The South Pacific is a truly wondrous part of the world. Traveling throughout it for any reason is a treat, and that pleasure was ours on our most recent sourcing trip traversing Java, East Timor, Bali and Papua New Guinea.
Our first stop was Java, an island in Indonesia situated between Sumatra to the west and Bali to the east. People were incredibly hospitable, meals were on par with some of the best restaurants in San Francisco, and our afternoons were spent cupping coffee barefoot at the Cisondari Mill.
Our experience at the Cisondari Mill was unrivaled and their operations, pristine. A signpost located in the center of the mill guided us to different places, each bearing a unique name. The long curved drying patio is called ‘blessed’, while the small shelter for the husky pups family is endearingly deemed ‘home’. Mill workers live on site in a large complex down the hill from the immense hub of operations. Trucks drive around throughout the mountains daily, picking up cherry and bringing it back to the mill for overnight processing and fermentation. In the morning, the parchment is rinsed and laid out to dry in one of the covered patios. In the storage warehouse, multiple large sacks of parchment are resting. The workers at Cisondari play traditional Sunda music throughout the warehouse, a practice to aid in the resting of the coffee.
From Java, we traveled to East Timor, the second youngest country on the planet. East Timor, or Timor-Leste in the country’s national language of Portuguese, received its independence from Indonesia in 2002 and has grown significantly since. We landed in Dili, a sleepy beach town home to the country’s newest shopping mall, a couple Burger Kings, a handful of lively dive bars, and the newly established Outspan Agro Timor, one of the country’s best exporters of fine specialty coffees.
The coffee here is wild as the trees have grown untamed since the 1950s, when the Portuguese colonial government began to plant coffees for export. To provide supple shade for the coffee, Madre Cacao and Kukui trees were also planted, which have since grown to become massive canopy trees. The Madre Cacao tree is also a nitrogen-fixing tree, precious for it’s ability to take nitrogen from the air and feed it back into the soil aiding in healthy soil production and ultimately, to flourishing coffee trees throughout the year.The coffees in East Timor are already beginning to display special traits that will only become more prominent and nuanced with time and small production improvements. We look forward to sourcing beautiful coffees from this country very soon. From here we headed back to Indonesia to visit Bali, and finally to Papua New Guinea. Stay tuned for that update.