Our sourcing team is constantly traveling all over the world to find new and exciting coffees. Recently, one of our coffee buyers, Josemaria, took a trip to Papua New Guinea, one of the most remote and exotic coffee producing countries in the world. He had a great time and told us all about it:
This incredible location has been on my bucket list of places to visit for a long time, mainly because it looks wild, exotic, adventurous…. and I was right, this place meets all of those criteria, but has much more to offer! While visiting, it was important to me to change the way I saw coffee farming and coffee farmers – nothing in this place is comparable to the rest of the world; Papua is a world of its own.
Papua New Guinea has more than 1000 different tribes and more than 835 spoken languages. I had the unexpected good fortune to visit 4 different tribes; each one with their own traditional dress that are used just for when they have a special guest, which I was lucky enough to be considered. The reason I was special was because I am a coffee buyer… nothing special in my mind, but coffee is the only cash crop in the highlands – it is the motor that runs the economy, and reason I was treated so special.
How can I describe the feeling of being received by more than 100 people dancing and singing around me?! There was a big language barrier, but they were all so friendly and presented me with a gift, a bow and arrow. Being surrounded by a hundred farmers reminded me how important our company and our work is, because behind every container of coffee (that’s about 42,000 pounds), there are more than 200 farmers that contributed to creating that lot. Most of them only harvest 400 kg of parchment per year, around 4 (150 lb) bags of coffee like those we have at our warehouse, and for the great majority that’s the only income they will have all year. This really reminds me of the importance of paying FAIR PRICES. One “kina” (local currency) means a lot to these farmers.
Of all my coffee trips, I have never seen organic farms like these. The people are so respectful of nature and the environment, but sadly, coffee farming and some techniques that are very common in other countries are still new to them, such as pruning, replanting, raised beds etc. But the potential is there, and they still produce some of the old varieties- typica and Arusha. And everything is hand-picked and processed by the farmers’ family members.
I had to try the betel nut (also known as areca nut), a famous seed that is mixed with mustard and calcium, and makes your teeth look red. The betel nut was a gift to me from a farmer; these people don’t have much, but the few things they have they are willing to give. If they were able to, they would have sent me home with a pig, hundreds of potatoes and plantains, and a wife. In their culture, women and marriage are still treated as a negotiation, but are very well respected and protected by their husbands and children.
In terms of coffee quality, Papua New Guinea coffees have a flavor that is unique, actually, EXOTIC would be the word I would use to describe them, with low acidity and notes of guava and melon. I think these coffees will do great as one of our limited edition releases, they are so unique and have such an amazing story to tell.