At Allpress Espresso we’ve been sourcing coffee from Kongo Coffee in Papua New Guinea since 2022. This long standing producer relationship is one we are proud of as we support Kongo Coffees in their drive to enrich and empower their local community while being uncompromising in the quality of coffee they produce.

Kongo Coffee proudly and exclusively source from within their local region of Simbu while supporting a number of community based initiatives. Over the years of our partnership we have seen a noticeable increase in their cup quality and, with that, the ability to increase the price paid to the local growers they work with. As his tribe’s leader, Jerry Kapka uses Kongo Coffee as a way to employ, support and give back to his tribespeople.

A brief history of Kongo Coffee

 Kongo Coffee is owned by Jerry Kapka, an ex-high school teacher who, after deciding on a career change, started buying coffee in his village in 1990. After seven years as a sole trader, Jerry founded Kongo Coffee – a coffee factory where he could further process the parchment he was purchasing and, later on in 2000, his own export company. Fast forward to today and Kongo Coffee is now responsible for 8% of Papua New Guinea's total coffee export market.  

Kongo Coffee currently processes and sells around 60,000 bags of coffee per season, with around two thirds of this volume heading to their primary buyer, Hamburg Coffee, in Germany. Relying so much on one company alone can be risky, and so Jerry hopes that visits from direct buyers like Allpress can help increase interest in Kongo and PNG coffees, give stability to purchasing and diversify the buyer portfolio. 

Coffee production at Kongo:

The Kongo Coffee factory is located in Simbu, right on PNG’s main road, at 1850 m.a.s.l. With two mills on site, they are able to process up to 8 tonnes of parchment every hour. Throughout the years a lot of investment in education and technology was done, with the installation of mechanical dryers and optical sorters. This has helped lift Simbu’s reputation as a coffee region: Kongo now sells most of its coffee in the premium and specialty market, with increasingly higher quality coffees, season after season. A stark difference from when Jerry first started trading and Simbu’s coffee was looked down on by other Highlands’ growers.   

Making your way further up the mountain to Kundiawa you’ll find a number of purchasing points set up by Kongo coffee where local growers are able to sell their crop, dropping off anything between 10 and 60 kilos each. Kongo have strict quality standards with purchasing and reject about 50% of deliveries due to poor quality. As the largest purchaser of coffee in the region, and offering the highest prices, Kongo demands excellence and the prices they offer mean they expect only the best quality of local product.  The buying and selling process is efficient, with all parchment being assessed for quality on site, separated into two grades, and payment being agreed on all in one visit.

60% of Kongo’s coffee is sold in the specialty market. The remaining 40% is sold as commodity, but Jerry says, this is due to lack of buyers rather than a lack of quality; adding that he could sell up to 80% of their coffees into the specialty market, given the chance.

Kongo Coffee and community impact

Jerry and Kongo Coffee are very much committed to passing on as much value to the local community as possible. They only buy coffees from Simbu, they only buy coffee in parchment, they pay the highest price per kilo in the region, cash in hand, with an even higher premium for quality, they employ up to 150 local people during peak season, and keep their own pickers employed throughout the year, securing a living wage to every employee. 

Kongo Coffee's community impact expands beyond employment and industry growth. Next to the processing mill you’ll find Jerry Kapka Elementary School – a state funded school, named after Jerry, to highlight his contributions to the community and cement his status as the local tribe leader. Kongo Coffee contributes funds to the school quarterly, with further funding being provided at the end of each school year to host a large celebration for students and their families.  

The school currently consists of two buildings perched on a slope, facing the most beautiful view of Mount Elimbari. They employ 6 teachers and currently have a role of 143 students between 3 and 5 years of age. 

In 2011 Kongo installed free, clean water for the school and local community to use and have a lot of other projects planned for future development and growth of the project. Two primary focuses for the immediate future include building of larger classrooms, with better and more long-lasting foundations as well as the installation of a solar panel system in order to provide renewable energy to power the school. This project is expected to cost up to 80k USD. DR Wakefiled, Allpress Espresso and St. Martins Coffee are all contributing with a premium on top of the price paid per kilo of coffee, so Kongo Coffee can finance their school projects a bit quicker. They have 6k USD saved up so far. 

Kongo Coffee at Allpress

The specialty coffee that is produced in the Simbu region and supplied to us by Kongo Coffee is an integral component of our popular A.R.T. Espresso blend and from time to time we will feature an exceptionally tasty crop in our Single Origin program. In the United Kingdom and Australia alone, we currently purchase around 6 containers a year from Kongo Coffee, with deliveries spread throughout the season, from June through till September or October. This provides us with consistently great coffee year round while giving Kongo coffee stability in their sales and income throughout the year.