In the last few years, the Colbran family has gone from selling their coffee to exporters—where it would be blended with other coffees and sent to buyers as unrecognized generic Papua New Guinea coffee—to having the most recognized farm in entire country for quality.
This recognition is for good reason. The family’s focus on traceability, lot selection, and refinement of processing can’t be understated. This year alone they changed the way the coffee is dried, milled, and exported. They did so even when this year ended up being one of the most challenging years for coffee production at Baroida. What was thought to be a very good harvest ended up yielding a fraction of the coffee that was expected. Knowing that and going into our fourth year working with Colbran family, we couldn’t be more grateful to be working with them and impressed by the coffees and their dedication to always outputting the best.
Explanation of the Name
The name Baroida comes from an old traditional spirit that was believed to reside in a particular large rock that lies in the middle of the river that runs through the lands of the plantation. The reason it was believed to be a spirit is that even the largest river floods could not move this one rock—even when all other stones and rocks were washed away.
Aiyura, Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea
Baroida sits just outside the town Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, and the villages associated with our Tairora coffee surround the estate. This part of the Eastern Highlands is mostly rolling grasslands, but it has remarkable climate and great conditions for growing coffee and, really, anything. Before coffee was planted in this area, the Tairora Tribe mostly cultivated sweet potatoes and other subsistence crops up until the 1950s and '60s.
Baroida itself was one of the first coffee farms in the area, and much of the coffee planted by the small producers of the Tairora project actually originally came from seeds obtained at the Baroida Estate. Baroida today is one of the few estates in all of Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea, in general, is a late-comer to the production of coffee, really only starting in the 1920s and not taking off until the 1950s. Today, Papua New Guinea is renowned for how remote and culturally diverse it is. This remoteness kept outside visitors from venturing into the Papua New Guinea highlands until the early 1900s. This remoteness also led to another popular fact about Papua New Guinea which is that the hundreds of individual tribes in the country speak more than 800 documented languages among all of them. It is often stated that certain tribes did not know of other tribes living as close as a few kilometers away because of rugged terrain and the remoteness of the highlands.
Baroida was founded by Ben Colbran and wife Norma in the early 1960s. At the time, the surrounding land was mostly grassland, so, for the first two years, Ben primarily cultivated vegetables that he sold in the coastal town of Lae.
In 1965, Ben followed the the government’s encouragement to plant coffee, which then thrived in this micro-climate. Ben owned Baroida until 1979, when he sold the land to a trust, but Ben’s son Nichol stayed to manage. Nichol managed the operation until 1991, when he left to work on other projects. In 1997, Nichol bought the land back, but, in the six years he was gone, the farm had been mismanaged and had fallen into disrepair. Fortunately, the Colbran family immediately started to turn things around, all the while helping to create positive livelihoods for a lot of the local producers around the farm. In the last 10 years, Nichol's son Chris, along with his wife Melody and his brother Rhett, have also become integral to the operation. In addition to the Colbrans, now in their third generation on the farm, there are more than two dozen key employees with years of experience who make the coffee possible
Varieties: Typica, Bourbon, Arusha
Elevation: 1,600–1,865 meters
Post-Harvest Process: Washed
Harvest Time: May 2014