Coffee profile: Papua New Guinea

Soaring mountains, crystal blue waters, rainforests, and pristine air… Papua New Guinea is a coffee growing oasis on the eastern half of New Guinea island. Situated over 600 islands and located just below the equator and just north of Australia, Papua New Guinea is stunningly diverse with over 825 known languages and distinctly rural with fewer than 20% of the population living in urban centers. The population’s rural lifestyle coupled with the industrial challenges posed by a non-contiguous land mass, coral reefs, and underdeveloped transportation routes has ensured that agriculture — most notably coffee — remains the dominant industry for this Oceanic island.

Most of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) coffee grows 4,000+ feet above sea level in the New Guinea Highlands where altitude, ocean moisture, volcanic soil, and a natural canopy harmonize into ideal conditions for coffee growing. Coffee was first brought to Papua New Guinea in the late 1800s but the industry only started to thrive in the 1920s after an experimental plot of arabica coffee was planted using coffee seeds from Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The experiment was a resounding success. Descendents from these original seeds were disseminated across the highlands, producing what we now refer to as PNG arabica coffee.

Over the past century, little has changed in the techniques used to farm and harvest PNG coffee. Most PNG coffee is still farmed on very small plantations manned by locals or on what has come to be known as coffee gardens (sometimes peasant plots) — small patches of land were individual families cultivate approximately 20 coffee plants alongside their subsistence agriculture. Few of these small farms and no individual farmer could afford the cost of organic certification so, while very little PNG coffee is certified organic, nearly all of it is organically grown and harvested using traditional methods.

At Mills / QB we roast PNG coffee to a rich full-city shade to preserve the beans’ natural delicacy and brilliant sweet and spice notes. Full-bodied with nice acidity, the cup has dark chocolate, cherry, and fresh-cut maple overtones that close with hints of mint and cumin. Overall, this is a wonderfully smooth, high-quality, balanced cup! To purchase Papua New Guinea coffee, click here.


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