Origin Spotlight: Specialty Coffee in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea - ‘Dexter McCabe’

Specialty coffee; its different. Its unique. It is a beacon amongst the ubiquitous commercial coffee industry.

The coffee is of the highest quality, often fully traceable and processed very meticulously post-harvest. The green beans are nurtured in specific climates and at high elevation, promoting a hospitable environment for growth.

Specialty coffee should not be confused with gourmet or commodity coffee. Commodity coffee does not meet specific quality standards required of specialty coffee. The expense for specialty is undoubtedly justified by the quality, the process, and the story behind the coffee.

One noteworthy story comes from an ‘underdog’ within the specialty coffee industry – Papua New Guinea.

Our first encounter with coffee from PNG was completely serendipitous which has led us to investigate this understated nation further.


Coffee Production in PNG

Coffee production in PNG is dominated by village-based smallholder farmers, growing coffee in gardens up to two hectares in size. Smallholder farmers are responsible for over 85% of PNG’s annual harvest, making coffee a crucial source of income for more than 2.5 million inhabitants.

Despite the vital role coffee plays within the economy, production and export has been on a decline since the 1990s. Researchers have been working to derive methods which will facilitate the growth of the industry. Strengthening collective action and establishing strong partnerships between farmers, processors and buyers has been identified as paramount.

Farmers that grow together, prosper together.

Opportunities exist for smallholder farmers to collectively produce and market their coffee through grower cooperatives.

Through collective action, farmers can double productivity, negotiate improved prices, overcome information deficiencies among their peers, reduce transaction costs and become mediums for sourcing other services from chain leaders.

Social cohesion and social capital are vital in collective action, it facilitates networks, builds trust among members, and promotes shared vision. Values and norms become the shared common purpose amongst farmers and facilitates drive.

The PNG coffee market is thriving once again. With improved income smallholder farmers receive from specialty and high value coffee, they can access health services, pay school fees for their children, and increase their overall quality of life.

It is the story of perseverance, collaboration and cohesion which makes this coffee specialty.

Evidently, greatness is never achieved alone.

A communal purpose facilitates growth, communication, and quality of life. PNG is a small nation packed with grit, drive, and determination.

It is unanimously apt that it is our - ‘Deter McCabe’.

Happy Easter!


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