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  • PRODUCERS: Nichol Colbran - Colbran CoffeeLands in partnership with about 200 producers around the village of Norikori

  • 1700-1900 MASL

The Norikori village is about 6 kilometers to the east of the well known Colbran family estate in the Eastern Highlands. About 200 coffee farmers from this village are delivering coffee cherries from their small farms to the Colbran's washing station for processing. Once received, the cherry is extensively sorted for ripeness and processed in exactly the same way as coffees from their own estates are processed. Over the years the Colbrans have established a fully traceable system for the deliveries from growers around them and individual lots are kept separate and built into unique offerings.

In late 1950's early 1960's, Ben and Norma Colbran were living in Invercargill New Zealand, one of the southernmost cities in the world. Yearning to move to a tropical climate, Ben and Norma applied to live in Uganda and Papua New Guinea. The government of Papua New Guinea was the first to approve their application, and the family relocated to the area of Aiyura in the Eastern Highlands.

In Aiyura, Ben bought land from a Papua New Guinea native named Taro. On the land they purchased, the Colbrans originally planted traditional food crops that would often be sold in the port city of Lae. In 1965, the Papua New Guinea government was highly promoting the growing of coffee, and they decided to plant coffee. The Estate they established, named Baroida, was considered to be one of the first coffee farms in this area of the Eastern Highlands. Their estate is also how many small-holder farmers in the area originally were able to get seed for their own small coffee farms.

While growing coffee was successful for the Colbrans, in 1979 Ben and Norma decided to sell the estate. However, their son Nichol Colbran, was left in charge to manage the operation. Nichol Colbran managed the estate from 1979 to 1991, when he left to work in the Western Highlands. Only six years later, in 1997, Nichol bought back the estate after it had fallen into heavy disrepair. It took years to get the estate and infrastructure back to good running order, but getting it back to "normal" was not the only plan. Nichol, now with his son Chris Colbran, expanded the operation. In the early 2000's they worked closer with small-holder farmers around the estate and set up a highly organized and traceable purchasing system for coffee cherries and parchment coffee. At times Chris Colbran went as far as to fly into remote villages to buy coffee from growers that normally would not have access to a good market.

While doing these improvements the Colbran family also set out to market their coffee differently. The Colbrans historically had always sold their coffee to exporters, that would either blend it into other coffees or often brand it as something else. Wanting to showcase the quality of their coffee by itself, the Colbrans built their own dry milled on the estate, and set up their own export operations. This gigantic step took years of work to set up, but gave them full control over their coffee and quality.

The work and expansion the last two decades didn't stop with the family being able to export themselves. After those varied and monumental accomplishments, they continued to distinguish themselves by building out a cupping lab to go through every small lot they processed, often keeping lots separated out by the individual farmer or small section of their farm. They continued to improve their quality by building raised beds to dry their coffee better, which is a rarity in Papua New Guinea. The family also built a school for the community on the estate, and every year puts in tons of labor and money to maintain roads that are vital to them and other communities around them.

In 2015, the Colbrans decide to do a repeat of 1997, and bought another large estate in the village of Kobuta that had also fallen into heavy disrepair. Within a short time though, the estate and the growers around Kobuta, were producing coffee on par with the rest of their operation. Since 2015, the Cobran family have not just been sitting on their hands. From the cupping lab to the farm, every year there is a focus on refining the systems and quality to continue outputting unmatched coffee from the country.

When many people think of coffee from Papua New Guinea or coffee from the Pacific Rim, they often think of coffee with earthy, musty, wild or inconsistent fruit, that often can show harsh woody notes. This is not that kind of coffee. Look for red fruits, mellow citrus, with a lightly savory molasses like sweetness. Overall, this is well structured bright, and clean coffee from Papua New Guinea.

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