Papua New Guinea is often lumped in with Indonesian coffees. But it is distinct in nearly every way. Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of the island it shares with Irian Jaya, which produces only a token amount of coffee itself. Its a world away from Java or Sumatra, geographically, culturally, and in most aspects of coffee production. The multitudinous ethnic groups of PNG share nothing in common with the Bahasa or Batak or Gayo peoples, or the many other Indonesian groups. And the coffee is not wet-hulled as many Indonesia coffees are; they are wet-processed, which might sound similar in name but is remarkably different in terms of the resulting cup flavors.
The Baroida Plantation, located in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, was founded by Ben Colbran in the 1960s. Ben first purchased the land from a native man named Taro and they were amongst the first people to cultivate crops in these valleys. In 1965, the government encouraged the early settlers to start growing coffee as a long-term sustainable crop. Ben started to plant coffee trees becoming one of the first coffee producers of the Eastern Highlands The Colbran Family is now in its third generation with Ben’s son Nichol and grandson Chris running Baroida plantation. Through either luck or good design, the Baroida plantation sits at the apex of the Lamari river valley and Mount Jabarra range. The plantation itself is at about 1700 meters amongst thousands of hectares of cleared land with former colonial coffee estates surrounding them (now run by native landowners) and flanked by mountains (up to 2300 meters) filled with small holder coffee producers. I visited last season, which was a large crop but a difficult one too. All the coffee came in a short time span, and the drying of parchment from the smallholder neighbors that the Colbrans buy from did not seem good, in my opinion. That is why this lot, from their own farm, seemed to have better picking and processing, since it is all done under the control of the estate.
This coffee is fruit-forward both aromatically and in the cup. The dry fragrance has a hint of rose, along with ripe fruits, saturated sweetness, and heads toward tropical. There's some spiced notes in there too with a touch of cinnamon and mace. The spice and fruit aspects shift in the wet grounds toward Syrah, with a spiced plum characteristic. Fruity chocolate (like Scharfenberger) and jam/preserves come up off the break. The fruit in the cup is definitely "bold" but sweet, and again goes toward tropical. There's strawberry and plum, as well as guava, and papaya. We tasted cola at darker roast levels that with the fruityness is a bit like Dr Pepper. There's a citrus quality to this coffee reminiscent of kumquat or overripe lemon. Baroida finishes with citrus zest and cocoa, especially deeper roasts. City roast may be a little too light for this coffee and brings about a slightly drying aspect at the tip of your tongue. I think City+ to Full City+ helps to stabilize the profile a bit. Allowing this coffee to rest 48 hours or more tones down the fruit without compromising the sugar content.