After spending a couple of years volunteering in Timor-Leste, Mark Young developed a love for the country ... and their coffee.
Once he returned home to Paraparaumu, he knew he wanted to find Timor-Leste-grown coffee locally so he tried The Roastery, located on Sheffield St.
The Roastery carries coffee beans from all over the world, with beans from somewhere between 20 and 30 countries, but at the time Timor-Leste wasn’t one of them.
But much to Young’s delight, co-owner Pete Evans said he could get the beans in within a week or two – and that’s what he did.
Evans, who co-owns The Roastery with Serena Harper, said they only got a small 3kg bag in at first, but due to the beans’ popularity, he’s now ordering 60kg bags at a time.
“It’s a smooth, well-balanced coffee ... it’s just an excellent all-round coffee.”
The Timor-Leste-grown coffee beans have proven to be so popular that the Ambassador of Timor-Leste to New Zealand, Felicidade Guterres, visited The Roastery to check it out and see how the coffee beans are processed.
Guterres said she would love to see the Timor-Leste coffee bean trade expand to other parts of the country too, especially Wellington.
“It is the best coffee in the world.”
But Timor-Leste grown coffee is not only tasty - purchasing it also has many positive effects on the people there too.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Gabrielle Isaak said 40 per cent of Timor-Leste’s population lives in poverty, and a third of them are also coffee bean farmers.
But because of extra certifications on the coffee in New Zealand, purchasing this coffee means the farmers in Timor-Leste get paid significantly more than they would if they sold over there.
“That premium also funds things like healthcare clinics.
“So, something like 10,000 extra people have access to healthcare each month because of the premiums on this coffee.
“When you pay a little bit more for your coffee, it’s because you are helping to make the difference to lift farmers out of poverty, but also make sure that they and their families have access to healthcare.”
Isaak, who used to be part of the embassy in Timor-Leste, said she wants to tell the story of how far the country, which now follows democracy, has come since the 1999 East Timorese crisis.
“It’s a place a lot of New Zealanders associate with conflict, but it’s so much more than that.
“It’s such a beautiful country, it’s so stable and democratic now, and the coffee is amazing.”