The coffee bean is actually a seed found inside the red berries of the coffee plant. The coffee seeds are generally raised in sheltered nurseries then transported and planted into the rich PNG soils. Once the trees are established they are pruned short to conserve energy and make harvesting easier for the coffee growers. It takes around five years for a coffee tree to reach full fruit production. The average coffee plant can yield about 2 pounds of green coffee beans per year.
2) Harvesting the Cherries
Production of coffee in PNG is year round, however the main season is during the northern hemisphere summer. This means PNG can offer fresh coffee in the “off-season”. The fruit of a coffee plant is called a coffee cherry and turns a bright red when it is ready to be harvested. In most cases in PNG the cherries are picked off the branch one at a time by hand by workers, the cherries are then collected and transported to the processing area.
3) Processing the Cherries
Once the coffee has been picked the workers must start processing them quickly to prevent fruit spoilage. Coffee farmers in PNG use The Wet Method to remove the pulp from the coffee cherry. They pass the cherries through a pulping machine to separate the pulp from the bean. The beans are then floated through a series of water channels and are organized by weight. The lighter beans float to the top, while the heavier beans sink to the bottom. After separating the beans are transported to water filled fermentation tank where they are kept for 12-48 hours to remove the outer layer of the bean, which slowly dissolves away from the beans. When the fermentation process is finished, the beans are rinsed with more water and are ready for drying.
4) Drying the Beans
The beans must now have the excess water from the wet processing dried out of them before they can be prepared for storage. At this stage the beans are still inside the parchment envelope and are sun-dried by spreading them on drying tables or floors. Workers turn them regularly. Some growers in PNG have diesel generators or furnaces that supply heat to a drying machine, which dries the beans quickly. They are then stored in sacks that help the beans retain moisture over time until they are ready to be roasted or exported.
5) Milling the Beans
Before the beans are exported they are put through a process to remove the parchment layer from the beans. The beans are then graded and sorted by hand and are reviewed for colour flaws and other imperfections.
6) Exporting the Beans
The milled beans are now referred to as green coffee and are loaded onto ships to send around the world. PNG currently exports around 1 Million Sacks (60kg each) per year. Tasting, roasting and grinding takes places in coffee roasteries around the world using the beans from PNG.