Five years ago, four friends were drinking coffee from army ration packs to keep themselves awake as they completed peacekeeping missions across the world.
Today, Tom Mahon, Shannon French, Cameron Wheelehen and Tom Potter no longer drink coffee to stay alert, but because they have developed a passion for the taste, for the industry and for the farmers who grow the blessed bean.
The boys met on post at a small community in the mountains of Timor-Leste. During their patrols, they discovered a neglected coffee farm that had been planted more than 200 years ago. With a little bit of love, the ‘wild’ coffee began to flourish and the former soldiers worked with local farmers to build independent farming practices.
These days, this Aileu farm flourishes under the jungle canopies and remains completely pesticide free. After harvesting, the farmers transport the beans to Australia where it is prepared for use across Melbourne.
Each year, the guys return to Timor-Leste to help farmers – now their close friends – with harvesting and processing, and to further their coffee education. This relationship is built on mutual learning so, in turn, the group has worked hard to educate the farmers about the value of coffee, ensuring they are paid properly for their product.
After establishing the company in 2012, Shannon, Cameron and the two Toms opened their first cafe in Coburg in 2014 with the help of a crowd-funding campaign. This allowed the boys to showcase their coffee and the amazing growers behind it.
As all of their beans are sourced from friends in Aileu, Wild Timor exclusively offers single origin beans. Possessing a smooth, velvety consistency and a delicate Arabica flavour, the beans also carry the intense caffeine hit of a Robusta coffee – essentially, it combines the best of both worlds.
Since the very first day, Head Barista, Kristie Brockmuller, has been involved with the cafe and has injected her heart and soul into the space. Kristie is a master behind the machine, churning out espresso shots and an extensive range of cold brew options at impressive speed. Her creations are best served in house, paired with a mouth-watering meal at the friendly cafe.
Giving back to poorer communities is something that remains at the heart of the business. Since establishing Wild Timor Coffee, the boys have been able to provide their connections in Timor-Leste with running water, a toilet and a schoolroom and there are many other plans in the works.
Wild Timor Coffee is a coffee enterprise with a big heart. Simultaneously supporting local coffee growers in Timor-Leste, providing coffee to caffeine-crazed Melburnians and learning as much as they possibly can about coffee, four ex-soldiers have created a specialty coffee business that truly cares about its product.