The coffees used in this blend are selected from the Eastern Highlands. The smallholder farmers producing these coffees in the form of parchment have developed and perfected their technique to produce a clean and balanced product over generations, picking only the ripest cherries most suitable for this quality. This parchment is sun-dried to under twelve percent moisture content and, occasionally, may require some mechanical drying at the processing mill. Processing the dried parchment into green beans occurs at selected processing mills or at the central processing mill in Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province of our sister company in Papua New Guinea. The green beans are then screened and sorted to meet this grade’s specifications.
To preserve quality, the coffees remain in the highlands, where the climate is far less humid. Hence, when the time of departure comes, the coffees are transported approximately two hundred miles by road to the port city of Lae, just in time to meet the vessel schedules for the coffees to be shipped out into the world. We use the ethyl-acetate process (commonly referred to as ‘sugarcane process’ or simply ‘E.A’) to decaffeinate this coffee. Ethyl-acetate can be derived from natural sources during the sugar refining process, and can also be reproduced synthetically. It is used as a solvent to bind the caffeine in order for it to be extracted from the bean. The process starts by soaking the green coffee in water and then steaming it for about 30 minutes to open the pores and expand the coffee cells. This makes the caffeine extraction possible. Then the green beans are soaked and washed in an ethyl acetate solution, which attracts and removes the caffeine. Once the coffee is saturated, the tank is emptied and a fresh solution is poured in, which is done for another eight hours. Then the coffee undergoes steaming, which removes the EA. After drying, cooling, and polishing the beans, a final quality control determines whether the coffee is ready for roasting.