Julia and Tozy, guided by their mentors at Agora Food Studio, want to create a collaborative roaster and coffee 'incubator' in East Timor (Timor-Leste). Their dream is to cultivate a dynamic community of coffee professionals and push forward specialty coffee in Dili.
***WHAT WE ARE SEEKING***
1) COFFEE LEADERSHIP TRAINING IN AUSTRALIA + ONGOING MENTORING IN TIMOR-LESTE
2) DEVELOPMENT OF A ‘COFFEE INCUBATOR’ FOR DILI THAT PROVIDES PEOPLE THE SPACE, EQUIPMENT AND CLASSES TO DISCOVER THE WORLD OF SPECIALITY COFFEE.... BUT FIRST STEP: A ROASTER
***WHO WE ARE AND OUR JOURNEY TO DATE***
Julia and Tozy are young professional baristas at Agora Food Studio. They are passionate, focused and determined to pursue knowledge on all things coffee - from green bean to mastering the art of roasting and sensory experience, to business management and mentoring the next generation of coffee entrepreneurs. The advantage that Julia and Tozy have is they live and breathe in a country where coffee is grown. Because of this, they can push the boundaries of coffee beginning at its origins.
JULIA is exceptional. She is twice barista champion of Timor-Leste, taking first place in the 2017 and 2018 Festival Kafe Timor National Barista Championships. Julia had worked as a professional barista for only one year before winning her first championship, all the while completing her undergraduate Finance degree. Before this, she had never tasted an espresso but quickly learnt the craft and discovered she had a passion for coffee. What is outstanding about Julia is she is developing a dialect in coffee; blending global ideas with local and regional taste and colours. She has a phenomenal palette combined with a creative open-mind that is constantly exploring and creating flavour, using reference points of fruits, spices and herbs that grow within the tropical latitudes, just like coffee.
TOZY is a natural leader. Being a coffee farmer himself, he has an intuition for working with other farmers and has the calm reassurance for mentoring teammates like Julia. This along with Tozy’s curiosity, earnestness and ability to taste flavors landed him the position as our Head Barista. Growing up in the mountains, he helped his parents handpick the red cherries off trees surrounding their home. They would sell to local buyers at just US0.35 cents/kg. One day his friend told him that Agora Food Studio was looking for new baristas. As with Julia, he had no idea what a barista was, nor tasted or seen an espresso coffee before. Within just a few months, he developed a real passion for tasting coffee and engaging others to share his enthusiasm.
AGORA FOOD STUDIO is a social enterprise incubator in Dili that focuses on mentoring Timorese youth in food, coffee, and tourism, with values deeply-rooted in environmental sustainability, collaboration and promoting heritage of place. It was established only two years ago, completely self-funded by an Australian couple - Mark Notaras and Alva Lim - former international development professionals living in Timor-Leste for over 7 years (www.timorlestefoodlab.com). Agora Food Studio and its pilot project, Timor-Leste Food Innovators Exchange (TLFIX), combined employ 22 Timorese. Prior to Agora Food Studio, Mark and Alva co-founded the Dili Slow Food Dili Convivium, and worked in various bilateral aid programmes on youth training, agriculture, climate change, agro-biodiversity, and nutrition. Mark has a postgraduate degree in Peace Studies from the Australian National University. Alva is an economist with a postgraduate degree in Public Policy from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan.
Agora Food Studio has provided the mentorship, business experience and financial foundations needed for Timorese professionals like Julia and Tozy to recognise their strengths and dream big. Two key elements of Agora’s success are its management style - a model based on ‘learn and then teach others how to learn', and an extensive network of mentors and supporters drawn from across the region, including Australia, Indonesia and the USA.
Timor-Leste is a small-half island nation of 1.2 million people. Getting there is a simple one-and-a-half hour plane ride from Darwin. Timor-Leste is ranked as the second most heavily reliant economy on oil, making up 90% of government revenues. Some forecasts predict this oil wealth to dry up within 5 years. After oil comes coffee exports, currently contributing a piffling 1% to government revenues. However for the people of Timor-Leste, coffee remains an extremely important source of income; 37% of households have incomes that are just from selling coffee. The country has to transition away from oil and build a vibrant specialty coffee sector at speeds unseen before, because the timeframe is so short. Young dynamic Timorese professionals like Julia (the first barista champion of Timor-Leste) and Tozy (trainer and sensory cupper) will be critical to drive this process.
The Australian specialty coffee industry has redefined what coffee is, and can be. With your help, we can take Julia and Tozy to learn from the best in the world, starting with some excellent roasters and cafes in Sydney. The proliferation of the Australian cafe culture and micro-roasters, combined with a great sense of community, has seen an explosion of artistic and technical creativity worldwide.
***WHAT YOUR SUPPORT WILL GO TOWARDS***
1) COFFEE LEADERSHIP TRAINING IN AUSTRALIA AND CONTINUED MENTORING IN TIMOR-LESTE:
Julia and Tozy will learn the craft of coffee roasting, from bean to business, from the best roasters and cafes in Sydney, including Forsyth Coffee House (https://forsythcoffee.myshopify.com) and Numero Uno Artisan Coffee Roasters (https://www.numerouno.com.au). They have already begun experimenting with a variety of Timorese micro-lots, roasting and creating blends with specific flavour profiles, much like wine. Sydney will expose them to coffee varietals and flavours from around the world. Your support will cover:
- Transport and accommodation for Julia and Tozy for two weeks in Sydney, November 2018;
- Training on advanced roasting, barista, sensory evaluation and roastery management; and
- an internationally-renowned roaster/sensory judge from Australia to come to Dili and provide ongoing mentoring and training in 2019
2) DEVELOPING THE CONCEPT OF A ‘COFFEE INCUBATOR’ FOR DILI THAT PROVIDES PEOPLE SPACE, EQUIPMENT AND CLASSES TO DISCOVER THE WORLD OF SPECIALITY COFFEE.... THE FIRST STEP: A ROASTER.
Our bigger, bolder vision is to cultivate a community of coffee roasting professionals, artisans, and enthusiasts by providing education, technical knowledge, and equipment. The first step towards this is a collaborative coffee roasting centre, equipped with a roaster and a great team of mentors. We believe Julia and Tozy are a key part of Timor-Leste's first generation of coffee mentors and will build that team. To kickstart their dream for a 'coffee incubator', your support will cover:
- The purchase of a HAS GARANTI coffee roaster including parts;
- Training for Julia and Tozy in Sydney to learn the ins and outs of how to use the Has Garanti roaster;
- Shipment of the roaster to Dili and installation; and
- Extensive development of a business plan for a COFFEE INCUBATOR in Dili: a collaborative roastery and sensory training centre.
Your support will help us develop a thorough business plan towards this coffee incubator goal, involving significant amounts of time and feedback from stakeholders to make sure we have a viable financial model that addresses the needs of the specialty coffee sector in Timor-Leste. (Separate crowdfunding is planned in the future for the fit-out of the space and purchase of more equipment). We estimate that within 2 years of installing the roaster, Julia and Tozy with their mentors, will have had the time to: get used to experimenting, roasting, and tasting coffee, building their team, and developing training materials and programmes. The roastery and sensory training centre will then open to emerging small businesses and producers, as well as coffee and culinary enthusiasts around the region who want to advance their understanding of taste.
***WANNA FOLLOW THEIR ENTIRE JOURNEY?***
As a mycause.com.au backer, you'll get special access to the closed facebook group where you can talk with Julia, Tozy and the team directly!
And don't forget to also follow the Agora Food Studio team on https://www.facebook.com/agorafoodstudio/
as well as Instagram: agorafoodstudio
~ Mark, Alva and the team
Jeff Hann Films
My Linh Le
Market Development Facility (MDF)