Whoever believed back in 1986 that using biodynamic coffee farming in Papua New Guinea would be a great idea was, in fact, correct. Even if it was a pretty crazy, adventurous idea – above all, economically.
Back then, organic coffee was virtually unheard of – to say nothing of Demeter-certified versions. So, in principle, a good starting point. And Papua New Guinea itself was the ultimate insider’s tip for the best Arabicas.
All that was missing was someone who believed in it as firmly as we did. Eventually we found him: Joachim Bauck, quite simply one of the most important pioneers in the organic movement. With Bauck as our buyer, Raimund Remer as a farming advisor and lots and lots of coffee-plant care, things got going in 1990 with just half a container of “bio-dyn” (biodynamic) coffee from the plantation near Mount Hagen. And, in case you’re wondering, that is exactly where our organic coffee got its name from.
Well… Papua New Guinea was (and is) not only an exotic coffee country. It is a beautiful, untamed country in which extremely different and sometimes rival tribes live, along with lots of foreigners interested in its natural resources.
Some time after the first coffee shipment, Raimund Remer and his wife had to leave the plantation because their lives were threatened. Difficult to imagine, but true. And a huge step backwards for us. Later, an additional setback came with the loss of Demeter certification, since no cattle were able to be kept on the plantation – the hillsides were simply too steep. However, their manure and the preparations made from it to improve the soil are simply fundamental to the Demeter principle of a “closed loop”.
photo: Babette Lichtenford
In all honesty, we left Papua New Guinea alone … for a few years. We found our bearings again, looked for new plantations, for example in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Honduras, Peru and later in Africa as well. We convinced the farmers that organic coffee was more profitable than coca. Together with them and their cooperatives, we built up the infrastructure that made Mount Hagen what it is today: the epitome of choice coffee whose original flavors always give you a sense of the adventure behind their origin.
Incidentally, we did return to Mount Hagen, of course. Today, we work with over 2,500 small farmers in the cooperative – and produce the finest organic Arabica in Papua New Guinea.