The Eastern Highlands
The story of coffee in Papua New Guinea is unlike any other origin. In the Eastern Highlands, altitudes range from 1,400–1,700 masl, across a variety of districts, valleys, soils and microclimates. However, roads are often nonexistent, communities are incredibly remote, and most coffee is grown casually in gardens alongside a family’s food supply. In fact, 99 percent of coffee is grown by individuals with an average farm size of .83 hectares and an average production of 10 bags per year.
Without access to mills, these producers pulp, ferment, wash and dry their own coffee, selling small volumes of parchment. It is easy to marvel that coffee makes it from these gardens to our cups at all.
Due to the extreme lack of access, all hands along the coffee journey are critical. One such important player in the supply chain is the aggregator or middleman. While in other origins these players can take on (an often earned) negative connotation, in Papua New Guinea, they very often provide the only practical opportunity for many coffees to reach the market. Middlemen set up collections roadside or travel through communities purchasing tiny volumes of parchment with cash, collecting it to truckloads and accumulating enough to be processed and sold to exporters.
Papua New Guinea Limited Edition Concept
This point in the story is where our sister company New Guinea Highlands Coffee Exports (NGHCE) enters the picture. Decades-long operations have made NGHCE experts in navigating such unique circumstances. One of its most reliable tools is its Quality Control analysis. In fact, NGHCE maintains a strict goal of cupping every lot brought to its door — sometimes by the producers themselves — no matter how small. Under these circumstances, it's able to identify specialty lots, “rescuing” them from being combined into anonymous blends. NGHCE is committed to supporting and developing these high-performing coffees as Papua New Guinea Limited Edition lots.
The Papua New Guinea Limited Edition concept aims to not only identify high-quality deliveries but also to reward the producers, when possible, with higher premiums, which have direct and immediate impacts on rural livelihoods. (Many of the Limited Editions are village-based volumes, where a middleman is exclusively buying from a specific group of farmers.)
The premiums also incentivize high-quality deliveries, ideally developing relationships that lead to repeat procurement. NGHCE is uniquely positioned to promote the other side of this transaction as well. Its long-standing relationships with exporters allow it to sell these lots, despite the absence of very detailed background information. As illustrated, the reality is that such detailed information is simply unavailable.
NGHCE supports more than 4,000 smallholders in the Eastern Highlands and is committed to highlighting high-performing lots. By rewarding quality with the immediate benefit of high premiums, NGHCE seeks to deliver benefits to those who are often least likely to receive it.
Offerings and Cupping Notes
Kerepo — Stone fruit, citrus, honey, floral, caramel; vibrant acidity, juicy body.
Korak Hasukave — Citrus, honey, chocolate; delicate acidity, smooth body.
Neama — Tropical fruit, nutty, chocolate; malic acidity, velvety body.
Pataro Gasaki — Tropical fruit, citrus, brown sugar; bright acidity, smooth body.