Papua New Guinea coffee

by JulieCraves on June 24, 2007

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the eastern half of a large island north of Australia and associated smaller islands. PNG is one of the least explored places left on earth, with dense rainforests, rugged mountains, and many diverse indigenous people (with over 800 languages spoken). PNG holds incredible biodiversity, with 60% of its estimated 11,000 plant species being endemic. Over half of its 762 bird species are also endemic.

Coffee is grown in the mountainous highlands regions of PNG, often at altitudes of over 1,500 m (5,000 ft). The highlands consist of a number of provinces, and much of the coffee is grown in the Eastern Highlands and Western Highlands provinces, more or less in the center of the country. About 70-85% of the coffee is produced by small holders in garden plots; 40% of the population of PNG derives income from coffee farming. There are also larger estates, often owned by Australian or European interests. Here are some of the familiar names in PNG coffee, and the provinces they are grown in:

Western Highlands — Sigri Estate, near Mount Hagen in the Waghi valley; Kalanga, also in the Waghi valley.

Eastern Highlands — Kimel Estate; Arokara Estate; Goroka Estate, near town of same name; Arona Estate; Purosa “estate,” really a co-op of about 2,600 farmers of the Highlands Organic Agriculture Co-operative Ltd (HOAC) in the Purosa/Okapa region.

Morobe Province — Primarily small holders.

Much of the coffee is grown organically, either passive or certified, especially that of small holders.

Some of the coffee stock in PNG came from Jamaica’s Blue Mountain region. Other types grown are the bourbon variety Arusha (Kenya/Tanzania), and the low-growing, higher yield Mundo Novo and caturra. These varied origins give PNG coffee its own character, which is different than that of the regions that surround it. Generally, it is not as earthy or leathery as other Indonesian coffees (although small holder sources may be a bit wilder, due to the hand-processing done in each village). It is a little lighter bodied, with the brightness of Central Americans, and also has a touch of the African mild fruitiness.

We will be presenting short reviews of several PNG coffees soon. The 2007 crop is being harvested, and there will be a “Pride of PNG” competition in October, so we will do further reviews when new coffees arrive at roasters.

I’ve had some PNGs I loved, and some I’ve hated. I think it’s really important to support PNG small holders and the incredible biodiversity there, so the C&C tasting panel is looking forward to bringing you these reviews and more information on their origins.

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Revised on February 8, 2013

Posted in Coffee regions

myronj June 26, 2007 at 6:16 am

I agree with your statement that these small holders should be supported. Buying their coffee is surely one way..but, i am afraid, that it is not enough.

Are you familiar with organizations that support the farmers of this region through educational, health, infrastructure support and through providing tools to improve their life? Pls let us know about such groups.

Thx.

BirdBarista June 26, 2007 at 6:39 am

The cooperative in the Purosa region (Highlands Organic Agriculture Co-operative Ltd) supports their farmers with various projects. More at this web site.

Any others, readers? I know a lot of religious missionaries are active in PNG, a practice I object to, so don't send me any links along those lines.

Jack Shipley February 11, 2008 at 11:02 pm

The Highlands Coop Purosa has been a favorite of ours since we began roasting it two years ago. Andrew Vournas sourced this coffee for us as we're too new yet to travel so widely on our own. I'm writing a blog now as we've just received fresh supplies of this marvelous, high-quality FT/O coffee.

While I don't disagree with the comment about the need for other forms of help to people like the growers in PNG, I must say that providing fair income for high-quality coffee like offers dignity. The film Black Gold states that if Ethiopian growers earned just an additional 1% share of the profits from coffee grown by them that they would have a sustainable economy to support their families.

Jack

BirdBarista February 12, 2008 at 6:43 am

Thanks, Jack. I'll be checking out your blog at Conscious Cup!

Equalizer March 3, 2008 at 10:58 am

Corruption is rife in the coffee industry, help these farmers today, have your say, read more at he blog

BirdBarista March 3, 2008 at 11:36 am

The issue alluded to in the previous comment is the court battle over the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) trying to ban exports of some coffee, allegedly in favor of a few exporters.

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