherries here.
Mr Augustine takes great pride in his coffee farm. During our visit, he was beaming with excitement as he brought us down the steep slopes to view his coffee trees.
Mr Augustine beaming as he shared his stories.
Cafe Brisa Serina (CBS), a social enterprise based in Timor Leste set up by PeaceWinds Japan, works with more than 500 coffee farmers like Mr Augustine in Letefoho. They educate the coffee farmers on growing better quality beans and teach them to process the coffee cherries into parchment after picking and sorting. By purchasing the coffee beans at parchment form, CBS can pay the farmers a much higher rate (almost 10 times more than what the coffee farmers get from selling the coffee cherries to other coffee cooperatives). Mr Augustine mentioned that with the higher income he gets from selling the coffee beans to CBS, he could rent a microlet to send his children to school in Gleno which is a three hour drive from Letefoho. Coffee farmers like Mr Augustine rely heavily on the coffee harvest season to earn all the income they need to support their family for the rest of the nine months.
Mr Augustine and his extended family.
Rain started falling as we ended the interview with Mr Augustine. It was a short interview but our hearts were warmed as we got to meet the farmers face to face and understand a little more about their lives and struggles. Mr Augustine's weathered face showed tiredness from the hard work they put in to maintain their coffee farm but also carried a warm genuine smile as he recounted his experiences to us. These small beans that give us our aromatic coffee each morning are a result of the hard work that farmers like Mr Augustine put in. They are also beans of hope, joy and pride for these farmers.
There is a story behind each cup of brew.
We hope you appreciate your cuppa more now that you have met the farmer bringing you these great coffee beans, just as we do.
Our Really Good Coffee comes from the farms of Mr Augustine and his neighbours in the same village. Their coffee are also the winners of the inaugural national cupping competition at the Kafe Festival Timor 2016 with an average score of 84.6. When you purchase our Really Good Coffee, you are increasing the demand for Mr Augustine's coffee, thereby increasing his income when CBS purchases more of his coffee.
Story by min. Photographs by Rudy & Jo.