WS Papua New Guinea Bebes Sero
“The high mountain valleys of central Papua New Guinea offer some of the world’s most favorable terroirs for production of fine coffee.”
Bebes' plantation and wet mill are located in the vast, rolling, rich landscape of Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands province. In addition to coffee from its own plantation, Bebes also processes cherry coffee from other farmers in this part of the highlands. In the Eastern Highlands, much of the coffee is still grown on small "garden" plots, along with household subsistence crops. These partners have similar varieties at similar altitudes.
In the highlands, morning fog fills the valleys and mountain peaks, the highest of which reach nearly 4,000 meters, float in the sun. As the fog dissipates, so does the cold. The clouds build up, and the afternoon heat is often accompanied by heavy thunderstorms, which disappear as suddenly as they appear, thus starting the whole cycle all over again, creating an ideal climate for coffee growing.
Bebes Sero's farm and company name is Besser, a combination of his first and last name. Prior to acquiring his coffee plantation and wet mill, Bebes Sero owned a store in the nearby town of Kainantu. Bebes' 38-hectare farm was planted primarily with Typica trees in the early 1960s, and much of the land and facilities are original from that era.
On Bebes' farm there is plenty of shade and the coffee trees are not fertilized or pruned, but grow freely. Unique to Bebes' farm are the gullies he has dug between the rows to manage rain runoff. Walking through these low channels of the farm with the branches full and twisted overhead, the height and size of these mature trees is even more spectacular.
Coffee in Papua New Guinea
Compared to the speed with which Europeans colonized other parts of the world, they seemed to spread across Oceania in slow motion. Thus, although the highlands of Papua New Guinea are textbook coffee growing country, commercial coffee production was not established until 1928. In British colonial style, coffee was initially grown on plantations (albeit atypically with Jamaica's Blue Mountain). The history of colonial New Guinea mirrors that of Central Africa. Germany, feeling excluded from the general expansionist trend, seized a portion of northern New Guinea in the late 19th century and lost it during the First World War. The Japanese invaded Papua New Guinea during World War II and the island was the scene of fierce fighting for much of the war. For most of the 20th century, administrative responsibility for Papua New Guinea and its evolving configuration (and name) rested with Australia.