As part of our ambitions at Karst Organics, we would like to be able to support and invest in the local community by helping the local coffee farmers in whatever ways we can. This may involve helping to educate the farmers on agricultural processes which will aid them to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly coffee crop year on year, or through supporting their business by assisting with providing necessary equipment to help with more efficient coffee processing, or even through directly investing and supporting young entrepreneurs with their future business plans and growth.
One of the first people that we would like to feature at Karst Organics is Emeliano De Sa Benevides, better known to his friends as Emel.
Emel is from a small village called Grotu in Same, in the district of Manufahi in Timor-Leste. Same is close to the south coast of Timor and is located 116 km outside of Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. You would think that this is not a long distance to travel, however due to poor road conditions the journey can take up to 5 hours to complete.
He is a very inspiring young man, who is a good example of a new generation of Timorese who are striving to change their future and to improve the economic growth of Timor-Leste, spurred on by their entrepreneurial spirit.
It all started back in 2015 when he attended an event promoting locally produced Timorese products, where his friend was promoting his coffee. After taking a look around he came across a stall where a group of local coffee farmers from Maliana were selling their Luwak (also known as the wild civet cat) coffee. Sadly, by the end of the event the farmers had failed to sell the 30kg of parchment which they had struggled to bring with them. Emel, being the kind-hearted person that he is, bought the coffee from them in order to support the local farmers.
Having never tried Luwak coffee before, Emel roasted the beans and tried the coffee, which much to his delight was clean and smooth, with delicious chocolate and fruit flavour notes. He decided from that point that he would try to start up his own business to sell Luwak coffee or Laku, as known in Tetun – the local language in Timor-Leste.
In March 2016, Emel founded Kafe Laku Diak – his own small coffee business, selling the Kafe Laku Diak coffee beans in supermarkets throughout Dili. The feedback from his customers has been very good, with consumers supporting the fact that the luwaks are wild and the coffee cherries which they are eating are 100% organic. Emel has continued to support the luwak coffee farmers, encouraging them to protect these animals allowing them to continue to live freely in the forests, producing high quality coffee.
Following on from this, Emel now also sells his own brand of 100% Robusta coffee – Café Beliu. Harvested from his own coffee plantation in his hometown together with a collective of other local farmers in the sub-village of Beliu, these beans are hand-picked and natural processed to create a clean and smooth cup of coffee with citrus and sweetness to taste, quite different to what you would normally expect from a Robusta coffee.
Emel’s ultimate goal is to share his knowledge and experience with other farmers and support them in setting up their own sustainable business. Enabling the farmers to be self-sufficient, whilst also encouraging them to maintain sustainable processes to protect the environment, to ensure that their customers can receive high quality organic and responsibly sourced products, direct from the farm.
Emel has been a great friend since we arrived in Dili, and has offered up a lot of advice with regards to working with the farmers here in Timor-Leste. We hope that in the future there may be an opportunity for Karst Organics and Kafe Laku Diak to work together, so if you are interested in trying his coffee, please contact us directly for further information. You can also visit Emel’s page on Facebook to keep up to date with what he is doing.