When it comes to Pacific coffee, Papua New Guinea tops the charts. Recently, we’ve been working with a coffee called Mile High, and we’re having a pretty hard time containing our excitement.
Mile High is the grade A coffee from the Arokara Co-op in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. It is grown at a breathtaking altitude one mile above sea level (hence, the name Mile High) on the outskirts of the mountain town Kainantu.
The Arokara Co-op is made of plantations such as Tairora and Gadsup, surrounded by mountains reaching staggering altitudes. Arokara has been growing and processing coffee for more than 20 years. The landowner clans who now own and run Arokara together choose not to use any chemicals or fertilizers.
Mile High cherries are hand picked and pulped on the same day by the entire clan. The fresh cherries are then fermented for about 36 hours in cement vats, after which they are cleaned in crisp, clear mountain water from the nearby Aru River. Finally, they are left to dry in the sun for 7-12 days, slowly obtaining a lovely bluish color. Unlike many Indonesian coffees, which are wet-hulled, Mile High is carefully wet-processed to produce a consistently high-quality bean.
Subtle Flavors, Undeniable Quality from a Versatile Bean
I had a chance to sit down with our Roastmaster Brandon Riggs, resident Barista Alex Jeans and Head Roaster Brad Kirby to explore this exceptional coffee and hear what they had to say about our Papua New Guinea (or PNG) Mile High.
They all commented on the subtle, yet fruity malt smoothness of the bean that makes Mile High particularly drinkable. Its pleasant aftertaste lingers on the tongue to be savored.
“As espresso, this coffee’s attributes are amplified in all the right ways,” said Roastmaster Brandon Riggs. “If a customer is looking for something different but instantly loveable, PNG Mile High is the way to go. Thanks to its creamy body and subtle sweet notes, this particular coffee does extremely well in milk-based drinks.”
Aroma: Mildly Sweet and Fruity
Body: Round, Smooth and Creamy
Flavor: Subtle Fruit, Milk Chocolate
Acidity: Medium, Refreshing
Aftertaste: Pleasantly Fruity, Sweet and Lingering
To explore the coffee’s unique flavors, our SCAA-certified barista Alex Jeans suggests brewing Mile High using the V60 pour over method, which really brings out its silky smooth body.
“The V60 method really highlights the coffee’s subtle fruit flavors and milk chocolate aftertaste,” Alex said. “If you want to highlight the coffee’s tangy, bright citrus notes, then preparing it as an espresso is the way to go.”
When brewing PNG remember to use the right coffee to water ratio—roughly 1:16 or 1 gram of coffee per 16 milliliters/grams of water or in other words 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water—and the appropriate grind for your brew method. See our Brewing and Grinding Guide for specific measurements and grinds for your particular brew method.
Coffee Growth in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, occupying the eastern half of the island New Guinea in the Pacific region of Melanesia. Home to 848 languages and thousands of independent indigenous communities, Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s least explored countries.
Almost 40 percent of the population lives a self-sustainable natural lifestyle, and the entire nation relies heavily on customary subsistence-based agriculture. Coffee production in the country started around the mid-1920’s when Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee seeds were planted there, making PNG a closely related descendent of one of the most expensive and sought after coffees in the world.
The first coffee plantations were established in the humid Sangara foothills in 1926. During the 1980’s coffee production moved out of the plantations and more into the hands of localized farmers who are now responsible for over 85 percent of total national production. Coffee is the country’s second largest agricultural export after oil palm, and is responsible for employing over 2.5 million people. The majority of their coffee is grown in the highlands, where 70 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture.
Papua New Guinea coffees come from the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, which sits comfortably north of the Australian landmass. Much like neighboring Indonesian coffees, New Guineas tend to come either from estates with large-scale facilities or much smaller farmers using simple backyard processing methods, both of which yield impressive results. The mountainous topography of the island lends itself to endless coffee varieties, making Papua New Guinea home to some of the highest quality beans in the world.
Due to a turbulent history of constantly evolving infrastructure and fluctuating global markets, the Papua New Guinea coffee industry has faced countless challenges over the years. But increased introduction of modern processing methods combined with an intimate understanding of the crop has allowed PNG to continue to grow as one of the most desirable coffees on the market. Papua New Guinea is actually responsible for 1 percent of total world coffee production, and here at Stockton Graham & Co., we are thankful for that.
To order our PNG Mile High, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.