Highland Coffee: Organic goodness from Papua New Guinea

Highland Coffee is a bold cup with a rich palate grown by smallholder farmers on the steep mountains of the Highlands in Papua New Guinea.

Here at Clandestino, Papua New Guinea is an origin close to our hearts, not only geographically. Coffee from the Highlands region has been the backbone of our house blend Magneto since 2011 and we are still in love with its notes of nuts, milk chocolate and dry fruits.

We have found some amazing coffees that we're sourcing directly - and to give credit to the farmers who live and grow coffee on the steep mountains of the Highlands, we named this coffee after it.  

The Eastern Highlands Province is a mighty and rugged terrain with peaks of the Kratke and Bismarck Ranges soaring to 3700 masl, abundant river systems Asaro and Lamari flowing into the Purari, and lush tropical rainforest valleys rolling throughout.

This rich ecosystem and fertile climate provide the incredible potential for high-quality coffee. Since its introduction in the late 19th century, coffee has always grown well under careful farm management, with little to no fertilisers required. The greatest challenges stifling the progress have come from the chronic infrastructure shortfalls and economic instability.

Nestled in the heart of Papua New Guinea's rugged Eastern Highlands Province lie two remote villages, Lufa and Okapa, where smallholder farmers rely on coffee as their primary source of income. They
grow as few as 20 trees in gardens amongst multitudes of subsistence crops to feed their families. 

The option for a quick and cheap sale to anyone with the means and transport to a mill discourages them investment in quality systems. The farmers are only slowly realising their harvest’s true potential.

Here is where our amazing partner Maureen Ken comes in. A local businesswoman with a mission to build confidence and long-term relationships with such rural producers, Maureen established Lass Malo Coffee (LMC) together with her husband Ken Dumudi in 2015.

Local led and with the prosperity of the remote smallholder farming community at heart, LMC provides a convenient bridge for producers to sell their coffee at a value-added price.

The impact of paying premiums is significant for both the farmers’ livelihoods and the improvement in quality and consistency across all export grades.

Higher standards demand great care in farm management, harvest and post-harvest practices. Smallholders hand-pick, wash and float cherries to clean and sort perfectly ripe selections. Cherries are hand pulped the same day before going into fermentation tanks for 24-36 hours.

Once fermented, coffee is washed with clean water to remove the mucilage and then moved onto raised beds to dry under shade for 3-4 days.

Dried parchment is transported free of charge by LMC trucks to their new and expanding dry mill facility in Goroka.
Once sorted, the coffee is ready to be packed and transported to the local port and sent to Australia that’s only a few hours away.

Thanks to the vision of Maureen and Ken, the future in this coffee region looks bright.

The partnership ticks all the boxes for us: fair price for farmers, consistent quality in the cup and bringing positive change to the community. Were also stoked that we can support more emerging female exporters such as Maureen.

In 2023, we got to welcome Maureen, Ken and their family in our Noosaville roastery to show them around and chat all things coffee. Another origin trip is due soon! 

Highland Coffee is a blend of the best coffee from the mountains of Papua New Guinea  with notes of rich dark chocolate and toasted walnuts.

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