PNG Baroida Estate Washed Coffee
Updated: Oct 12, 2020
PNG Baroida Estate Washed coffee is a single origin specialty grade coffee beans from Baroida Estate farm Eastern Highlands region in Papua New Guinea. This coffee is fully washed processed and roasted in light level. This coffee has citrus acidity and light body. Apricot, vanilla-like flavor with caramel and honey aroma.
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.
The Baroida plantation sits at the highest point 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.
PNG’s unique grading system includes X and AX bean sizes. AX indicates that the lot has beans that are screen sizes 14 to 17. This means that beans in an AX lot are between 5.5 and 6.75 millimeters in size.
Did You Know?
---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.
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 his son, 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.
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 disk pulpers. Then, it dry-ferments in vats for approximately 36 hours. Water is pumped into the vats in a circular motion to naturally agitate the coffee and remove any remaining mucilage. Coffee is then sundried on tarps, where it is turned regularly to ensure even drying.
While coffee from Papua New Guinea can be prepared in a variety of ways with various benefits, a couple of the best options are to use a French press or to make an espresso.
The French press, in particular, both pulls the oils out in full force and allows the fruitier, brighter side to come out to play. This results in an excitingly bold cup of coffee.
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 lead to better quality coffee and improved livelihoods for the nation’s smallholder coffee producers.
Most plants grown in the PNG Highlands today can be genetically linked to plants that grew on the Blue Mountain Coffee plantation in the 1930s. We can follow these genetic precursors to modern Highland plants as they traveled from Blue Mountain Coffee to another station a little more than 250 kilometers northwest in the Aiyua Valley in the Eastern Highlands. Then, they spread across the highlands over the course of many years as the station distributed seeds to smallholder farmers.
Most farmers in PNG grow coffee on small plots of land intercropped with other cash and subsistence crops. Most land where coffee is grown can more aptly be described as “coffee gardens” than as farms or plantations.
Many smallholders in PNG process their cherry at home. Farmers pulp their cherry—usually with small drum pulpers or other hand-powered methods—and then ferment them for approximately 36 hours. After washing the parchment to remove any remaining mucilage, producers will dry parchment to 10.5% moisture content. The predominant drying methods are sun drying on raised beds or tarps or mechanical dryers, of which the Asaro dryer is most popular.
Drying typically occurs in two stages. First, skin drying reduces overall moisture content from approximately 55% to around 43%. The second stage, main drying, consists of several smaller changes that can be confirmed by farmers by conducting simple tests and by looking at the color of the inside of the bean.
Some farmers sell their coffee as cherry. While this often means that farmers receive less money at the time of sale, it can sometimes mean higher profits in the long run. Mills that receive cherry can retain more control over quality. In turn, higher quality coffee can sell for higher prices and enable mills to pay farmers more for high quality cherry.
In PNG, it’s been particularly difficult to organize farmers in collective or cooperatives. This is due in part to the incredible diversity of tribal groups and languages.