By JAMES KILA
THERE is greater need for an approved specialty coffee standard in Papua New Guinea if producers are to benefit financially in the international gourmet coffee market trade.
That was the advice by a visiting international coffee expert from Japan, Hidetaka Hayashi during a two-day visit to Goroka, Eastern Highlands province.
Mr Hayashi is the executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of Japanese and a World renown coffee taster with a long history dating back to 1962. He is also a member of five international panel of judges in the “Cup of Excellence Program”, started by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in 1999 following interests from the world’s quality conscious roasters.
Mr Hayashi’s trip to PNG was organised by Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) in collaboration with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) and the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC).
Mr Hayashi spent two days in Eastern Highlands where he visited the CIC’s research division at Aiyura as well as coffee estates in the Kainantu area. He also conducted two workshops on Tuesday attended by smallholder producers and exporters respectively.
He also had an opportunity to taste coffee samples from around the country and make expert assessment on the cup taste to determine flavour and quality of the coffee.
Mr Hayashi in his presentation stated that there are different criteria to judge and differentiate specialty coffee from the common or traditional coffee. The criteria and cupping form for the common coffee which is currently practiced by PNG are to check and examine defects and taints of coffee, mainly and accurately. On the other hand, specialty coffee is judged and differentiated by flavour profile of cup quality.
Additionally, Mr Hayashi request PNG coffee producers to be cautious in cultivating their coffee and apply correct harvesting and processing techniques to maintain quality from seed to the green bean.
He stated that the common coffee in the current world trade is under severe competition from high commercial premium coffee and specialty coffee.
According to Mr Hayashi, the current main-stream market which the industry is targeting for the common coffee is stagnant, therefore, an option PNG should look at is specialty markets in the United States and Japan which is on an upward trend.
The Chief Executive Officer of the CIC, Ricky Mitio in his welcome address on Tuesday stated that the CIC is not trying to jeopardise the existing traditional markets. However, priority is placed on quality as an avenue to getting premium price to producers.
“In order to escape the declining trend in the traditional market, improvement of quality level is very necessary,” Mr Mitio stated.
Managing Director of the Kongo Coffee Limited, a nationally own coffee exporting company in his address urged local PNG producers to organize themselves to connect to the specialty market.
Mr Kapka stated that Mr Hayashi is a very important person in the world specialty coffee trade and the coffee industry in the country must acknowledge the contribution he is making, especially his advice.
Kongo Coffee was able to break into the tough Japanese specialty coffee market through technical assistance from Mr Hayashi.