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Highlights from the Highlands: Cupping in PNG

Five Senses CoffeeChris Jackson 12 September 2016

There is little doubting the potential of Papua New Guinea as a coffee-producing nation.  Since gaining their independence from Australia in 1975, the developing nation has worked hard to create jobs and generate wealth. The numbers are staggering. 60% of the population depend on coffee exports, or their subsidiary trade for an income.

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Five Senses Coffee has deep-seated roots in PNG. While we haven’t purchased coffee from the region for many years, we’ve been working closely with the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) in helping them develop systems in harvest, and post-processing to improve cup quality, and by extension, sell price and community wealth. This year I was honoured to have been invited to PNG to be one small piece of this very large, complex puzzle. With 7 other international judges, and 3 local judges, we would cup and score 114 Arabica and 14 Robusta samples before generating a top 24, and then, a top 10. Tiring work for even the most experienced cuppers. The results give great hope to the region.

In 2015 there were 79 entrants, and the winning score was just 83.00.

This year that score would’ve barely scraped you into the top 24, with the winning coffee scoring 85.75. At its best, the coffees had tasting notes of pineapple, peach, orange and honey. This is testament to the importance of quality drying, processing and storing.

It’s an exciting time to be a coffee producer in PNG. They’re making serious gains in cup quality, and are working hard to break into a growing international specialty market. The people are proud and passionate. They want to challenge the world’s best coffee producing nations. They’re improving; that’s clear. Now we just need to find out how far they can take it. Watch this space!

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