Timor is another do-good, feel-good coffee that is gradually becoming taste-good as well. As any newspaper-reading adult knows, over the decades of the 1980s and 1990s East Timor — a former Portuguese colony — underwent a bloody war of resistance to Indonesian occupation, and eventually, at the end of the decade of the 1990s, a brief but even bloodier spasm that led to independence from its much larger neighbor. During the 1990s international assistance organizations helped the East Timorese revive their once famous coffee industry. Like most small-holder coffees from the Malay Archipelago, East Timor coffees are grown without chemicals, but Timors have the advantage of being internationally certified as organic. They are wet-processed at recently established wet mills or washing stations. Buying a Timor coffee at this moment in history means making a small but valuable gesture of support for one of the many peoples of the world caught up in sectarian and political conflict.
In terms of taste, most current versions of Timor are typical for small-holder wet-processed coffees from the islands of the Malay Archipelago: Low-key, sweet, with a musty pungency that can range from soft and intriguing to hard and oppressive. However, the very best and cleanest-tasting Timors can be extraordinary: full, round, smooth, sweet, and deliciously cocoa-toned. These coffees, already promising, may continue to improve as the first decade of the millennium unfolds.