Our first PNG is on the shelves! We've been hunting for a PNG coffee for the past two seasons that's knocked our socks off, so we're pretty stoked to launch this stunning coffee from Baroida Estate.
Baroida Estate is located in the Kainantu District, Eastern Highlands Province. The estate was founded by Ben Colbran in the 1960’s when the Government encouraged foreign agriculturalists to begin cultivating land throughout the highlands. Ben first purchased the land from a native man named Taro and was amongst the first farmers to cultivate coffee in these valleys. Today, Ben’s son Nicol runs the plantation.
The name ‘Baroida’ comes from the Baroida spirit, believed by locals to reside in a large river rock sitting in one of the main rivers flowing through the estate. This particular rock has stubbornly remained in the middle of the river for as long as anybody can remember, refusing to budge through the most severe floods, even when other rocks have been washed away.
The Baroida plantation sits at the apex of the Lamari river valley and Mount Jabarra range. The plantation itself sits at about 1,691 meters above sea level amongst thousands of hectares of cleared land with former colonial coffee estates surrounding them (now run by native landowners) and flanked by mountains filled with smallholder coffee producers who cultivate close to a million trees.
One of the biggest challenges that the Colbrans faced when they first started out was the issue of soil water- logging. The system widely used for planting coffee seedlings in Papua New Guinea was adapted from Kenya. When planting a new seedling, you dig a hole approximately one meter wide by one meter deep, fill it with top soil and then plant the seedling in it.
This method was completely unsuitable for the wet highlands of PNG, where the average annual rainfall is 90 inches (as opposed to Kenya’s <60 inches). This issue was solved by digging drainage ditches in between each row of coffee. After a short time Ben became very good at ‘reading’ the coffee to see what it needed (i.e. certain fertilizers or whether the coffee was diseased). This knowledge grew over time with experience and these solutions were passed on to Nichol, who still implements them today.
Some minor adjustments have been made over the years as Colbran Coffeelands has grown in size and output. More shade trees have been planted in order to reduce requirements for fertilizer as well as keep weeds under control. Of course, with more shade comes lower yields. Therefore, Colbran Coffeelands has established renovation and planting programs in order to be able to meet future demand.
Nonetheless, according to Nicol, the high quality of coffee from Colbran Coffeelands is, in part, due to ‘old fashioned’ systems that have been in place since the late 60’s.
Today the farm composes around 220 hectares of mature coffee trees alongside some sections of newer plantings. Colbran Coffeelands also works with farms and farmers in the surrounding region, offering processing and marketing support.
Harvest & Post-Harvest
Meticulous separation for quality control helps maintain the high quality of the estate’s coffee. After careful sorting, cherry is pulped on disc pulpers. Parchment and remaining mucilage are laid on tarps to sundry. Parchment is raked frequently to ensure even drying.
Coffee in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a relative newcomer to the specialty coffee scene. The remote locations of the nation’s smallholders—who produce 85% of total coffee in the country—combined with historically-poor infrastructure has made the transition to specialty difficult. Nonetheless, the country is working towards innovative solutions that will hopefully lead to better quality coffee and improved livelihoods for the nation’s smallholder coffee producers.