During our recent origin trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG), we had the privilege of visiting the Kongo Coffee processing mill. Witnessing their end-to-end processes and efforts first hand, it's safe to say Kongo are producing some of the very best of PNG coffee.

Kongo Coffee purchases from over 100 smallholder farms in the region. They’ve been in business for 30 years, initially starting out as a buyer and eventually becoming an end-to-end processing mill. With 130 employees, from administration to production and transportation, Kongo Coffee is a significant contributor to the local economy and the PNG specialty coffee scene.

Our visit began with a tour of Kongo’s facilities to witness their end-to-end processing mill before visiting the famed Mt Elimbari, which their main export is named after. Kongo Elimbari is the highest-quality coffee processed at the mill and has been developed since 2000, initially designed to cater to the Japanese market's taste for a clean cup profile. The cherries are pulped the same day they are picked, emphasising the importance of freshness in achieving a quality cup of coffee.

Much of PNG specialty coffee is produced on farms more akin to homely gardens than coffee farms in other regions. Our tour of Mt Elimbari allowed us to explore these coffee gardens growing in the mountain’s fertile soils and witness much of the coffee that Kongo purchases for processing.

Day two saw us visit the Kundiawa market, where we witnessed farmers bringing their coffee in parchment, which can weigh up to 60kg, to sell. Many farmers walk for up to 3 hours from their farms to the nearest road, where they can then transport their coffee on a bus to the buying station.

This serious lack of infrastructure has plagued PNG specialty coffee for years. The highest growing-regions that produce exceptional flavour struggle to showcase and sell their coffee – it’s just so difficult to access.

However, Kongo Coffee has worked to not only access and showcase these remote lots, but actively encourage and incentivise farmers to refine their farming practises and improve coffee quality by paying above market prices rates for the best quality coffee.

At the market, all coffee is analysed and priced according to quality, which includes A, B, and Y grades. We were amazed to see the meticulous sorting process, which includes visual sorting before packing.

Day three had us visiting the Jerry Kapka Elementary School, which was founded by Kongo Coffee owner, Jerry, on land next to the coffee processing mill. This school serves 165 students, ages 4-6, from surrounding villages, with the majority of the students' parents being coffee farmers that Jerry purchases from.

We then had a chance to visit the nearby villages where the farmers live. We were able to see their coffee gardens and trees located deep in the valleys – with plenty of shade and removed from harsh elements, its optimal coffee-growing conditions. It can take up to an hour of walking through dense bushes to reach these gardens, which just emphasises the dedication and hard work of these smallholder farmers.

All in all, our visit to Kongo Coffee and the Simbu region was eye-opening and humbling. We witnessed the passion and dedication of the farmers and the positive impact that Kongo Coffee has on the local community. We’re proud to know that the coffee we enjoy at Allpress has a direct connection to the hardworking farmers of Kongo Coffee.