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Papua New Guinea Arokara

March 17, 2006

This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.

Papua New Guinea is the odd man out in the Indonesian coffee spectrum. The acidic flavors are not floral, but more like dark fruits; and the roast flavors tend towards distillates rather than woodiness. Finally, the fermented notes are more beefy than mushroomy. In general, PNGs are not as heavy bodied as Sumatras, Javas, or Sulawesis. Arokara is a cooperative in the eastern New Guinea highlands that produces a rain forest coffee without fertilizers, although it is too remote to be certified for these things.

Bob: This coffee is wonderfully fragrant from the get-go starting in the grinder and ending in the cooled cup. Not high-toned floral, but deeper-toned and fruity. And that fragrance is confirmed in the cup profile. On the palate it is winey with cedary notes, reminiscent of a Bordeaux wine with berry-like tones. And the fruit and cedar are balanced by hints of milk chocolate and caramel. Those qualities coupled with a long finish and ample body make this coffee an excellent candidate for nearly any kind of preparation: drip, French press, vac pot or espresso drinks.

If, after the initial cupping, conducted 12 hours after roasting, the coffee was behaving like a well-rehearsed ensemble, a wait of a few days turned it into a full-fledged orchestra, enhancing nearly all of its already fine qualities, with little or no loss of aromatics.

Jim: I had a hard time with this review; to my palate, it is a coffee with some profound flaws that nevertheless drinks beautifully. There is a good deal of ferment which comes out as overripe lilacs and lavender on top, and beef bouillon aromas underneath. However, there is enough chocolate and red fruit in the taste to make these aromas interesting rather than offensive.

When one moves from the sniff and slurp of cupping to actual drinking, the flavors integrate into a simple Burgundy-like "happy cup." As usual, I let my scores reflect the negatives, and add cuppers points to bring out this positive. In darker roasts and espresso, these flaws will be roasted out, unfortunately along with some of the interest, and it will become a solid red fruit, chocolate, and distillates comfort coffee.

Jim's Score
Dry Fragrance: 3.25
Wet Aroma: 3.75
Flavor: 7.5
Finish: 7.0
Acidity: 7.25
Body: 7.25
Cupper's Correction: 2.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.0

Bob's Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.4
Wet Aroma: 4.2
Flavor: 7.8
Finish: 7.7
Acidity: 7.8
Body: 7.5
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.4

  • Lighter Roasts: the technical flaws integrate into a burgundy like cup.
  • Darker Roasts: dark fruit, chocolate and distillates.
  • As Espresso: a comfortable shot roasted to rolling second.


UPDATED: March 20, 2006