Papua New Guinea is an extremely diverse country, with over 800 different languages spoken. Most tribes from the highlands had minimal contact with the western world until the 1930s, as exploration in PNG had been minimal. PNG is now a paradox between Western influence and indigenous traditions.
Commercial coffee production started in Papua New Guinea in the 1920s, with seeds brought from Jamaica’s Blue Mountain, a Typica known as Jamaica Blue Mountain. At that time most of the coffee production came from 18 large plantations. Plantations still exist in PNG, it only account for 15% of the total production; most of the production now comes from smallholders who tend to their coffee gardens, as they call them locally. These smallholders are subsistence farmers (meaning they live of their land), and they also grow coffee—there are no coffee farmers per se. Each garden might have anywhere from a couple to a couple hundred trees of coffee on 1-2 hectare of land, and parchment deliveries can range from 25–65 kg.
Cultural differences and conflict are partially responsible for the logistical difficulties of sourcing from PNG: The country’s many indigenous populations are often very distinct from one another in terms of custom and language, and individual communities might comprise only a few hundred people, making communication and the cultural sensitivity required to do business here more difficult than in other coffee-growing regions. Less than 10 percent of the population is connected to or uses the Internet for communications, and there are roughly 55 telephones (both fixed-line and cellular) for every 100 people—another impediment when operating within a very digital contemporary global coffee industry.