Australians have an affinity with Timor-Leste that dates back to World War II, including its struggle for independence, achieved officially in 2002.
One Monash business is making a significant contribution to the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of subsistence coffee farmers in Timor-Leste, while also creating a locally produced coffee for customers in Australia and beyond.
Siblings Alice and Jake Mahar are the dynamic duo behind not-for-profit enterprise, WithOneBean, which produces ethical, social and environmental coffee.
Since WithOneBean commenced in 2015, it has imported 70 tonnes of green coffee beans and roasted them at its microshipping container roastery in Oakleigh.
More than 660 coffee farmers produce the coffee cherry using 100 per cent organic farming methods, which means they receive a higher price for their coffee and helps improve their lives.
“We are proud of the fact that we are working with these farmers directly,” said Alice. “We provide education and training in increasing harvest yields and improving production methods, which helps them produce a higher quality coffee bean each year.”
WithOneBean was established to support WithOneSeed, a community forestry program in the mountains of Timor-Leste run by Alice and Jake’s father, Andrew Mahar.
“A tree is planted via WithOneSeed for every kilo of coffee we roast and this year will see 20,000 trees planted, bringing the total to 150,000. This has contributed to the removal of more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 via the WithOneSeed offset program, CarbonSocial.
“Tree planting is financially benefiting 5,000 Timorese and also reducing erosion, improving soil quality and seeing water tables being restored.
“We are also working towards an income diversification model that will give these communities an increased and more evenly spread annual income with new organic produce such as turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and vanilla,” Alice said.
The company currently has five staff, which is expected to increase rapidly over the next three years. Helping ensure the business has stable growth, Alice recently completed the Business Planning for Maximum Growth Masterclass series that was delivered through Monash Council’s Economic Development Team with funding support from Small Business Victoria.
WithOneBean is now being recognised internationally with Alice recently named an Obama Leader in Asia Pacific for 2020 (as part of the [Barack] Obama Foundation). The company was a finalist in the 2019 Moral Fairground Ethical Enterprise Award and it recently received bronze and silver medals in Golden Bean, Australia and New Zealand’s coffee roasting championships.
WithOneBean coffee is 100 per cent Arabica and can be purchased online or from its roastery and café at 42 Regent Street, Oakleigh.
“We are proud to be running a business that puts people and the planet before profits while also producing a delicious coffee,” Alice added.