Papua New Guinea’s Carpenter Estates Group: Extraordinary Coffees from a Unique Region

primitive house, gardens

In a world that is rapidly losing all of its wild places, Papua New Guinea’s Highlands region is still teeming with life of all forms as well as fascinatingly unique traditional cultures. Unimaginable diversity, both biological and cultural, is the overwhelming first impression that a new visitor will receive. Chaos may be a close second. But so it goes in places where the majority of people still live very close to the land – as every ecologist knows, systems with extreme diversity have a way of balancing themselves out quite perfectly, but they look a mess!

The Carpenter Estates group comprises 3 allied estates with a combined total of over 900 hectares in production, making them the largest coffee operation in the country. The 3 Carpenter Estates together present one of only a few examples in PNG which are producing premium coffees in a controlled, reliable, and professional way. To get a sense of the free-for-all style of the majority of PNG coffee harvesting and processing, check out this complementary article about the “Wild West of coffee production.”


Sigri Estate, along with Bunum Wo and Kindbng,
make up the Carpenter Estates Group

Carpenter Estates have a very different approach, one that may sound more familiar to those who like to support fair trade and socially responsible coffee production. Coffee estates all over the world often organize themselves as integrated villages, providing workers with structure and services as well as housing. Each of the Carpenter Estates – Sigri, Bunum Wo, and Kindeng – takes care of the needs of its workers fully, providing a modest but distinctively modern lifestyle almost totally independent from the outside world. This is especially significant in PNG, where roads, electricity, and clean water are still rare privileges. Inside the gated compounds of the Carpenter Estates, residents have access to high-quality housing, communal markets, farms for produce and livestock, schools, doctors, and other social services which are partly self-organized, partly guided and funded by estate managers.

Carpenter Estates also strive to improve the sustainability of their operations by conserving water and encouraging bird habitat. In addition to coffee trees, they carefully manage the forests by inter-planting two types of native shade trees which promote very even ripening of coffee cherries while also providing habitat for over 90 bird species.

For Sigri, Bunum Wo, and Kindeng beans, search our coffee list for “Papua New Guinea”


A view of Sigri Estate schoolhouse

All of the Carpenter Estates are nearby one another in the Wahgi Valley, which is one of only 3 places in the world where the finicky Blue Mountain cultivar can grow. The Kimel Estate (whose coffees we also carry) is a close neighbor.

The Highlands in the center of PNG are most definitely coffee country; it looks like every activity and infrastructure is directed primarily toward growing, harvesting, processing, and transporting coffee. The Highlands contain one significant city – Mount Hagen – which is the center of the coffee trade. Upon venturing out of the city, almost every sign of government or “civilization” in general quickly disappears. Electricity and running water are inconsistent; many get their water from rain collection. Roads are very poorly maintained, but sometimes kids fill the huge holes with rocks, and then collect change from grateful motorists. Adults work on the roads too, in the form of independent self-organized work crews; they typically maintain a short stretch of the road through their village and then demand tolls in return. Many villages have rudimentary flea market areas, but “businesses” as we think of them are non-existent; commerce is simply not a significant part of villagers’ daily lives. The coffee estates are an exception to the normal way of life, which still revolves around tribal villages and remains very isolated from the rest of the world.

In contrast to the small subsistence villages around them, each of the Carpenter Estates is home to thousands of people, full-time workers as well as some who participate only in the peak season (about 4000 total workers in peak season), plus all of their families. All of these residents have access to the social services of the estate, making it very appealing to any locals who may be longing for a different way of life.




Steep mountains create many micro-climates, weather and soil may change dramatically from one field to the next, and intimate knowledge of the land is vital to premium coffee production. At Carpenter Estates, workers whose families have been right there for many generations are capable of profound understanding and close relationship with the land and all plants that grow there. Jon observed that the overseers seemed to know personally every single coffee tree on the farm, and had an awareness of the individual needs of each, even though there are many thousands of trees in their care! They understand the particular soils in each corner of the mountainous landscape, the differences between the various strains of coffee in each plot, and exacting details of the care needed to improve the quality of the beans on each and every plant. This is knowledge passed down through generations, and creates a connection to place which is very meaningful (and very different than the perspectives held by most of us in the West).

Within each estate is a microcosm of overall PNG society. There are 3 main tribes that have claim to these lands: the Huli, Gogodala, and Meldpa. For millennia, their relationships to each other have been trying, sometimes violent and rarely commingled. This is typical of PNG’s 1000+ diverse cultures, and is fairly normal in traditional tribal societies in general. For Westerners, it may be easier to think of each tribe as more-or-less a village. Everyone is settled together in one place, sharing laws, language, spiritual beliefs, and agricultural practices. Neighboring settlements may contain different tribes with very different laws, languages, and practices, and these differences are still acutely felt when members of different tribes work together. On the Carpenter Estates, there are essentially 3 mini-villages to accommodate each of the tribes, but services like school and market are shared by all. In the fields, crews are made up of members of all 3 tribes, and they find ways to work together effectively, but split into their separate groups at the end of the day.

The special needs of these unique cultures do present challenges to efficiently running the estates, but managers have organized the workflow skillfully, and their extremely fastidious quality control coupled with expert processing proves that they have learned how to do it right. Each estate has independent fully functioning coffee production facilities – nursery, expert botanists, wet mill and drying patios. The one exception is that the 3 estates share a dry mill (used for final grading, sorting, and bagging of beans) for the sake of efficiency.




The mills on the estates have a very effective streamlined process that is running 365 days a year due to PNG’s perfect climate. Freshly harvested beans first enter the “wet milling” stage that sorts out the obviously bad beans and any sticks or debris, then the fruit is stripped off and clean beans soak in spring water for 12-36 hours to loosen any remaining fruit. Fancy pressure washers are used to fully wash the beans, and then they dry on patios until they reach the ideal 12% moisture, and finally go through “dry milling” to remove parchment and to be sorted by size. An extra step that is uncommon in other countries is to employ a large staff of real people (not automated machines) to closely inspect everything and pick out any remaining defected beans. This very precisely-controlled process leads to coffees that are clean, consistent, and far superior to many other coffees coming out of PNG.

The current owners are not the original founding family, as is often the case on well-established estates, but many of the managers have been born and raised in PNG (though they are of European/Australian descent) and they see their work as uplifting and benefiting the land and the people who live there. Not only are they creating sustainable agricultural practices with premium shade-grown coffee trees intermingled with native cloud forest species, but also running an enterprise that effectively increases access to the most beneficial aspects of modernization while still allowing locals to retain their traditional ways as they see fit.


Jon made many friends at the Carpenter Estates!

Workers at the Carpenter Estates are proud to be a part of a thriving business as well as intimately connected with their lands. They were born on these lands, and they will die there just like countless generations of ancestors. On the other hand, the estates provide structure, security, income and material improvements like electricity and clean water, making for a much higher standard of living than in surrounding villages. For many of the workers, access to sanitation, health care, and education for their children are dreams come true. Although they still maintain an ancient connection to the land, they are very grateful for the prosperity and comforts that come with modern technology (even if their lives may appear impoverished and challenging from the perspective of a US citizen).

The secret to PNG coffee is the people who produce it. On the Carpenter Estates, ancient agricultural heritage and intimate connection to land and all the plants on it makes for exceptionally attentive growing, harvesting, and processing, and ultimately produces some of the best coffees on the market.

For Sigri, Bunum Wo, and Kindeng beans, search our coffee list for “Papua New Guinea”


SEE OUR FULL COFFEE LIST




Papua New Guinea – The Wild West of Coffee Production

security guards, bow and arrow

Papua New Guinea is a fascinating region, even for those who are not interested in coffees – rich history, unique cultures, unparalleled biodiversity, and isolation from world markets have made this young nation truly unique. Nowhere else on earth will we find the same combination of ancient traditional life-ways with the chaos and opportunity brought by rapid modernization.

For coffee fans, mysterious PNG is even more enchanting due to its offerings of many uncommon and delicious beans. In 2017, Jon made a trip to PNG to visit some of our favorite estates and learn about the challenges and benefits that come with their unusual approach. He met lots of lovely kind people and was surprised by huge differences in culture and agriculture.

In brief, a lush tropical climate combined with high mountain ranges encourage an enormous diversity of “micro-climates” and create a land with unparalleled cultural and biological diversity. The Highlands region is perfectly placed to provide the ideal conditions for growing coffee. But the complex and peculiar sociopolitical situation in PNG makes effective, profitable coffee farming very challenging. Life is so very different than what we know in the West that it requires a lot of explaining to really accurately paint a picture of it – this article will highlight just a few of the most notable characteristics of the “Wild West of coffee production.”

For PNG beans like Sigri, Bunum Wo, Kindeng, Kimel, Kunjin, and/or Siane Chimbu, search our coffee list for “Papua New Guinea”


These houses (Sigri Estate) are much nicer than the
accommodations of many Papuans

Papua New Guinea was, until 1975, a neglected colony controlled by Australia. The entire island (which is now half PNG, half Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua) was a battleground for European colonial powers in the 19th century, until 1905 when the Brits kicked out other European settlers and turned over control of the territory to the Commonwealth of Australia. It was also the site of intense conflict between Japanese and Australian troops during World War II. But preceding and outlasting these colonial histories are the indigenous peoples who have inhabited the island for millennia – their ancestors were some of the first humans to journey out of Africa, and their cultures are some of the most ancient in the whole world.

With the backing of the UN, Papuans appealed for and gained independence in 1975, but it remains a part of the British Commonwealth system and is heavily dependent on Australian aid money for industrial development and public services. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s uprisings and civil war plagued Papuans as they struggled to find their place in the world.

Today, although traditional practices of head-hunting and ritual cannibalism have virtually disappeared, other forms of violence remain – PNG ranks very low on indexes of human rights and violence against women, and vigilante murders of “sorcerers” are not uncommon. Public education is woefully inadequate and illiteracy rates are extremely high.

On the other hand, PNG is unequaled in beautiful dense diversity, with over 1000 distinct cultures speaking over 800 languages. Many of these communities still practice traditional ways that are rarely seen anywhere else on earth. It is considered a “megadiverse” region because of the incredible numbers of unique endemic species. Wild food grows everywhere; banana trees sprout up like weeds.

It is also abundant in many natural resources, and exports of raw materials (gold, copper, petroleum, palm oil, tuna, etc) make up the majority of the economy. This fact in itself has led to many of the difficulties that Papuans face, as almost all of the corporations engaged in extraction are of foreign origin and do not seem to care much about their impacts; scientists predict that well over half of PNG’s rainforests will be destroyed by 2025.

One way in which Papuans have attempted to alter the legacy of colonization is to establish a system of “customary land title.” Only a tiny fraction of the land is held by private property owners; about 97% of the country is considered to belong to the indigenous inhabitants, and passed on to future generations by their traditional methods. This interesting concept can lead to big challenges; there are constant and unending arguments over who has the primary rights to any given piece of land. And as you might imagine, denying the right to private property makes it pretty tricky to run a coffee estate!


The Parliament is one of the fanciest buildings in
Port Moresby

Today, even the most impoverished developing nations have at least a few modern-looking cities. Papua New Guinea has just one, the capitol Port Moresby, pop. 300,000. Port Moresby has one shopping mall, one movie theater, and a handful of expensive hotels catering to tourists. All of these have been built in the last 10 years, giving a sense of how extremely isolated PNG has been. The city has well-maintained roads and some tall buildings, but is conspicuously non-Western in appearance; everything is locked down and gated, most houses and buildings are surrounded by tall walls, and security guards search cars and send pedestrians through metal detectors just to get into an ordinary restaurant. Police are notoriously corrupt and appear to spend most of their time harassing people at random in hopes of extorting bribes.

With the exception of a few foreigners, nearly everyone who lives in Port Moresby has left traditional village life to seek economic opportunity, most of them walking for many days just to get there, and only able to visit home once or twice per year. Most of these folks feel blessed to have clean water and electricity, amenities almost unheard of as recently as the ’70s, even though their lives may appear very hard-scrabble and destitute by Western standards. Jon observed that the mall and the movie theater are extremely popular – hundreds of people go there just to hang out and watch the hustle and bustle, even though they do not have enough money to purchase anything.

Rural PNG is another story entirely. Just getting to any location other than Port Moresby is a hefty challenge, because roads are incomplete and very poorly constructed. There are a couple of major highways connecting Port Moresby to other nearby economic centers, but beyond that it is typical to find roads that just end suddenly or disappear into enormous potholes. Adventurous travelers may find success traversing in a 4×4 truck, but they won’t get anywhere quickly! Most tourists who want to visit other areas do so in chartered bush planes. About 85% of Papuans live in tribal villages and practice traditional subsistence agriculture. They walk anywhere they need to go, and most of the time they have no incentives to travel outside of their familiar territory, especially given the potential for violence from other tribes with ancient rivalries.




Most of the premium coffee coming from PNG originates in the Highlands region, a mountainous spine stretching the length of the island. The Highlands are astoundingly abundant, covered in tropical cloud forests and relatively dense human populations.

A foreign visitor may be surprised and disturbed to see that nearly all of the trucks (no cars can handle the Highlands “roads”) are customized with thick steel bars welded across every window, sometimes even the windshield. But locals will reassure them that it is really not that bad – petty crimes and opportunistic thefts are just an accepted part of daily life in impoverished places, and relatively minor security precautions will discourage most anyone with devious intents.

Traditional village life is easy to witness in the Highlands; the main highway out of the city of Mount Hagen is dotted with clusters of humble houses and tiny local restaurants and pubs. Areas with more dense populations may have ramshackle flea markets, but stores as we think of them are non-existent. Most of the vendors have tiny rustic fruit and vegetable stands, plus a few racks of cheap clothes made in China hanging out in the sun. There are very few other industrial products beyond the most essential tools. Often, locals gather along the roadside and get great entertainment from watching traffic puttering by. For some, the one road snaking through their village may be their only exposure to the outside world. In fact, PNG is known to have numerous “uncontacted peoples” and there are still many settlements that have no roads whatsoever.

The climate in the Highlands is enviable, about 70-80° F every day, all year round. Proximity to the equator ensures consistent warmth, while the altitude keeps it from getting too hot. Seasonal concepts like spring, summer, autumn, and winter have no place in PNG; it is just Dry or Rainy. For those unfamiliar with tropical weather patterns, this can be hard to imagine. Basically, between November-March it rains every day, and the rest of the year it is sunny every day. We can’t even imagine weather conditions more different than what we get here in Wisconsin!

The combination of perfect temperatures and perfect altitudes create conditions in which coffee trees have an unbroken endless growing season, and they yield flowers, fruits and beans 365 days a year!




Almost all PNG coffees undergo standard washed processing, making them significantly different than neighboring Indonesian coffees, which use a special local processing method. PNG fans rave about their coffees’ sweetness, often describing them as bright, syrupy or “full-bodied,” with notes of honey, melon, or cocoa. 

For PNG beans like Sigri, Bunum Wo, Kindeng, Kimel, Kunjin, and/or Siane Chimbu, search our coffee list for “Papua New Guinea”

On the other hand, many PNG coffees may be unpredictable or a little rough. This is because almost all of them are processed and bagged in aggregate mills, which do not engage in cultivation at all. At one point, there were a number of coffee estates in the Highlands, but most lost their property rights when Papuans gained independence and insisted on reducing foreign control of their lands. When the “customary land title” policy was implemented, many European settlers just gave up and returned to their motherlands – but the coffee trees remained.

So now, most coffee harvesting is done by enterprising individuals who wander the Highlands rainforests and pick any ripe coffee cherries that they may find. Estate owners complain that they must constantly defend their crops from thieves who sneak in late at night and cart off as much as they can carry.




Due to lack of expertise, many of these “coffee foragers” pick far too many under- or over-ripe beans, just grabbing whatever they come across until their pick-up truck is overflowing. Truckloads of freshly picked cherries line up outside of aggregate mills every single day, and foragers are paid pennies per pound. This is justified by saying that the quality is low and that the mill workers are forced to spend countless hours screening out under- or over-ripe cherries, but we can’t help but wonder… if the mills paid people better, maybe they would try harder to do a good job?

Regardless, at the end of the day, coffees coming out of these aggregate mills are very mixed up – many different varieties coming from many different locations – and they can be inconsistent and sometimes intense, edgy. For some, this is part of what makes PNG coffees exciting, but for others it is unappealing.

The good news for our coffee connoisseurs is that there are a handful of estates which have managed to hold onto control of their lands, and these professional operations are practicing stringent quality-control measures and producing reliably outstanding beans that we love.

Supervised by expert coffee producers, the mills on the professional estates have a very effective streamlined process, beginning with the “wet milling” stage that sorts out the obviously bad beans and any sticks or debris. Then the fruit is stripped off and clean beans soak in spring water for 12-36 hours to loosen any remaining fruit. Fancy pressure washers are used to fully wash the beans more quickly and efficiently than the channel systems that are used by most processors. After this, beans dry on patios until they reach the ideal 12% moisture, then go through “dry milling” to remove parchment and to be sorted by size. A final step that is uncommon in other countries is to employ a large staff of real people (not automated machines) to closely inspect everything and pick out any remaining defected beans. This very precisely-controlled process leads to coffees that are clean, consistent, and far superior to many other coffees coming out of PNG.




One of the farms with which we work closely is called Kimel Estate. In the heart of the Wahgi Valley (one of only 3 locations where the sensitive Blue Mountain cultivar can grow), this smaller estate is noteworthy for its indigenous ownership – it was purchased from the Australian founders by a coalition of local tribes in 1979 – and its pursuit of sustainability through recycling of wash water and composting fruit/pulp into fertilizer.

The Carpenter Estates Group oversees three different farms – Sigri, Bunum Wo, and Kindeng – also located nearby in the Wahgi Valley. We have another article highlighting everything that we love about this awesome exceptional coffee producer.

We highly encourage our customers to try premium Papua New Guinea coffees. From megadiverse rainforest origins to sweet and sparkly cup profile, PNG coffees are unique and exciting, and the “Wild West of coffee production” may be the next frontier for intriguing and delicious boutique beans.

For PNG beans like Sigri, Bunum Wo, Kindeng, Kimel, Kunjin, and/or Siane Chimbu, search our coffee list for “Papua New Guinea”


SEE OUR FULL COFFEE LIST




RWANDA MISOZI FT ABAKUNDAKAWA PEABERRY 14+

A tasty new crop (2018/19) Rwanda at a steal of a price. An upfront warning, this is a nice screen of coffee (few to no broken beans) but is a small screen. It will still work in any home roaster but you may want to shake your Behmor drums before putting them into the machine and keep an eye on your Nesco while roasting to make sure they don’t jam the auger.

Abakundakawa, or “those who love coffee,” is a cooperative founded in 1999 in the Northern provinces of Rwanda. The cooperative owns two central washing stations, with a third washing station planned to open in 2018. Abakundakawa is part of the larger Misozi group, which helps with processing and certification paperwork. The cooperative invests heavily in programs and infrastructure for its members, including a new community center for some of the farmers furthest from the main mills. The cooperative is also involved in dairy production, giving a calf to different member whenever a cow gives birth. The coffee that they produce is washed, fermented for 36 hours, hand sorted, and dried on raised beds. The pulp is distributed back to farmers for use as compost, and final milling is done in Kigali before export.

Tasting Notes: 
Nice and chocolaty with a bit of fresh acidity. A bit floral upfront especially at the lighter roasts. Nice lemony citrus tones balanced with a smooth and rich chocolaty factor. A little hint of malty caramel can be found. A bit more delicate of a cup than most Africans, doesn’t hit you over the head with monster herbal or bakers chocolate, quite smooth, clean and easy to drink. Works for darker roasts as well, bigger bodied and brings some of those rougher African bakers chocolate notes when into 2nd crack along with some smokiness.

Roasting Notes: 
A nice easy coffee to roast and good from light to dark. Recommend a light/medium roast on it as long as you are okay with some acidity (not over the top). If you dislike acidity, make sure to get it close to 2nd crack if not into it, drops the acidity level to almost non-existent.

RWANDA MISOZI FT ABAKUNDAKAWA PEABERRY

SEE OUR FULL COFFEE LIST!

RWANDA FTO RFA DUKUNDE KAWA MUSASA – MBLIMA

New 2018/19 Crop!

Rwanda FTO Dukunde Kawa Musasa Mblima is sourced from family owned farms organized around the Musasa mill located near a gorilla habitat in the Gakenke district of Rwanda. Farm plots are so small that measurements are based on the numbers of trees, not area of land.

Farmers who process their coffee at the Musasa mill are members of the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative, which started in 2000 with enough funds to build one wet mill. In the following years, the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative has built three more wet mills and completed construction of their own dry mill. More than 80 percent of the cooperative workforce is women, and producer-members have used earnings to improve their standards of living with investments in livestock, access to healthcare, and programs to protect the environment.

Tasting Notes:
Medium bodied and clean; very chocolaty cup profile with some nice citrus floral overtones. Lighter roasts will have strong citrus and floral aspects, a bit too much for most unless you love a sizzling cup. Medium roasts get very balanced, hints of floral and citrus fruit with a smooth and rich chocolaty undertone. Dark roasts get much fuller bodied with stronger bakers chocolate and smoke. If you go between a city and full city roast, one gets a nice brown sugar like tone while the cup is super hot, as it cools the chocolate note pops out above the citrus tones.

Roasting Notes:
Good at almost any roast, light roasts will be higher acidity so err darker rather than lighter if you do not like a bright cup. When roasting Africans (this guy included) they will look a shade darker than they are, a sheen gets on the surface at a nice medium roast.


Rwanda FTO Dukunde Kawa Musasa Mblima

Rwanda FTO Dukunde Kawa Musasa Mblima

SEE OUR FULL COFFEE LIST!

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – KIMEL ESTATE PB

Before we found some personal friends in Papua New Guinea, this is the coffee we used to rely on. Awesome folks even though at the time we had never met them. One of the few Estate produced coffees (a bit smaller than Carpenter) and located just a couple miles down the road.

A couple years back times were rough with Kimel, PNG is a tribal land and not all the tribes get along all the time. To have an estate in PNG means you have to have an open environment between the tribes living/working on or near the estate. Unfortunately Kimel had a rough couple of years due to some tribal conflicts and coffee production and quality wavered pretty good. This is when we started working direct with Carpenter Estates and found some absolute gems of beans. When I got this years Kimel AA sample though some friends, we couldn’t help but to pick it up. Great screen, super clean cup profile. A bit milder and sweeter than last years Sigri. Plus it got here earlier, our Carpenter Estate beans are still a week or two away.

Tasting Notes: 
Medium bodied, low acidity and a clean cup. Perfect example of what a premium PNG should taste like. Not super jazzy but great prep and carries the tastes PNG fans are looking for. Smooth chocolate, bigger body and low acidity. Hard not to enjoy this cup. Lighter roasts are milder and sweeter, not quite the heft of the medium to dark roasts but tasty. Medium roasts bring out a bigger body and stronger chocolaty tones, turns a bit more semi-sweet as one gets real close to 2nd crack. Dark roasts get smoky and thicker with a little bitter edge to it.

Roasting Notes:
Although traditionally PNG coffees are taken a little darker, go a shade lighter that you think. We thought a city + roast was wonderful. Smooth, sweet and more down the milk chocolate alley. Maybe a little hint of acidity lighter but with a 2-3 day setup, it will be gone. Darker roasts work great with this bean but turn it stronger, loses its delicate tones and shows more Indo style tones into 2nd crack.


Not my best picture but I spent a lovely evening at the Mt Hagen Club talking with Brian (Kimel Estate Manager) about our mutual passion for coffee.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – CARPENTER ESTATES – BUNUM WO KULA PB

This season we went with what they call Kula processing. Kula processing means only dried on raised drying beds and double screened via color sorter and double hand picking. Basically means the best of the best from Carpenter Estates.

Bunum Wo was the first section of Carpenter Estates that I went to visit. Very impressive wet mill and a very crazy cherry picking/gathering system.

One of the more impressive nurseries was located on Bunum Wo and they seemed to be playing around with more strain diversity than the others. Which tends to come out in the cup with a bit more depth to the darker tones.|

Tasting Notes:
Similar to the Sigri beans in the fact it is pretty low acidity, very clean in its cup profile. Very smooth darker toned spice notes. Most would call it a pretty sweet chocolaty cup with a bit of spice. Very smooth cupping this year with no herbal tones or earthyness. Medium bodied with a sweeter edge, a cup almost anyone would enjoy.

Roasting Notes:
Very easy to roast – large screen flat beans that roast very even. Being fresh as can be they can take a little longer to get to 1st crack. Although some will like it, I would avoid the light roast points, one can get some underdeveloped chocolaty notes.

The quick story of Papua New Guinea Sigri (one can clear up a lot of information when you get on the ground somewhere):

What I and many others thought was Sigri Estate is actually Carpenter Estates – Sigri being only one of the areas of the estate (easily the most famous). The other two are Bunum Wo and Kindbng (sounds like Kin ding). Each of the three produces a different cup quality; PNG being full of microclimates really puts a different spin on each section. Each one is like its own village situated right next to each other, with separate wet mills, drying fields, nurseries, living quarters, and schools for each of the three sections. They do share a couple facilities (dry mill, bagging, trucking to port) and many staff.

Each of the three sections of Carpenter Estates has separate fields for different strains and top-notch agronomists to grow the best beans. Most of these folks have coffee in their blood. Being a part of the coffee here is a birthright for them (seen as a cradle to the grave philosophy). Great pride all around.

See Our Full Coffee List!

KENYA NYERI OTHAYA KAMOINI PB

A great super fresh arrival! This could be the one you Kenyan fans have been waiting for. Bright and clean as can be, almost a little teeth chattering at those light roast points.

These beans are from family owned farms located on the southeastern slopes of the Aberdares mountain ranges in Nyeri County, Kenya.  The Kamoini Factory was founded in 1987. Farmers deliver their harvested cherry to be processed at the Kamoini Factory (wet mill), which is managed by the Othaya Farmers Co-operative Society.  Cooperative members generally cultivate around 250 coffee trees on half-acre plots intercropped with Bananas, Grevillea, and Macadamia trees.

Tasting Notes: 
Very dependent on roast a super fun one to play around with. Hard to make low acidity so make sure you like at least a medium acidity cup if you buy this guy. Light roasts will be very lemony citrus and floral balanced with just a little hint of a chocolate tone (green tea spice accent) with great aromatics that add some soft fruit tones. Medium roasts get a little more balanced but still strong on the floral front end, introduces a little soft fruit note not just in the aromatics. Dark roasts mute up a lot of acidity but you will still notice some, greatly strengthens the chocolate tea spice note and becomes much more bittersweet.

Roasting Notes: 
Hard to know what one would like best with this cup but when first drinking this pretty extreme Kenyan, I would suggest taking it a little closer to 2nd crack than first, a bit more balanced. Go lighter if you want more floral, darker if more chocolaty body.

KENYA NYERI OTHAYA KAMOINI PB

See Our Full Coffee List Here!

KENYA KIAMBU FAIRVIEW ESTATE AB

Usually Kenyan coffee lose some of their track-ability through the mill aggregation model. This cup is cool for its an estate produced offering, where is came from and the folks behind it are well known.

Kenya Kiambu Fairview Estate AB Grainpro is sourced from the Fairview estate located in Kiambu County, Kenya. Fairview has its own mill where cherry selection, depulping, fermentation, washing, and drying are meticulously executed. The estate has 100 acres of coffee production and employs more than 400 people during the harvest. Fairview is also an active contributor to the local primary school.

Tasting Notes:
No missing this cup is a Kenyan though, decently strong acidity upfront especially on the lighter roast side; comes off pretty buzzy and citric with a little soft fruit.  Strong bakers chocolate with equally as strong herbal spice notes balance out the acidity nicely. If you want to shoot for a more acidic bright cup, roast it a bit lighter, looking for more of the robust spice and chocolaty tones, take it a bit darker.

Roasting Notes:
From light to dark a tasty cup. Extreme roasts (light or dark) will cause extreme flavor profiles. Lighter is very acidic, darker is very bakers chocolaty and full bodied. Shoot somewhere in the middle to start and take it lighter or darker for personal taste preference.


Kenya Kiambu Fairview Estate AB

See Our Full Coffee List!

INDONESIAN SUMATRA TAKENGON MANDHELING GRADE 1

Sumatra Takengon Grade 1  is sourced from the Jagong Mill and surrounding family-owned farms located in the Takengon and Atu Lintang coffee region of Aceh province on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Irham Junus owns and operates the Jagong Mill with his son, Andi and daughter, Ina. The Junus family has focused on meticulous ripe cherry selection resulting in something truly unique in Sumatra. The Junus family also has full control of the processing and milling right up to the final export stage, avoiding the long and convoluted supply lines that can compromise Sumatran quality.

Tasting Notes: 
A very nice fresh crop arrival. Full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel, low acidity and spot on tastes from a traditional Mandheling Sumatra; pete moss, smoky, chocolaty and strong. A clean enough cup to get a decent medium roast, gives a smoother mouthfeel and has a bit of sweetness upfront, darker roasts will turn thicker but also edgier and promote the smokier side of the profile.

Roasting Notes: 
As with most Sumatra coffees, the processing promotes a couple different shades in the roaster. It is normal to see some beans lighter than others. Make sure if shooting for the medium roasts, that you judge it from the lighter looking beans, important to get them all through first crack. When roasting darker, judge it by the darker looking beans for if they get too dark or burn, gets a little ashy tone in the cup.

Indonesian Sumatra

See Our Full Coffee List!

GUATEMALAN FRAIJANES PALO ALTO AZUL

Guatemala Fraijanes Palo Alto Azul is from Finca Agua Tibia, a farm managed by Industrias Agrícolas Centro Americanas.  Finca Agua Tibia is located in the municipality of Fraijanes within the department of Guatemala, Guatemala.  

Finca Agua Tibia was established more than 150 years ago by Franciscan monks and has been producing coffee since 1940. Coffee processing continues to be steeped in tradition and has not been modernized. Seventy-five percent of Finca Agua Tibia is preserved forest. There is also an ornamental nursery, other crops and an award-winning dairy farm.

Tasting Notes: 
This cup falls about half way between an Antigua and Huehue. Lighter roasts show a more Antigua style cup profile, a little hint of floral with some nice and smooth chocolaty notes, a little thinner and sweeter. As one pushes the roast a bit further it develops into more of a malty tone and the acidity falls off, still a sweeter edged coffee up until 2nd crack, which turns it a bit stronger and smokier, much dryer darker toned complexity. 

Roasting Notes: 
A nice medium roast is the way to go; at least to start. Very balanced and a great everyday drinker. Lighter roast are equally as tasty with this being a clean cup but a little bite from the acidity. Darker roasts will be good but much rougher and less delicate.

See Our Full Coffee List!

ETHIOPIAN NATURAL YIRGACHEFFE GR. 1 KOKE CO-OP

The Koke cooperative was established in 1975, and joined The Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) in 2002. It currently has 1,153 member farmers. All of the members grow their coffee on plots of land under 4 hectares. By joining the YCFCU, the KOKE cooperative has benefited from being a part of a larger cooperative and a network of coffee producers. YCFCU has built schools, helped bring electricity to small villages and communities, and built bridges to make transportation safer and easier.

A very exotic and tasty Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

Tasting Notes:
Good body with some very complex darker spice tones. A little lower acidity than the usual Ethiopian and milder on some of the red fruit notes. Lighter roasts will have a little hint of acidity, nice chocolaty factor with some black tea like spice notes, as the cup cools one can see some red fruit in the cup but while piping hot, are overtaken by the classic Yirg spice tones. Medium roasts up to 2nd crack build the chocolaty factor nicely while muting up the acidity. Soft fruit tones comes through in the aftertaste.

Roasting Notes:
A cool cup from light to dark but erroring closer to 2nd crack than first was a good thing in our book. This cup is not all about ferment fruit, this cup is about complex tea like and floral spice which find a balance around a strong medium roast. Nice and clean for a natural, easy to roast.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Koke Coop

See Our Full Listing!

ETHIOPIAN HONEY YIRGACHEFFE GR. 1 KOKE CO-OP

The honey processed Koke is what got us first loving the Koke Co-op. Smack dab in the middle of a natural and washed processed as far a cup tones go.

The Koke cooperative was established in 1975, and joined The Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) in 2002. It currently has 1,153 member farmers. All of the members grow their coffee on plots of land under 4 hectares. By joining the YCFCU, the KOKE cooperative has benefited from being a part of a larger cooperative and a network of coffee producers. YCFCU has built schools, helped bring electricity to small villages and communities, and built bridges to make transportation safer and easier.

A very exotic and tasty Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

Tasting Notes:
Good body with some nice brightness right upfront, a bit floral on first sip quickly fades into a nice red fruit tone, especially as the cup cools. The floral/fruit is nicely balanced with a spicy chocolate tone with a faint hint of classic Yirg herbal tea like tones. If you enjoy a nice washed Ethiopian as well as natural processed, this will be the cup for you – not overly fruity, just a nice accent with great depth to the darker tones.

Roasting Notes:
Definitely a lighter roast coffee – one can take it closer to 2nd crack than 1st but all the jazz and exotic tones will be burned out if you touch 2nd crack with this bean. I liked a quicker roast to a city plus (medium) with a 48 hour setup to smooth out those dark tones a little.

Ethiopian Honey Yirgacheffe

Ethiopian Honey Yirgacheffe

See Our Full Coffee List!

COLOMBIAN RFA ORG. FINCA BUENA VISTA

Finca Buena Vista is owned by Eneil Bayona and is located in the village of Minca. Eneil loves to produce coffee; it’s been in his family as long as he can remember. It hasn’t always been easy though, as he’d gotten discouraged by low coffee prices. Since then, he’s worked hard to make sure his coffee is certified as Organic, which has gotten him a much higher premium that he uses to continually re-invest in production and improvement. Eneil is heavily involved in the region and works with neighboring producers to pilot new planting programs and test new varietals.

Tasting Notes: 
Good body with a pronounced toasted walnut and bakers chocolate undertone. A bit of acidity upfront at lighter roast makes it an interesting cup at almost any roast point. Lighter roast promote a bit of herbal spice between the citrus and chocolaty factor – on the sweeter side. Strong medium to dark roasts mute up almost all of the spice notes (the stronger chocolaty tones cover it up) and the cup becomes big bodied and bakers chocolaty.

Roasting Notes: 
An easy to roast coffee. Avoid light roasts if you do not like acidity. A full city roast really bring forth the bakers chocolate like undertones, a nice medium roast has the best balance but everyone here liked it best close to just touching 2nd crack going after the bigger body and chocolaty factor.

See Our Full Coffe List!

COLOMBIAN PREMIUM HUILA ACEVEDO

This cup is sourced from family-owned farms located in the communities of San Isidro, La Palma ,Las Brisas, El Recreo, and El Silencio in the municipality of Acevedo within the department of Huila, Colombia. The producers collaborate with an export company called Banexport to gain access to technical support for best agricultural practices. Banexport has matched these regional producers (Eduar Perdomo, Robinson Huelgos, Ricardo Mendez, Gustavo Bustos, and Ledesnair Valencia) because of their shared commitment to exquisite coffee processing and loving care for their farms (San Isidro, El Recuerdo, Las Dalias, Villa Sofia and El Altico), which produce complementary profiles.

Tasting Notes: 
A very traditional Huila coffee jazzed up with a hint of acidity upfront. Fuller bodied and on the cleaner side, these beans have quite a toasted walnut base tone that turns pretty chocolaty into the darker roasts. The acidity can be a little strong at the light roast points bringing into play a citrus and floral front end that keeps it a bit on the sweeter side. Darker roasts will be very low acidity but incorporate a much edgier cup profile.

Roasting Notes: 
Easy to roast; a nice even washed processed bean. If you like a little acidity make sure to keep it on the lighter side, if not, make sure to get at least a strong medium roast on it. Works well at the darker spectrum but turns a bit edgy and semi-sweet.

See Our Full List Here!

COLOMBIAN HIGH GROWN DIANA, OMAR & HARBY LOPEZ EL CORTIJO & VENECIA FARMS – CAFE SOCIAL

We found some great new friends in Colombia – the Lopez family. One of family; Omar, is here in our home town and runs a small craft roastery and coffee shop basically on the UW Madison Campus. There farms are in a lesser known more remote region we have never previously pulled coffee from – truly a fantastic cup profile, one can tell upon first sip that this is not your average run of the mill Colombian.

Their coffee is grown in the “Eje Cafetero,” the heart of the coffee regions of Colombia, in the core of the Andes Mountains. This region produces some awesome Arabica coffee. This exceptional, shade grown, single origin coffee is produced by the Lopez siblings on their two family farms: El Cortijo and Venecia.

Diana Lopez  is the owner of the coffee farms; Harby Lopez helps with logistics and transportation in Colombia; and Omar Lopez lives in Madison and runs Cafe Social, the coffeehouse. They all work together to provide an efficient model for direct trade; the most ideal model for coffee farmers but one of the more difficult to achieve. 

Tasting Notes:
A very nice smooth cup of coffee. A hint of a soft fruit tone, a little floral and on the sweeter side. A bit of nutty, chocolaty tones and spice balance the cup out and reminds you this is a stronger profiled Colombian. Fuller bodied, especially into the strong medium to dark roasts.

Roasting Notes:
Versatile roasting coffee, good from light to dark. Shines at the darker roast points; just before to just into 2nd crack. Interesting at lighter roasts but much more front loaded. Very fresh coffee will most likely mellow in a couple months. We air freighted it in from the farm for exceptional freshness.

See Our Full List Here!

BURUNDI BUZIRA-MURUTA WASHED

New 2018/19 crop – after not being able to source some good Burundi coffees last year we finally found two winning lots. Complex as can be, this is a cup that screams African.

Burundi Buzira-Muruta Fully Washed 15+ Lot 31 is sourced from family-owned farms organized around the Coffee Processing Company (CPC), which was established in 2010 by Salum Ramadhan who was born and raised in the Kayanza province, Burundi. Salum operates four washing stations in Kayanza. All four stations reflect Salum’s passion for coffee and his commitment to his community. Lots are meticulously separated and fully traceable to harvest date and washing station. Each lot is classified through a strict protocol that includes hand sorting and floating the cherry. Depulped coffee undergoes a three-part fermentation process, 16 hours of dry fermentation, then another 14 hours of fermentation with water, and then washed and soaked in fresh water for 10 hours.

Salum pays well above the government minimum for cherry and pays farmers extra to sort cherry. He also encourages the farmers to keep and process unused cherry for personal consumption or to sell in the local market. Salum has a nursery program to distribute seedlings to farmers. He has also been paying to build additional classrooms to alleviate problems with overcrowding in the schools.

Tasting Notes:
Medium bodied and chocolaty with some very bright and citrus acidity upfront, it has some very complex herbal/floral/fruit tones balancing the cup.  If you stick on the lighter side, the acidity almost mimics a nice Ethiopian Sidamo with a little tropical fruit note. One of the first semi-sizzling Africans to arrive so far. These tones can either be hidden by roast level or accentuated. Very clean and a bit on the exotic side.

Roasting Notes:
Good from a city plus to as dark as you want to go. Lighter roasting really gives it snappy acidity and stronger fruit notes. The fruit notes are down the grapefruit or orange area, a little on the tart end, not ferment sweet. The chocolaty side of the cup can be seen at a city plus roast but really gets accentuated towards the full city mark and contains a bit of that classic African herbal tea-like note. Darker roasts get strong and a bit bitter but still retain a lot of flavor depth and exoticism. A very fun cup to play around with the roast level.


Burundi Buzira-Muruta Fully Washed

Burundi Buzira-Muruta

SEE OUR FULL COFFEE LIST!

BURUNDI BUZIRA-MURUTA NATURAL

New 2018/19 crop – after not being able to source some good Burundi coffees last year we finally found two winning lots. Complex as can be, this is a cup that screams African.

Burundi Buzira-Muruta Natural is sourced from family-owned farms organized around the Coffee Processing Company (CPC), which was established in 2010 by Salum Ramadhan who was born and raised in the Kayanza province, Burundi. Salum operates four washing stations in Kayanza. All four stations reflect Salum’s passion for coffee and his commitment to his community. Lots are meticulously separated and fully traceable to harvest date and washing station. Each lot is classified through a strict protocol that includes hand sorting and floating the cherry.

Salum pays well above the government minimum for cherry and pays farmers extra to sort cherry. He also encourages the farmers to keep and process unused cherry for personal consumption or to sell in the local market. Salum has a nursery program to distribute seedlings to farmers. He has also been paying to build additional classrooms to alleviate problems with overcrowding in the schools.

Tasting Notes:
This unique cup features pleasant but not over the top red fruit tones balanced with an herbal spice chocolate finish. At a lighter roast this cup is pretty bright, which adds a great depth of flavor. Medium roasts and beyond really mute the acidity and allow the chocolate undertones to break through. Even though at a lighter roast this cup is on the brighter end of the spectrum, it is nowhere near as acidic as the washed processed version. This medium to full bodied cup is smooth with a slight creaminess that leaves you with a wonderfully complex aftertaste.

Roasting Notes:
Unlike the washed processed, this is not a dark roast coffee. All the jazz and cool defined tones will be before 2nd crack. Lighter gave more exotic red fruit and a little hint of acidity, darker (close but not into 2nd crack) gave a much more chocolaty cup profile with just a little hint of red fruit. We all thought the lighter roasts were the best, darker although tasty turned it a little plain and too flat.


Burundi Buzira-Muruta

Burundi Buzira-Muruta

SEE OUR FULL COFFEE LIST HERE!!

BURUNDI A KAYANZA MATRACO- BUSINDE STATION

The Kayanza province is in the northern part of Burundi, close to the border of Rwanda, located at an altitude of more than 1800m. Kayanza has the reputation of being one of the best coffee producing regions in Burundi. It is also known for being the water source of the Nile River.

The Matsitsi Trading Coffee SU (or Matraco) company was founded in 2015 and is owned by Mr. Matsitsi, a coffee producer who oversees Matraco’s three washing stations and over 10,000 trees. Two of these washing stations are in the Kayanza province and one other is under construction in the Muyinga province. The two washing stations in Kayanza are some of the best
around and have won Cup of Excellence awards in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017 competitions. Matraco is focused on fine-tuning its production process while promoting ethical trade and environmental protection.

Tasting Notes: 
A good clean and rich Burundi coffee. A bit lower acidity compared to our other Burundi offerings but nice and chocolaty, a good little hint of a spice note and herbal tones letting you know its an African. Smooth and a bit sweet at a medium roast, much heftier into the darker roast, turning it into a strong and fuller bodied cup. A great African cup and not too acidic, one almost everyone will like.

Roasting Notes: 
Easy to roast, would avoid real light roasts for it will come off pretty sharp and can be a little grassy. Medium roasts were wonderful but not super strong, delicate smooth cup. Darker roasts are where this cup shined, great African tones with a strong bakers chocolate note.

Burundi Green Coffee

SEE OUR FULL COFFEE LIST HERE!

BRAZIL MOGIANA 17/18

Many will like it as a single origin drinker but this can be used as an awesome blend base. Pretty neutral tasting and adopts flavors blended into it easily.

Brazil Mogiana 17/18 is produced by farmers organized around cooperatives in the Mogiana growing region split between the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, Brazil. The Mogiana region is the most renowned of three major Brazilian growing regions. This region has rolling hills and uneven terrain lending to farms that are small to medium in size. As the world’s largest coffee producer, Brazilian lots often come from larger estates that use highly mechanized processing strategies to manage larger volumes. Our current offering is Fine Cup (FC) and Strictly Soft (SS), the highest cup category in the Brazilian coffee grading.

Tasting notes:
The aroma is very nutty and sweet. There was a surprising hint of smoke on the palate. Full bodied and low acidity – this is a traditional tasting Brazil – thick, creamy, nutty and semi-sweet. At the darker roasts a very sweet first taste, almost a little fruity, and then quickly turns darker-toned with a bakers chocolate and slightly toasted walnut flavor. Great blend base for espresso or adding body with darker tones.

Roasting Notes:
Avoid light roasts with it being decently lower acidity, cup comes together at a medium roast and tastes very nice into the darker roasts. For blending, we suggest right at the 2nd crack or darker for neutral taste and good body. For single origin drinking, we would suggest more in the medium roast range for a bit mellower and sweeter cup.

Brazil Mogiana
Brazil Expo
Brazil Mogiana 17/18

SEE OUR FULL COFFEE LIST HERE!

NEW! Berry Mint Black BCT Premium Blend

Berry Mint Black Tea

We are very excited to launch another custom BCT Blend. With a lovely sweet South Indian Nilgiri BOPF black tea and a unique blend of premium fruits and herbs, this versatile tea will appeal to many different tastes.

This unusual mix will surprise you with a big punchy flavor! The fine sweet Nilgiri brings only light astringency and virtually zero bitterness, while a dynamic fruit blend of currant, black currant, lemon peel and hibiscus turn the cup a pretty red color and provide a tart fruit punch note right up front. A little spearmint subtly rounds out the vibrant flavor profile; it may be noticeable only in an effervescent aroma and slightly chilly mouthfeel lingering after other flavors fade.

“BOPF” stands for “Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings.” The “Orange Pekoe” part of the name indicates that this is an above-average quality tea, while the “Broken” and “Fannings” descriptors mean that we have only the smallest pieces left over after the larger pieces (considered higher grade) have been sold. This is still a very yummy tea! but due to lower grading it is available at a discount price. Keep in mind that the small particles cause this tea to extract faster – basically, you get a stronger cup from significantly less leaves. Fortunately, this exceptional Nilgiri is very sweet and does not turn bitter, making it a perfect match for the strong tart fruits and cool herbs in this blend.

We have tested this blend at various steep times, and found that with less or more extraction the flavor profile changes dramatically. Steep for a shorter time (2-3 minutes) to highlight the black tea and spearmint flavors. Steep for a longer time (4-6 minutes) and watch the liquor turn bright red as it further infuses strong sour flavors of hibiscus, currant, and lemon.


Steeping Time: 2-6 minutes

Water Temp: 212 F

Nilgiri “Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings” tea, spearmint, lemon peel, hibiscus, currant, black currant, elderberry, natural and artificial flavorings

Buy Berry Mint Black BCT Premium Blend