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Coffees from India and the Pacific: Papua New Guinea

Coffee labeled New Guinea comes from Papua New Guinea, often abbreviated PNG, which occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. Like Indonesia coffees, New Guineas come in two versions: estate coffees that have been meticulously wet-processed in large-scale facilities, and small-holder, peasant coffees that usually are wet-processed by the farmers using the simplest of backyard methods.

Most New Guineas sold in North American specialty stores are estate coffees: either Sigri, grown in Western Highlands Province near the town of Mount Hagen by the W.R. Carpenter company, or estate coffees from the Eastern Highlands Province exported by Angko Limited as Arusafa or Arona.

Depending on year and harvest, Sigri, Arona, and other New Guinea estate coffees range from pleasant to splendid, at best displaying the authority of a high-grown coffee together with the transparency of a carefully wet-processed coffee while retaining the fragrant, low-key luxuriousness characteristic of all coffees of the Malay Archipelago.

Papua New Guinea small-holder coffees often are certified organically grown. They share the problem faced by all small-holder coffees worldwide. If hundreds or thousands of small-holders do their own wet-processing and drying, quality is erratic. Many of these New Guineas arrive in North America musty, hard tasting, earthy, or fermented. When they are clean tasting, however, they too express the coffee genius of the Pacific: low-key, vibrant, luxuriously deep. Efforts are being made to control the processing and grading of some of these coffees and establish them as recognized origins. Village Premium Morobe from Morobe Province in the east-central part of the country represents one of these efforts.

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Adapted from Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying; Espresso: Ultimate Coffee; and Home Coffee Roasting: Romance & Revival. St. Martin's Press.
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