Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Papua New Guinea

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Welcome expatriates to the rich tapestry of coffee culture in Papua New Guinea, where coffee is an integral part of daily life and social interactions. As expats embark on their journey in this unique and vibrant country, they may desire to immerse themselves in the local coffee scene and traditions. Thus, this guide has been crafted to offer informative insights and tips to help them do just that.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Papua New Guinea is blessed with fertile land that is perfect for cultivating coffee. Coffee production in this region dates back to the 1930s, when the first commercial coffee plantations were established. Today, coffee is grown in various parts of the country, with several regions renowned for their coffee production. Some of the most prominent coffee-growing areas in Papua New Guinea include the Eastern Highlands, Mount Hagen, Western Province, and the Highlands region.

Although coffee plantations can also be found in other parts of the country, the majority of coffee produced in Papua New Guinea is locally grown. This means that it's a great opportunity for expats to explore the coffee plantations in the country, meet local farmers, and learn about the coffee production process. One such farm that is expat-friendly is the Sirromet Farm located in the Papago District of Port Moresby, which is owned by a visiting Australian expat.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Papua New Guinea is renowned for its unique coffee styles and blends. Generally, the coffee produced in Papua New Guinea falls under the Arabica category. However, coffee farmers in Papua New Guinea are increasingly experimenting with Robusta beans, which are more resilient to the challenging weather conditions in the country. The following section brings to light some of the favorite coffee style drinks that expats must try while in Papua New Guinea.

Traditional Brews

  • Kawa Kawa: This is a local coffee brewing technique that originated in Papua New Guinea. The coffee beans are roasted and ground into fine powder, which is then boiled in water. The resulting coffee is thick and rich, and the process is referred to as kawa kawa, which translates to 'coffee coffee' in the local language.
  • Meri Kopra: This is a traditional coffee brewing process that has been passed down from generation to generation in Papua New Guinea. Meri Kopra is more of a ceremonial process than a coffee brewing technique, and it's often performed during significant events, such as weddings and festivals.
  • Jiwi Kopra: This is another traditional coffee brewing technique that's popular in Papua New Guinea. Jiwi Kopra involves boiling coffee beans in water and allowing them to steep overnight. The coffee is then strained and served hot.

Specialty Blends

  • Elathera: This is a premium coffee variety that's grown in Papua New Guinea's Rai Coast region. Elathera coffee has a unique, yet smooth taste that's distinct from other Arabica coffee varieties.
  • Morobe Laminar: Another premium coffee variety, this type of coffee is grown in the Morobe Province, which is located in the northern part of Papua New Guinea. Morobe Laminar is renowned for its smooth body, balanced acidity, and sweet aroma.
  • Berkerra: This type of coffee is grown in the eastern part of Papua New Guinea and is known for its full body, low acidity, and rich flavor notes.

Popular Coffee Beverages

  • Solo: This is a popular coffee beverage in Papua New Guinea that's served hot or cold. Solo is made by boiling finely ground coffee beans in water and is often served with a pinch of salt.
  • Macchiato: A macchiato is an espresso shot with a small dollop of foamed milk on top. Papua New Guinea is home to several coffee shops that offer macchiatos made with premium Arabica coffee beans.
  • Latte: A latte is an espresso-based coffee beverage that's made with steamed milk and a small amount of foamed milk on top. Many coffee shops and cafes in Papua New Guinea offer lattes made with locally sourced Arabica coffee beans.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee drinking is an integral part of daily life in Papua New Guinea, and there's a rich history and tradition attached to coffee consumption in the country. Expats looking to immerse themselves in Papua New Guinea's coffee culture should familiarize themselves with its customs and traditions:

Coffee Culture

Coffee drinking is deeply ingrained in Papua New Guinean culture, and it's often used as a form of social interaction. Coffee plays a significant role in community gatherings, work meetings, and social events. It's also customary to offer coffee as a sign of hospitality to guests visiting a home or office.

Coffee Etiquette

  • Offering Coffee: When offering coffee to guests, it's essential to prepare fresh coffee and serve it hot. It's also customary to allow guests to take the first sip as a sign of respect.
  • Accepting Coffee: When accepting a cup of coffee, the guest should accept it with both hands and hold it close to their chest as a sign of appreciation.
  • Tasting Coffee: When tasting coffee, it's customary to swirl the cup slowly and appreciate the aroma and flavor notes.

Coffee Customs

  • Exchanging Coffee: Coffee is often used as a form of currency in Papua New Guinea, particularly in rural areas, where money is scarce. People exchange coffee beans, coffee grounds, or a cup of coffee as a valid form of currency.
  • Growing Coffee: Coffee production is an essential source of income for many families in Papua New Guinea, and growing coffee is often a family affair. Families come together to cultivate, harvest, and process coffee beans, which later generates income and provides employment opportunities.
  • Sharing Coffee: Sharing coffee is an integral part of Papua New Guinea's coffee culture. Families, friends, and neighbors come together to share coffee and bond over a cup of locally brewed coffee.


Papua New Guinea's coffee culture is rich and diverse, and it offers expats a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the country's traditions and customs. From exploring coffee plantations and farms to indulging in coffee style drinks and learning about coffee-drinking customs, there's no shortage of ways to experience Papua New Guinea's vibrant coffee culture. By understanding coffee origins and production, embracing favorite coffee styles, and learning about coffee drinking customs, expats can deepen their cultural understanding and enjoy a fulfilling coffee experience in Papua New Guinea.