With its intense honey characteristic, not only was New Guinea coffee intriguing on the palate, so was the story of the people who grew it.
The coffee growing in this Southern Highland area, is rigorously protected by the producers who value and guard their organic status. Growing under the dense indigenous rainforest, growers combat the soil leaching, water retention and nitrogen leaching by the introduction of a nitrogen fixing leguminous ground creeper.
Remote, isolated and terribly hard to access, the area of Goroke is where the indigenous growers tend their native forest. They are entirely reliant on this crop of wild grown coffee, for their cash livelihood.
Tropical Fruit | Praline | Toffee
Region: Eastern Highlands Province
Altitude: 1800 – 2000m
Varietal: Typica, Bourbon
After many sessions of slurping and spilling Okapa down our shirts and dresses, we recommend to bring out all the natural flavour characters of this beautiful coffee by brewing in a plunger, as a filter pour over coffee, or run through an espresso machine, or as an outstanding stovetop brew.
We recently had a visit from Mitchell, who is the co-op leader of the Okapa region, who shared with us some of the benefits he and his community has seen first hand from the fairtrade premium. Mitchell's grandfather was a coffee farmer, his father was a coffee farmer, and now he is a coffee farmer of this incredible coffee. Okapa is the oldest certified fairtrade region in Papua New Guinea, more than 14 years. Premium funding has been able to provide new classrooms, coffee pulpers, water and irrigation supply to churches, hospitals, schools and surrounding villages. One of the greatest challenges for his village are the roads. Transporting the 50 kgs of coffee out of town, can sometimes take over 8 hours to pass through a short stretch of kilometers. The fairtrade premium has allowed the region to build better roads, which has cut down transport time by half.
We hope to sell more of this amazing coffee, to benefit more people in this very special community. Learn more about the origin story of the Fairtrade Cooperative behind the Niugini Okapa on the blog.
In order to determine Organic Certified boundaries within the family plots deep within the forest, the Coop funded GPS hand held navigation systems for the Organic Auditors to use with appropriate coordinates. The producers are also constantly trained in all aspects of Organic production. This happens both orally and with cartoon booklets, since there is no written language…and they are tested for their knowledge.
In spite of this, some years back, a grower decided to abuse the status and introduced artificial fertiliser for his own trees. His area was withdrawn from certification for 7 years, he lost his organic bonus payments and he was not allowed to use the Coop trucks to carry his beans the 90km to Goroke.
So remote and rudimentary is the coffee growing in this area, that many of the producers have until recently, pulped their cherry between 2 stones or in their mouth. Fairtrade Premiums have invested in 2,200 small hand pulpers, given to farmers, to assist with raising the pulping standards.
Okapa is a village on the high plateau of the mountain over which 100,000 people live as garden farmers who maintain their tribal rights. We are fortunate to have access to this very unique coffee..
This tribal group of producers, represents the first reliable source of ethical trade to this isolated region, growing their coffee within the canopy of indigenous forest.
The journey now, involves arduous and dangerous work along a mud bog road that is approx. 90 km to Goroke, and can take sometimes up to 16 hours. The heavily laden vehicles often get bogged, so that the sacks of parchment are unloaded, the vehicles pushed or dragged through the mud bog, then reloaded with the golden harvest. On occasion, groups of face painted and feathered warriors, come out of the bush to raid the bounty, armed with bows and arrows, only to be repelled by the one policeman riding gunshot on the convoy. All this for our luscious brown stuff in a white cup!
The impact of a reliable and accessible road cannot be understated. It has created business opportunities, increased the abilities to sell coffee and provided the access needed to increase health and education in the region.
This is a Fairtrade Okapa coffee grower in Southern Highlands PNG in 2012. It was on eve of presentation and screening of the Okapa Connections video to the local community in their newly built timber slab warehouse (no power).
The men gravitated together with mutual respect for all beards.
This was our third Fairtrade Organic coffee available since 2004.