Starbucks has launched a rare single-origin coffee from Timor-Leste.
Available for a limited time in Starbucks stores in the US and Canada, the Tatamailau whole-bean coffee – named after Timor-Leste’s highest peak – is described as ‘smooth with herbal notes and a cocoa finish’. It is packed in 1lb bags.
Starbucks coffee expert Mackenzie Karr said: “The coffee has these nice dark chocolatey flavours and notes of wild cardamom. It is balanced and approachable, a very drinkable cup that shows up nicely in a variety of brewing methods both hot and iced.”
The latest addition continues the coffee retailer’s Single Origin series, launched in March, which invites customers to discover whole-bean coffees to try at home from growing regions around the world. The first in the series, a sun-dried Ethiopian Sidamo coffee, was described as ‘an extraordinary coffee’ with notes of chocolate, fruit, blackberry and jasmine hints.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase rare and unique coffees that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” Karr added.
It also extends Starbucks’ relationship with growers in Timor-Leste – the small Southeast Asian country that occupies the eastern end of the island of Timor. According to Starbucks, the Malay archipelago is known for it exceptionally smooth and distinctive coffees, but Timor’s mountainous coffee-growing regions were producing only very limited quantities when Starbucks bought its first assignment of beans from Timor-Leste in 1996.
Former coffee buyer Dave Olson made the purchase from Cooperativa Café Timor, which had been working with the nation’s smallholder farmers to improve the quality and yield of their harvests.
“When I first went there, they had about half a container of coffee – that’s, say, 120 bags of green coffee – which is nothing, especially now,” recalled Olsen, who retired in 2013. “But it was all they could muster. So, I bought it as a show of faith that it could be better.”
Starbucks continued to buy coffee from East Timor each harvest as its quality improved, and it became an important component of some of Starbucks most popular blends. In 2002 the country gained independence, ushering in an era of stability that has allowed it to establish a reputation as one of the most promising coffee-growing countries in the world.
“It went from this meager beginning, buying a partial container of coffee that we couldn’t really use anyway, to then Timor coffee becoming an important coffee for blending,” Olsen continued. “Now the quality has risen to a level where it belongs on the marquee in bright lights, and its name is on the package and its story is being told.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018
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