Coffee production in the country dates back to 1926 when the first Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee seeds were planted. However, the Coffee Research Institute claims that coffee was introduced in 1890, although it is widely accepted that commercial production only took off in the country in the late 1920s. In Sangara, the foothills in the southeast of the country, 18 commercial coffee plantations were established in 1926.
Nowadays, an estimated 87,000 hectares (210,000 acres) is under coffee cultivation in Papua New Guinea. The majority of the coffee is grown in the highlands, where 70% of the population are dependent upon agriculture.
In Papua New Guinea there are approximately 2.5 million people employed in the industry, with 280,000 smallholder coffee growers, 660 larger farmers cultivating areas of 1–30 hectares (2.5–74 acres), 65 large plantations, 18 registered exporters, 51 registered processors and over 6,000 roadside buyers. However, although 12 provinces are active in the coffee industry, the bulk of coffee (approximately 90%) is produced in the five highlands provinces, Western Highlands (45%), Eastern Highlands (37%), Simbu (6%), Morobe (5%) and East Sepik (5%).
Kigabah Estate operates on a nucleus estate model, a large grower (plantation) that acts as a central hub servicing smaller growers and block holders, assisting them with agricultural advice on pruning and fertilizer scheduling, providing transport for the coffee cherries, access to cheaper inputs through discounts offered from purchasing large volume and the provision of seedlings.
At 1676 metres (5,500 ft) above sea level, coffee is nourished by abundant rainfall and rich nutrients found in the thick, black topsoil. These fertile conditions give Kigabah Estate coffee a juicy acidity, round body and herbal notes reminiscent of black tea tannins. The Kigabah Estate is progressive in its farming practices and environmental practices, and contributes ten percent of its profits to the farming community.