Origin Stories: Fairtrade Cooperatives in East Timor

12 August, 2021 3 min read

As you sip your earthy cup of Maubisse, you might wonder where this wondrous coffee comes from, and how a single cup could have any impact on the people that grow it. We sat with Jasper Coffee cofounder Wells Trenfield to discuss how Fairtrade partnerships have supported communities throughout East Timor in their post-conflict recovery; restoring livelihoods, access to basic healthcare and even building remote birthing clinics. 


The first Fairtrade and organic certified coffee in Australia

Jasper Coffee has been buying coffee from East Timor since the nineties - long before the Fairtrade certification. In the beginning, we bought coffee grown in plantations across Mt Ramelau, the highest mountain in Timor-Leste, and eventually shifted to the creamier-bodied coffee now known as ‘Maubisse’ in 2000. By 2003, Maubisse became one of the first Fairtrade Certified and Organic Certified coffees introduced for roasting in Australia, grown by the CCT Coop.

Forest where coffee is grown

Supporting our neighbors through our obsession with coffee

The coffee produced within East Timor has always been exceptional, with a consistently high-quality yield thanks to improved picking, agronomy practices, and the introduction of quality washed processing. But as an Australian business, Jasper Coffee found an even more compelling reason to support our neighbors.

“East Timor are such stalwarts of Fairtrade and especially the beginning of Fairtrade in Australia. After the massive war with Indonesia,...there was no infrastructure. We Australians believed that we could help East Timor by buying their coffee… and wanted to see them [East Timor] have something they could sell to get themselves on their feet, up and running - it was very much a political issue as much as a coffee issue.” - Wells Trenfield, Cofounder of Jasper Coffee

Bolstered by great coffee and compassion, Jasper Coffee decided to partner with the CCT Coop, strengthening our relationship with producers across East Timor.


Medical clinics

Bringing basic medical support to the mountains of East Timor

“Access to healthcare was very important in the recovery of these communities so Coops purchased medical centres so that communities, we’re talking 26,000 people in the Coop, could access medical attention, day or night, 7-days a week.” - Wells Trenfield, Cofounder of Jasper Coffee

In 2000, after gaining independence from Indonesia, Cooperativa Café Timor (or the CCT Coop) was founded by local producers as a way of marketing coffee to global buyers. The Coop became Fairtrade certified in 2001, and represents 23,000 members. With Fairtrade Premiums, East Timor’s CCT Coop has built 8 medical care stations, including a birthing center, along with 23 mobile medical facilities. The facilities are accessed by 2000 people monthly, free of charge, and feature solar-operated mobile phone charging ports to allow full communication throughout these remote areas.

With the help of our coffee broker, Scott Bennett, Jasper Coffee built an additional postnatal centre to help women in remote mountain communities deliver their babies safely and receive care after delivery. 

Maubisse isn’t just another single-origin coffee, it’s a choice that saves and supports the livelihoods of remote mountain communities every single day. So the next time you’re brewing a cup of this marvellous coffee, consider how every pack provides access to healthcare and the welcoming of healthy, happy babies abroad.

Interested in learning more about Fairtrade? Read more on our Fairtrade 101 blog.Explore our blog for more origin Stories about our Fairtrade Certified coffee fromEthiopia,Colombia andPapua New Guinea. Keen to support the CCT Coop in East Timor? Shop  East Timor Maubisse.