Flavors of milk chocolate, black walnut, earth and cherry with a creamy body. Balanced with a long finish.
Papua New Guinea AAK Coop | Apo group
Traceable to: Kesewaka Cluster
Contributing farmers: 30 families
Province: Eastern Highlands
Varietals: Blue Mountain & Bourbon
Elevation: 5750 - 6000 feet
Last August was the second time I undertook the marathon journey to visit AAAK, a co-op in Papua New Guinea. PNG is an origin that fascinates me because the location, altitude, and climate are all ideal for specialty coffee production. Even though there’s enormous potential to produce great coffee but even under the best of circumstances the quality that is produced is inconsistent. Two of the larger barriers that need to be dealt with are organizational(language and tribal politics can form huge barriers) and infrastructure(there are many challenges with getting coffee from the farm to a mill in a timely manner and quality often suffers as a result). Another issue that is commonly is getting the younger generation involved in coffee production. Many do not see coffee as a vocation with much upward mobility. Youth often leave rural communities for larger cities and fail to find work making it a loss on both ends. Just thinking of all of this gives me a headache.
While the challenges are daunting I think that AAAK has the right ingredients to be successful.
- Strong management. Brian Kuglame started AAK in 2000 and is still going strong. One of the reasons many coops falter is due to poor leadership.
- Improvements in infrastructure. More wet mills are being built in locations that are closer to clusters. Reducing the amount of time from farm-to-mill increases the overall quality of the crop, as it spends less time on the farm before being processed.
- Improvements for farmers. Apiaries – AAAK will supply hives (with a queen) to farmers with at least 2000 trees to help pollinate plants… also, farmers can sell honey for additional income.
- Docketing system. The nut of this one is to increase transparency in payouts (which will also feed into a merit-based payout system), with a secondary goal being trying to get farmers to save some of what they’re earning. People will, hopefully, see that if better quality coffee is produced more will be received
- Youth Training Center. As I mentioned before the youth are increasingly looking away from coffee production and their communities for their future. While many do move away to bigger cities, most do not find employment when they arrive. The youth training center serves two purposes: it stems the flow of youth leaving the communities and it gives them training that is needed to be successful as farmers.
My take on all of this is that there are some very good things happening with AAAK, and I’m excited to be partnering with them. We’re excited to be bringing in coffee from the Kesewaka cluster this year. Their coffee came in second at a cupping competition I participated in last summer. In addition to the prize they won, we’re also paying an additional quarter per pound premium for their coffee (which goes back to their community). We’ve also contributed to the future of AAAK as we’ve also donated $750 to go towards the construction of the youth training center at Jucuru.
For a more detailed account of last Summer’s trip Ben, from Crop to Cup, did an excellent writeup on their blog. You can read it at: