On the topic of Flores coffee.
It's almost 7 years ago to the day when I attended a special event organized in conjunction with ASCAA - a day long seminar promoting the work of the ICCR (Indonesian Coffee Research Centre) at the Box Hill Institute in Melbourne (for the University of Sydney).
Dr Jeff Neilsen and Tony Marsh (an expert in coffee agriculture) and both very smart coffee people, gave a highly detailed presentation on the coffee industry in Flores and we cupped numerous samples - ranging from defective to interesting. It was an enjoyable day and surprisingly useful in terms of developing a point of reference for Flores coffees.
Hard to imagine it was that long ago........a lot has changed over that 7 year period. Actually, 12 months in the coffee world is akin to literally 3 years in our normal day-to-day life - things in coffee change so fast.
A lot of technical work was being applied to improving the farming and processing of Flores coffees and I had hoped with high expectations that by now we would have been able to source, roast and extract quality Flores coffees on a regular, ongoing basis.
Unfortunately, I'd have to say that to date, given they started earnestly in 2009 and with superb technical credentials, it can't be deemed a success.
Where are the results ? Why don't the brokers regularly have offers available for great Flores lots ?
I'm yet to see such coffees available and I'm not entirely sure what people are referring to when they talk of experiences with Flores coffees because the stock simply has not been easily available to purchase in any real terms in Australia. It's possible that some Sumatrans have been called Flores to create a point of difference or distinction. I just don't know.......not doubting anyone, but when I've spent the last 7 years peering through a precise lens of incoming coffees and not seeing much in the way of Flores, I have to wonder out loud = maybe they were branded as Sumatrans, who knows.....it could be a case of the identity being lost in the vast Indo realm.......Flores is just not appearing as a discrete or distinct origin.
I am constantly in contact with the major brokers every other day and I'm not aware of any (or many) coffees from Flores coming onto the Australian market at any stage. Of course, the odd lot may land, but it's a rarity. Whilst MTC recently had a small holding of less than a pallet (barely 12 bags), by any measure these academic improvement projects would be considered as failures if that's all there is to show of the work.
Maybe it's been the climate changes (higher rainfalls), a lack of infrastructure (economics) or a range of other factors that constrain the opportunities for success. Given the expertise and credentials of the invested experts, coupled with a general lack of any real data/information coming out of that region, it's probable or even reasonable to consider that Flores coffee is still in it's infant development stage and not regarded as a "true player" on the global coffee origin stage.
Perhaps other countries have scooped up the limited harvests and Australia has not had any offers extended - who knows.
In terms of the commentary about differences between PNG and Indonesian coffees - in a nutshell, it's the same story you can say about Indo's and every other origin, so it's not about PNG because they have remarkable similarities to Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, etc..........whereas Indonesians are materially different to everything else due to their predominant processing method of wet hulled.
Geographical proximity plays no part in such comparisons and should not be considered as exhibiting some or any attributes whatsoever. In other words its just as simple to compare an Indo to a Colombian in terms of "why are they different".