The project created a selection of micro-lots by implementing controlled and innovative processing methods for the reasons of:
1.Researching and recording the effects on cup score and flavour character
2.Supplying Zest’s customers with a selection of PNG micro-lots
3.Creating an interesting and engaging narrative for promotional means
Why Papua New Guinea?
PNG is that wild and untamed origin that has long been on our radar as being relatively unexplored in terms of coffee and storytelling. We, like many other roasters, felt that the potential for amazing, even game-changing coffee could be hidden somewhere amongst the rich biodiversity, highly phosphoric soils and old-world Jamaica blue mountain typica plants- all inherent to Highlands PNG.
In the roastery, we often experienced the unique sparkling acidity and jellybean sweetness present in some lots of A or AX grade PNG coffee and the idea of discovering the full potential of this origin profile in a micro-lot context was a stone we couldn’t leave unturned.
A major element of the project was to produce a range of micro-lots that explored the effects of a low-oxygen fermentation environment on flavour creation.
We produced 6 lots, all with different fermentation times - 45hr, 60hr, 65hr, 70hr and a 100 hr – plus we created a triple fermentation honey (meaning the coffee was first soaked as natural, pulped and fermented in an open-air environment and then washed and dried as a yellow honey).
Throughout these experiments, we monitored and recorded the PH, BRIX and temperature of each lot and made ‘flavour decisions’ with the help of good friends, well-versed in coffee fermentation, from Colombia and Brazil.
There was quite a theoretical/technical side to our approach and we aimed to activate certain microbial populations, secondary substrates as well as a certain type of yeast.
5 of the micro-lots were created from selective pickings which focused on only the Typica variety and deep-red coloured cherry with an BRIX reading of around 18- 20%.
The 6th micro-lot was fermented with 'normal cherry' with a lower BRIX average. It will be interesting to taste the difference in quality between the two and discern the effects of higher sugar content on the fermentation process.
Some of the lots are still on the drying patio and we are yet to taste them, but the first three of which we have tasted are extremely interesting and distinctive and.... amazingly delicious.
Micro-lots are a viable way to contribute to a sustainable coffee future. This is not necessarily due to the higher price farmers/producers receive from top scoring coffees but more so that micro-lots break down some of the social preconceptions around what coffee 'is' by enabling a deeper and richer conversation about quality and distinctive flavour.
The overarching goal here, apart from pushing the boundaries of flavour experience, is that micro-lots help to attribute a higher value to coffee generally, and, through this avenue, coffee can provide a more sustainable and dignified lifestyle for its people.