August 13, 2023 9 min read

Papua New Guinea Coffee: A Delicious Gift from the Highlands

Papua New Guinea is a country with a rich and diverse culture, and its coffee is no exception. Grown in the highlands of the country, Papua New Guinea coffee is known for its delicious flavor and unique aroma.

The Sigri Coffee Estate

One of the most renowned coffee estates in Papua New Guinea is the Sigri Coffee Estate. Located 5,200 feet above sea level, the Sigri Coffee Estate benefits from the cool climate, high altitude, and bountiful rainfall of the highlands. These conditions create an ideal environment for growing arabica coffee beans, which are known for their smooth, flavorful taste.

The coffee farmers at the Sigri Coffee Estate still live very traditional lives. They are members of ancient tribal cultures that have thrived in the mountains and valleys of the highlands for centuries. Agriculture was invented independently in Papua New Guinea, and many farmers now include coffee among the crops they grow.

The Sigri Coffee Process

The coffee beans at the Sigri Coffee Estate are processed using a unique method that results in a superior cup of coffee. The beans are first washed, sun-dried, and hand-sorted. They are then fermented for three days, broken up every 24 hours for washing. Finally, the beans are totally immersed in water for one more day. This process produces a coffee with a smooth, rich flavor and a complex aroma.

The Peaberry Coffee Bean

The Sigri Coffee Estate also produces a special type of coffee bean called the peaberry. Peaberry coffee beans are rare and are formed when a coffee cherry only yields a single, oval-shaped seed. Due to their unique shape, peaberry coffee beans require both special handling and roasting. The peaberry coffee beans from the Sigri Coffee Estate have a rich, chocolatey flavor and a smooth, velvety texture.

Weaver's Coffee & Tea

Weaver's Coffee & Tea is proud to offer two very special coffees from Papua New Guinea: the Sigri Peaberry Coffee and the Papua New Guinea Coffee. Both coffees are grown at the Sigri Coffee Estate and are processed using the unique Sigri coffee process. They are both delicious and unique coffees that are sure to please coffee lovers everywhere.

Sigri Peaberry Coffee

The Sigri Peaberry Coffee is a rare and delicious coffee that is grown at the Sigri Coffee Estate in Papua New Guinea. The coffee beans are processed using a unique method that results in a smooth, rich flavor and a complex aroma. The peaberry coffee beans have a rich, chocolatey flavor and a smooth, velvety texture.

Papua New Guinea’s Geography

Located on the Eastern half of New Guinea, which is the world’s second largest island and close to Australia. New Guinea used to be attached to modern-day Australia as part of a super continent called Sahul, however, New Guinea became an island when the Torres Strait flooded about 10,000 years ago. Because of its location next to the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate, Papua New Guinea has an interesting geography which makes it a wonderful place to grow coffee. The north is composed of jagged limestone with extremely thick rainforest, a swampy south coast, and the middle of the country is covered in high mountains called the Highlands. Despite being tropical and situated near the equator, the highest points of the Highlands still get snow.

 Papua New Guinea Tribal Man in the Highlands on Top of a Mountain

A View of the Highlands. Photo by Stephen Gollan

Papua New Guinea is tropical year-round, but because of its location, is subject to monsoons in the north as well as earthquakes and tsunamis from erupting volcanoes and being situated between two tectonic plates. The Highlands, however, has its own weather patterns and the Highlands receives about 100 to 160 inches of rain throughout the year.

Papua New Guinea Culture

There are over 800 native languages spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. Most of the languages are spoken by less than 7,000 people, as many indigenous groups live in rural areas isolated from main urban areas and still rely on trading with other tribes instead of adopting a monetary trading system.

Even though it was connected to Australia for a long time, Papua New Guinea has vastly different animals and does not have any large mammals. Its largest animals are flightless cassowaries and crocodiles. Instead, the country is known for its extreme variety in birds and reptiles that have evolved in isolation. Papua New Guinea has over 30 different species of birds-of-paradise, and the bird-of-paradise is on their country’s flag. The country has the hooded Pitohi, one of the world’s few poisonous birds.

Despite being a newly independent country, Papua New Guinea was not heavily developed by its colonizers and many land developers have a hard time making it here because of the rugged terrain, high cost of infrastructure and lack of Western education in indigenous tribes.

Papua New Guinea’s gold, copper, and oil deposits account for over 72% of its export earnings. The country is also a heavy producer of palm oil, and the largest crops exported are coffee, cocoa, and coconut oil.

The Boom and Bust of Papua New Guinea Coffee

Coffee production in Papua New Guinea can be traced back to the 1920s when 18 commercial coffee production sites were established.

The first coffee planted on the island was actually Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, which is usually known as some of the most expensive coffee in today’s market due to its extremely high quality and the small number of farms in Jamaica.

Major infrastructure has been put in place to help ease the exportation of coffee, which employs more than 2.5 million people and is one percent of the world’s coffee production. Coffee production took off in the 1970s, and became internationally noticed in the 1980s when frost in many Brazilian farms allowed Papua New Guinea to take the limelight.

However, the boom of coffee had major effects. When coffee farmers began to get noticed, they took on debts from Western investors that they were not able to pay off. Farms also quickly became decentralized, and many farmers became independent estates instead of being a part of one mega-farm. Coffee rust, a fungal disease that is present in soil and will kill the plant, also forced many of the coffee farms to shut down during the 1990s. In 1998, coffee accounted for 42% of Papua New Guinea's total agricultural exports compared to 2009 where it was 19% of total agricultural exports.

Frequent hijackings are also a major hurdle for Papua New Guinea. Some of the larger coffee producers report losing up to fifty percent of their produce due to theft each year and as a result, coffee production and coffee exports have been declining.

However, current movements by the private and public sectors have helped moved Papua New Guinea toward greater sustainability, better soil quality, and improved education of coffee farmers. This has resulted in some notable coffees coming out of Papua New Guinea which are incredibly delicious when properly roasted.

Where is Papua New Guinea Located

Papua New Guinea is in Oceania, specifically occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia.

It's the world's third-largest island country and boasts diverse landscapes, ranging from stunning beaches and coral reefs to towering mountains and dense rainforests. Here are some of the interesting geographical features of Papua New Guinea:

  • Active volcanoes: The country is home to several active volcanoes, including Mount Wilhelm, the highest mountain in Papua New Guinea and one of the highest in Southeast Asia.
  • Coral reefs: Papua New Guinea has some of the most extensive and diverse coral reefs in the world, making it a popular destination for diving and snorkeling.
  • Rainforests: The country is covered in lush rainforests, home to a rich variety of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

How Do People Make a Living in Papua New Guinea

In Papua New Guinea, how people make a living depends greatly on where they live and their access to resources and opportunities. Here's a breakdown of the main sources of income:

  1. Agriculture:
  • Subsistence farming: This is the primary way of life for over 80% of the population, mostly in rural areas. They grow food crops like sweet potatoes, taro, and bananas for their own families and communities.
  • Cash crops: Some farmers grow crops like coffee, cocoa, and palm oil for sale. This can provide additional income, but relies on access to markets and infrastructure.
  1. Resource extraction:
  • Mining: Papua New Guinea has significant resources like copper, gold, and natural gas. While offering jobs, this sector raises concerns about environmental impact and community benefits.
  • Logging: Forestry provides some income but raises concerns about sustainability and deforestation.
  1. Informal sector:
  • Small businesses: Many people make a living through small-scale businesses like selling goods at markets, running small shops, or offering services like transportation or repairs.
  • Wage labor: Formal jobs are limited, mostly concentrated in urban areas like Port Moresby. These include government jobs, service industries, and some positions in resource extraction.
  1. Other sources:
  • Tourism: While still developing, tourism offers some opportunities, especially in coastal areas and for cultural experiences.
  • Fishing: Coastal communities rely on fishing for subsistence and some sell their catch.

Factors Influencing Income in Papua New Guinea

  • Location: Access to resources, jobs, and markets varies greatly across urban and rural areas.
  • Education: Higher education opens doors to formal employment opportunities.
  • Gender: Women often face limitations in accessing land, education, and formal jobs.

Papua New Guinea's economy is classified as developing, and many people face challenges like poverty and limited access to opportunities. However, the diverse landscape and resilient people offer potential for future growth and development.

It's important to remember that this is a simplified overview, and the reality is much more complex and nuanced.

While there isn't a definitive number available due to various factors, estimates suggest a significant portion of coffee farmers in Papua New Guinea are women. Here's what we know:


  • Over 50%: Several sources, including the Lowy Institute and PNG Women in Coffee Association (PNGWICA), point to more than half of the 450,000 smallholder coffee farmers being women. This translates to roughly 225,000 women coffee farmers.
  • Substantial contribution: Regardless of the exact number, it's widely acknowledged that women play a critical role in Papua New Guinea's coffee industry, particularly in the Highlands region.

Challenges in getting an exact number:

  • Informal economy: Much of the coffee production happens in the informal sector, making data collection challenging.
  • Gender roles: Cultural norms sometimes make it difficult to accurately track women's contributions within family-run farms.
  • Varying definitions: Defining "coffee farmer" can differ across studies, impacting numbers.

Additional points:

  • Increasing visibility: Organizations like PNGWICA work to empower and support women coffee farmers, raising awareness of their significant role.
  • Impact on families and communities: Women's involvement in coffee production often leads to improved household income, education, and overall well-being.

In conclusion: While an exact number of women coffee farmers in Papua New Guinea is elusive, estimates suggest over 225,000, highlighting their crucial contribution to the industry and potential for further empowerment.

Papua New Guinea's coffee production boasts unique characteristics thanks to its geography, climate, and farming practices. Here's a breakdown of how coffee is grown there:

Ideal growing conditions:

  • Highlands: Most coffee (75%) is grown in the mountainous highlands, benefiting from:
    • Rich volcanic soil: Provides essential nutrients for healthy and flavorful beans.
    • Cool temperatures: Ideal for Arabica beans, known for their complex flavors.
    • High altitude: Contributes to slower bean development, leading to denser, more nuanced flavors.
  • Rainforest shade: Many farms use shade trees, promoting biodiversity and protecting coffee plants from harsh sunlight.

Traditional and sustainable practices:

  • Smallholder farms: Over 95% of coffee production comes from small family farms, typically owning just a few hectares.
  • Organic practices: Limited access to chemicals makes most coffee naturally organic, often certified as such.
  • Manual labor: Hand-picking ensures only ripe cherries are harvested, maximizing quality.
  • Wet processing: The most common method involves removing fruit flesh with water, resulting in clean and bright flavors.

Harvesting and processing:

  • Harvest season: Typically, between May and October, with hand-picking ensuring ripeness.
  • Wet processing: Coffee cherries are pulped to remove the fruit flesh, then fermented and washed to remove remaining mucilage.
  • Drying: Beans are sun-dried on raised beds, ensuring even drying and quality control.
  • Milling and hulling: Removes the remaining parchment layer and silver skin, revealing the green coffee beans.
  • Export: Beans are sorted, graded, and exported for roasting and consumption.

Unique flavors:

Papua New Guinea coffee known for its:

  • Medium body: Not too heavy or light, offering a smooth and pleasant mouthfeel.
  • Low to medium acidity: Brighter than African coffees, but not overly tart.
  • Fruity, floral, or nutty notes: Complex flavor profiles influenced by varietals, terroir, and processing.

Challenges and future:

While Papua New Guinea's coffee is renowned, challenges exist:

  • Limited infrastructure: Transportation and access to markets can be difficult for remote farmers.
  • Climate change: Rising temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns pose risks.
  • Fair trade and sustainability: Ensuring farmers receive fair prices and promoting sustainable practices remains crucial.

Overall, Papua New Guinea's coffee production showcases a unique blend of traditional practices, ideal growing conditions, and strong community involvement, yielding distinct and flavorful beans appreciated by coffee lovers worldwide.

Our Papua New Guinea Single Origin Coffee has subtle wine overtones and complex, date-like fruit flavors ending with a long, syrup finish.

Our Papua New Guinea Peaberry Reserve Coffee has a full, rich body with hints of spice and fruitiness, with a clean refreshing finish.

The next time you are enjoying a cup of coffee, try to image where it came from, the people who grow the coffee and the long road from their farm to your kitchen and ultimately to your coffee cup. Our Master Coffee roaster has worked with his coffee brokers and specific farms for over 44 years, which allow us to create coffees that are not found on a grocery shelf. If you love Indonesian coffees, we invite you into our world and hope you will purchase and enjoy our Papua New Guinea coffees.