Arokara is a co-operative of Plantations surrounded by mountains. With over 20 years experience in coffee growing and processing in PNG, Arokara has always delivered a quality bean. These plantations were originally set up by the Rural Development Bank with modern farming methods. In the last 10-15 years the plantations have been returned to the ownership and management of the landowner clans who now do not use any chemicals or fertilizers in the production process.
The cherry is hand picked and then pulped on the same day and fermented in cement vats for 36 hours. After the fermentation process the coffee is washed with fresh mountain stream water from the nearby Aru River. The coffee is then sun dried to give it a nice even bluish color, which can take 7-12 days.
Notable for the mountainous topography of the island and the incredible cultural diversity of thousands of indigenous groups, historical changes in infrastructure have reduced the number of centralized coffee plantations typical of most coffee regions. Thus, many New Guinea plantations are actually collections of traditional “coffee gardens,” small plots of as little as 20 plants grown alongside subsistence crops. With increased introduction of modern processing methods, these already incredible coffees continue to grow in quality and consistency.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Papua New Guinea Arokara, from Barefoot Coffee Roasters in San Jose, California.. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Arokara Cooperative
elevation: 1600 – 2800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Typica, Bourbon, Arusha
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Grade A Mile High; Chemical free
The aroma of the Papua New Guinea Arokara is pretty full-on. It’s a heavy aroma that doesn’t really let up; roasted nuts and malts, cocoa powder, baking spices, dried fruit… Not much brightness.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, my palate is inundated by a massively full-bodied and murky coffee that has a thick, velvety texture. The first thing to note about this coffee is that, for such a thick, velvety coffee, it’s pretty harsh on the palate. It coats the tongue and bites at the taste buds with flavors of roasted nuts and spices (coriander, cinnamon, clove). It’s not necessarily over-roasted, but it is fully-developed; and that’s evidenced by the presence of copper and faint traces of carbon, which produces an astringency throughout the finish. Again, though, it’s not necessarily over-roasted, but I can definitely taste the inside of the roaster.
As the coffee cools off, it mellows out, removing a lot of the harshness from up front and providing a bit of clarity. Now I can taste the heavy molasses, the macadamia nuts, the brown sugar, the oak, the spices… The more it cools, I’m also tasting a subtle emergence of black cherry, red wine tannins, raisin, plum, and a complex red winy acidity – much like a Cabernet.
Full body; velvety mouthfeel; malic acidity; dry finish.
PNGs are difficult to get just right and I think this one just got a little bit away from Barefoot. I could sense what their Arokara has innately—dark berries, molasses, dark red wine—but those flavors were just a bit too masked.
*content provided by Barefoot Coffee Roasters
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.