The National Coffee Cupping Competition has begun in Lae with farmers from more than 100 cooperatives seeing the process of coffee tasting and grading first hand.
Coffee samples from various parts of the country were put through vigorous tests with the final results expected to open up avenues for farmers into international markets.
The competition has also allowed farmers to see the need to maintain quality and consistency.
The cupping experts were hard at work this morning. A long process of tasting and smelling the aroma of coffee from various parts of Papua New Guinea will eventually end with the announcement of a winner, who will almost be guaranteed international recognition and access to foreign markets.
For nearly all the farmers who have come to Lae for the National Coffee Cupping competition, this is an experience of a lifetime.
For the first time, many are seeing for themselves how important their coffee is to international tasters and importers.
For Jiwaka coffee farmer Phillip Sim, the experience has changed his perspective on coffee farming.
“Quantity is important, but quality must also be given the same importance. I am going to tell my farmers to maintain quality,” he said.
Nearly all the farmers come from some of the most inaccessible parts of Papua New Guinea. Each has come with a story that makes the coffee story all the more worth it when it hits the international market.
Dr. Nelson Simbiken, head of the Coffee Industry Corporation’s (CIC) research into integrated farming systems says what many people don’t realise is that Papua New Guinean coffee is much sought after because of its aroma and taste and overseas buyers are willing to pay a higher price for it.
“The idea has been to bring the farmers closer to the buyers. Many don’t know where their coffee ends up,” Dr. Simbiken said.
There are increased opportunities that are becoming available. While Papua New Guineans are coffee growers, coffee drinking isn’t as popular as many would think.
The CIC is encouraging the buying of local coffee by Papua New Guineans so that the large domestic market is captured.