Origins: Papua New Guinea


Overview

Altitude Range: 1300-1900 


Language: Hiri Motu, Tok Pisin, English, and 848 additional tribal dialects


Harvest: May - August


Common Varieties: Arusha, Blue Mountain, San Ramon

General Cup Profile

Papua New Guinea (PNG) coffees are a cup of funky wildness, like the island itself. These coffees have a bright and delicate acidity of a malic acid - apple wineyness that sets them apart from the other Southeast Asian Archipelago coffees of the earthier Sumatran and Sulawesian variety.

You might compare PNGs to brighter Javas, but there are distinct differences between the two cups. PNGs tend to come off as more delicate, refined, and lighter body than washed Javas.

Papua New Guinea is most definitely a unique origin you must try, and is an excellent origin for unique certified organic coffee option.

Growing Regions

 

Western Highlands

This is home to one of our favorite PNG coffees, Kunjin.  Its provincial capital and central town is Mount Hagen.  The economy in Western Highlands revolves around coffee.  

Our Ulya coffee also comes from this region.

This area hosts the Hagen Show, a unique presentation were hundreds of tribes from the Highlands gather for a week to show off their traditional tribal outfits and culture.

1600 - 2000 masl

Varieties: Arusha, Blue Mountain, San Ramon

Eastern Highlands 

Goroka is the main town of Eastern Highlands and home to the Asaro Mudmen, a famous tribe who fled by hiding in muddy banks and escaping by night.

Our Namugo coffee comes from this region.

1500 - 2000 masl

Varieties: Arusha, Blue Mountain, San Ramon

Processing 

PNG processes in the washed form.  Wet-mills are owned by plantations who process their own coffee and also buy cherry from small-holders at higher altitudes.  Some wet-mills are independently owned as well and only buy cherry.  Most wet-mills have old British machinery from when coffee came to PNG in the early 1900s such as disc pulpers.  Centralized Processing Stations will usually yield better and more consistent quality. (Kunjin, Ulya, Namugo, are cherry purchasers)

Some producers will do their own wet-milling on site.  This usually produces inconsistencies in the lots.  (Our Fair Trade Keto Tapasi, for example, is bought in parchment)

Coffee is fermented and washed and then dried on plastic tarps.

Cherry selection in PNG is extremely poor.  This is due to the exotic nature of this coffee, low availability, and the high prices associated with this.  Our coffees are being processed by the top-of-the-line Brazilian Pinhalense wet-mills which sorts floaters, dry cherry, immatures, and green beans mechanically.

Dry Milling

Coffee is hand picked and sorted (most of the time by women) on the floor on yute sacks.  This is unique to PNG, most of the time it’s done on tables or conveyor belts.

PNG also has an extremely unique grading system. 

Coffee Grading

 

Grade

A

X

AX

PSC

Y1

Y2

Y3

T

Screen Size

>17mm

Mixed

Mixed

>15mm

Mixed

Mixed

Mixed

Mixed

Total defect per kg

20

20

10

40

70

150

<30% by weight

>30% by weight

Bean Shape

Oval Smooth

Mixed Smooth

Mixed

Mixed

Mixed

Mixed Shape

Mixed Shape

Mixed Shape

Bean Color

Blue/Green

Blue/Green

Light Green

Light Green

Light Green

Light Green

Green/Yellow

Green/Yellow

Aroma

Clean

Clean

Clean

Clean

Some Fruitiness

Acceptable

No foreign odor

No foreign odor

Cup Quality

Good

Good to Fine

Good to Fine

Good, light, fruity

FAQ

FAQ

No foreign flavor

No foreign flavor

 
 

Production History

PNG was colonized by the Germans and British at the end of the 1800s.  The Germans controlled North PNG and the British the South.  There are government reports that coffee was grown as early as 1897 in Port Moresby, on the British side, at an Estate which was in full production by 1899.  Coffee was then being sold to the Australian market.

Commercial coffee production started in Papua New Guinea in the 1920s with seeds brought from Jamaica’s Blue Mountain, a Typica known as Jamaica Blue Mountain.  At that time most of the coffee production came from 18 large plantations.  Plantations still exist in PNG but it only accounts for 15% of the total production; most of the production now comes from small-holders who tend to their coffee gardens, as they call them locally.  The small-holders are subsistence farmers (meaning they live of their land) and they also grow coffee--there are no coffee farmers per-se.  Each garden might have anywhere from a couple to a couple hundred trees of coffee and parchment deliveries can range from 25 - 65 kg.

Coffee is currently grown in 15 of the 19 provinces in the country.  Half of the rural population have a direct connection with coffee production.

Looking Forward

PNG might as well be one of the countries with the least amount of order and infrastructure in the world.  It’s chaos and tribes traditionally do whatever they please.  All this makes it hard to accomplish goals in coffee as well. Cherry selection in PNG is terrible.  There is a very high percentage of greens, and although this is the case, coffee can still be great.  So what if you could improve cherry selection?  It’d be some of the best in the world, on-par with African coffees.

We have asked our exporter-partners if we can pay more for better cherry selection and the answer is a rotund: No, it’s impossible.  This would be dangerous for them as their competitors wouldn’t be happy and things could get violent.  

Our partners on the ground now have their own wet-mill which it’s taken them years to acquire the land for (since the whole tribe has to be willing to sell the land and has to make sense to them).  They have installed top of the line Brazilian Pinhalense technology that allows them to separate off-grade cherries and process the best ones.  This has had tremendous improvement in quality and greater consistency in the cup.

Traditionally, we have seen really good pre-shipment samples from Fair Trade Organic coffees, but sub-80 arrivals.  These coffees are bought in parchment from small-producers, creating a great deal of randomness in the lots.  Recently we have seen 86 point lots from from a coop that shows a lot of promise.  We hope to finally have found a great FTO PNG.

Also, starting in the 2015 harvest, we will be separating out the best day lots and building our containers based on these rather than bulking random day lots to build a container.  There is also interest from our exporters to have a Cupping Competition with roasters, so stay tuned.

Things are extremely complicated in PNG but we will continue to push the bar, as always!