From its earliest introduction to present day, the arabica gene stock in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is considered to be one of the country’s strongest natural assets, not to mention one of the best-preserved typica lineage variety sets in the world. And these delicate genetics clearly thrive in PNG’s highlands, which are some of the most virgin and fertile on the planet.
Between World Wars I and II, Australian settlers would establish more and more large coffee estates across the Eastern, Chimbu, Jiwaka, and Western highland provinces. As commercial exports ramped up, more indigenous Papuans would adopt coffee as a cash crop alongside their traditional economies, in most cases processing at home and selling humid parchment to traveling collectors. For hundreds of thousands of rural farmers coffee would be, and still is, the very first and only source of western currency. To this day expert-level cultivation knowledge largely remains in the possession and experience of PNG’s plantation owners. Remote smallholder coffee tends to fall short of its potential, receiving only scarce quality interventions from ambitious millers and exporters.
This unique natural lot is made possible by New Guinea Highlands (NGH), a miller and exporter based in Garoka, one of the main coffee industry hubs in PNG’s highlands. NGH also partners with independent washing stations and occasionally commissions specific processing styles in collaboration with participating growers. In this case, NGH worked with processors in the Aviamp area that straddles the border between Jiwaka and the Western Highlands. Cherry delivered daily by surrounding smallholders is depulped and fermented for an average of 48 hours, and then sun-dried. Daily batches of finished parchment are moved to a local dry mill for moisture conditioning and milling, after which the finished green coffee is transported to NGH’s headquarters in Garoka for quality analysis and blending.