Skip to main content

Drink up! Conservation coffee is here

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

PNG YUS coffee is now available at Woodland Park Zoo ZooStores and Caffe Vita locations.

Seattle is about to taste the first ever coffee made available in the U.S. from a remote part of Papua New Guinea—the Yopno Uruwa Som region of the Huon Peninsula—home to the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo, the little known animal that inspired this whole effort.

So how did we get from ‘roo to brew? 

Tree kangaroo joey Yawan in his mother's pouch, behind the scenes at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

To protect an endangered species like the tree kangaroo, you need to protect its habitat.

Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo’s Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program helped make that possible in 2009 when we worked with Papua New Guinea villagers in the remote Huon Peninsula to protect 180,000 acres of their land in the nation’s first Conservation Area.

Picking coffee cherries in the shade. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

But to make sure that land stays protected not just in name but in action, we had to make it possible for these villagers to find an ecofriendly, alternative income source that would give them the money they need to send their children to school while protecting their land from destructive activities like logging and mining.

In comes the coffee.

A grower picks fresh coffee cherries in Papua New Guinea. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.  

As we blogged last fall, the villagers in this area have long farmed coffee, but their nearly impossible-to-reach landscape made it unlikely that their product would ever reliably be made available to any market.

Daniel Shewmaker of Seattle’s Caffe Vita advises growers on best techniques for drying coffee. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Seattle’s Caffe Vita helped us cross that hurdle by using their coffee importing and marketing expertise to bring the beans here, marking the first-ever coffee from the YUS region made commercially available in the U.S. purchased directly from the growers at a fair price.

Caffe Vita brews samples of the PNG YUS coffee to test for quality and consistency. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Now you can get your hands on limited edition, 12 oz. bags of “Papua New Guinea Yopno Uruwa Som” Farm Direct coffee—grown in shade and without the use of pesticides—available now at all Seattle Caffe Vita locations and at Woodland Park Zoo ZooStores. Made up of the best in beans from 54 Papua New Guinea farmers, the coffee is mellow and honey-like, with flavors of toasted hazelnut, orange zest, and guava, finishing with cocoa and sugarcane. 

When you drink this coffee, you not only take an action that helps conservation, but you also directly improve the lives of these farmers and their families, who for the first time are earning a fair price for coffee -- money they need to put their children through school and provide for their family’s healthcare.

Children of the YUS region in Papua New Guinea. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Try a cup and if you like it, tell a friend. The more beans we can spread around town, the bigger a difference we can make for the people and wildlife of Papua New Guinea. 

Thanks for your support!


Anonymous said…
I think it's AWESOME that you're giving us exotic stuff to purchase to support these causes! I'm totally going to buy some.
Anonymous said…
AWESOME! I'm going to the ZooStore today to buy some!
Anonymous said…
This sounds like an amazing program.