Recently I was lucky enough to go to Papua New Guinea with our major raw supplier and 4 other roasters from around Australia.
It was an awesome learning experience for me to see the full process from tree to shipping of our coffee from PNG, we currently use around 7 tonne per week! It was quite different seeing it all first hand as opposed to on websites or in books.
The first leg of my trip landed in Port Moresby and connected with a much smaller plane (propeller driven) up to Mt. Hagen. Even though I was a bit nervous at first, the flight really wasn’t so bad!
Just outside of Mt. Hagen we toured Koban plantation, guided by owners Brian and Pauline. Brian’s father was one of the first to cultivate coffee in PNG some 60 plus years ago, and Brian has even kept a handful of those original Arabica bourbon trees. Amazingly they still produce some fruit to this day!
Most of the plantation is growing the Typica variety. We also toured their wet mill (pictured above), where the cherries are pulped, fermented and washed. Then back up to the homestead, where the parchment coffee is laid out on long blue tarps to dry in the sun. The reason for the tarps is that the drying process can take several days and they can be “wrapped” up at night to prevent any moisture getting to the beans.
From here our group traveled over to Kimel plantation (where the majority of our PNG coffee is sourced) to spend the night.
We spent the night on Kimel plantation, hosted by estate manager Ranbir. Kimel is widely regarded as the finest coffee PNG has to offer.
The estate is located in the Western Highlands in the Waghi Valley approximately 50 Km south of Mount Hagen, near a small town called Banz, beside the Kimel river (hence the name).
The Western Highlands area is the largest coffee producing province in Papua New Guinea (PNG), with the Waghi Valley and the Dei Council, in particular, which the estate boarders, produce some of the finest coffees in PNG.
The elevation of the estate is 5,200ft above sea level and the soil is mostly rich sandy loam. The temperature ranges from 6 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees Celsius and the annual rainfall is approximately 260 to 270 mm.
The estate has some 620 hectares under production and the cultivation is conducted under shade-trees, such as Albizias and Grevilleas. The main coffee trees under production are; Blue Mountain, Tipica, Arusha, Catura, Catimor and Mondonovo.
The plantation has a permanent workforce of 432 which are housed on the estate, which also provides schooling for the children and medical facilities for the workforce at large including their families and dependents.