When I started this journey into roasting, I was encouraged to focus on five staples in Southeast Asia. West Java, Sumatra, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and Sulawesi are the five. Focusing on those five should give me a great foundation to roasting and understanding these coffees from Southeast Asia.
The current Roasters Journey Box features beans from Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea, and I am focusing on those two beans in this blog post.
Both these coffees use the same process to remove the outer layers of the Bean, so they roast in a similar way as well. The process method of being washed is gaining focus because it has the opportunity to produce citrus and fruit forward coffees, a great time to enter the market with recent Central American coffee supply issues.
Timor Leste coffee has the opportunity to dry in the sun, because of a unique dry season that is longer and coincides with harvest time of these coffees. The plants are grown between 1400 and 1600 meters above sea level. Why is this important? Coffees grown at higher altitudes tend to be more pronounced in flavor. Higher altitudes also tend to regulate weather conditions and keep them at 60-70 degree F consistently, ideal growing conditions.
Papua New Guinea coffees are produced in the Eastern Highlands and are the main cash crop, growing alongside sweet potatoes, cabbage and bananas. They also grow at an elevation of about 1400 meters above sea level.
Over 400 small scale coffee farmers live in remote communities deep within the forest and have a long history of carrying their harvests by foot to washing stations. This coffee is not an easy coffee to get. Many tribal conflicts used to exist and coffee cultivation provided a way for tribes to work together and not just against other tribes.
The climate in Papua New Guinea is similar in the dry season, as it coincides with the harvest time of coffee as well. Communication is definitely a struggle in PNG, there are over 800 languages spoken between local tribes.
What makes this coffee exciting to me are the vast differences between coffees from the 400 farmers and all grown without chemicals.