Layered and complex. Juicy acidity, blackcurrant, sloe berries, orange, chocolate. Hint of ground pepper on back end. Beautiful coffee.
Unlike many PNG specialty coffee stories, this coffee initiative does not have a long and rich history. In fact, the Riverside coffee is the result of a very new initiative. A local entrepreneur in Kabiufa, Moses Venapoe, attended some of our coffee workshops on best coffee practices. This encouraged him to try start buying coffee with a firm focus on the best possible quality.
Coffee from the Kabiufa area usually exchanges ownership in random small volumes at one of the many anonymous ‘roadside scales’ (small parchment buying points). This coffee ends up in blended untraceable and unremarkable Y grade lots. This is the case when there is no dedicated local coffee buyer to access and market the regionality of this coffee, and this was the case in Moses’ community.
In November 2019 Moses decided to try his luck and his skills and fill the void of an absent dedicated coffee buyer by setting up a buying station for his community in Kabiufa. He did so by vigorously implementing best post-harvesting and processing practices and demanding the same from his suppliers from day one! Unlike most coffee buyers in the area who trade parchment, Moses set up a cherry buying operation and built a small wet mill in his own back yard to ensure full control of the wet milling, fermentation and drying of the coffee.
First cherries at the wet mill were purchased late November 2019, in the far end of that year’s coffee season under the trade name ‘Riverside Coffee’. With high-quality in mind, Moses organised the buying process in a (for PNG) unique way: significant premiums of 30% above market price are paid immediately to the supplier for a “red cherry only” delivery. This means cherry is hand-sorted at the wet mill, prior to weighing it and buying it. The carefully selected ripe cherry gets processed while the unripe cherry is discarded. This serves both as a deterrent to the delivery of unripe cherries and to encourage better harvesting at the farm.
Behind the wet mill area, Riverside Coffee has set up raised drying beds on which the parchment is carefully sun-dried over a period of 7 to 9 days. Any obvious remaining impurities are removed from the drying beds by hand. This results in immaculate looking parchment that is brought to NGHCE’s dry mill for processing.
Although Moses has only been operating on a small scale (50 smallholder cherry suppliers) and is only new to the world of coffee, his ability to effectively implement best practices are remarkable. Of course, the high premiums being paid pique the interest of more coffee growers in the area.
Riverside has already several deliveries of small lots under its belt. The frequency and consistency between and within deliveries are a firm indicator that the quality we found is not just a “one-off lucky delivery”. In our cupping lab every delivery stood out as excellent: consistency, razor clean bright flavours, and very low defects. This underlines that this immaculately processed Kabiufa coffee deserves a place in the spotlight.
New Guinea Highlands is excited and proud to support this initiative and to be able to work with Moses since the very beginning of his efforts. We will keep following the momentum of his initiative in the Kabiufa coffee growing community throughout the 2020 season and will be part of the quality control mechanisms on site. In our latest visit we learnt that cherry suppliers already have started more selective harvesting and post-harvest cherry selection on farm-site, prior to delivery of cherry to the wet mill. Understandably the very high premium is a high motivator to do so.
The excellent quality and the direct impact on the community is for NGHCE enough reason to gladly support the premium price levels for this unique coffee. It is our goal to continue to do so in order to maintain this high level of quality and high level of community impact throughout the season and beyond. We -and any of our guests- have a standing invite to visit the Kabiufa buying point and its supply chain and we will certainly be doing so.
Just incredible. With similar aromatics to Kenyan coffees, this lot made me discover a whole new array of flavours in PNG coffees.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to explore new microlots, you won’t be disappointed!