In what is proving to be an exciting start to 2015, Mercanta is now proud to offer – for the very first time – three unique coffees from Papua New Guinea.
As we mentioned in a previous article, Grant Rattray, head of Mercanta Asia, recently travelled to PNG to explore the exciting coffees that this often-overlooked origin has to offer. As a result of his hunt, three washed coffees from Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Eastern Highlands are now available from our European and North American warehouses.
PNG holds a certain appeal for any green coffee buyer. The country presents an opportunity for genuine discovery work, mapping out quality and uncovering unique smallholder coffees that otherwise may be destined for bulk shipments to large buyers. This is back-to-basics work for the green buyer and hugely rewarding both professionally and personally.
The aim of this particular buying trip was very straightforward: select out the higher-cupping lots, define the quality of this new harvest; establish traceability; and seek to pay a premium for those lots. Under normal circumstances, smallholder lots would be cupped and then assigned to bulk, full-container lots for shipment to larger importers or roasters. However, by picking out the lots we feel offer the most exciting cup profiles, we’re able to secure these more unique lots for specialty roasters. Meanwhile, we also ensure a higher price for the farmers than the larger commercial shipments are willing to offer. By engaging in this way, we hope to incentivise producers and mills to strive for better quality and make traceability in this origin easier to navigate, thereby improving quality, prices and – ultimately – livelihoods across the board.
After a week of cupping, we picked out 10 lots for further evaluation and finally decided on 3 exceptional lots. All are smallholder coffees. Two of the three lots, Atuwauka and Rika Rika, are graded locally as cherry (CH-AX) and are fully washed and sun-dried on canvas ‘sails’ (see the photos below). The other, Moanti, is a premium smallholder coffee (PSC) which is a semi washed and sun-dried smallholder-produced parchment.
About these coffees:
• Atuwauka is a private processor located in the Asaro District that buys parchment coffee from a network of small parchment collectors around the Unggai mountain range in the Eastern Highlands Province. Atuwauka buys this parchment and then finishes sun-drying to the required moisture content before taking the coffee to be milled. The green beans are sold to the exporter where additional milling and hand-sorting is undertaken to ensure consistency and quality.
• Rika Rika is a cooperative society in the Hengonofi and Okapa Districts. The majority of the farms are operated by smallholders. Farmers pulp and ferment their own coffee and then wash and sun-dry on canvas beds. The parchment is then transported to the mill, where the coffee is hulled and graded.
• Moanti is a network of 269 farmers located around the Dunatina Valley in the Henganofi District of the Eastern Highlands Province. There are some 16,000 farming households in the district and coffee is farmed almost entirely on ‘coffee gardens’. Coffee is then processed in the same way as Rika Rika.
These coffees have recently arrived at our UK warehouse and are available now… (while they last, that is!). We’re confident these new profiles will be a great success with ever more demanding specialty roaster buyers, and we hope to continue our sourcing work in PNG in 2015.