New Caledonia: Domaine du Kouandji Coffee
New Caledonia in Melanesia is an oasis in the South Pacific, a land of contrast, splendour and excitement. Whether you want unspoiled, deserted beaches, the bright lights of nightclubs and casinos or cuisine unlike any you have experienced before, you will find it all there. There is something else that you can find there and could be considered the best kept secret in the world: the rarest, most exotic, and one of the most expensive coffees in the world...New Caledonian coffee. This secret is just known by the most knowledgeable coffee connoisseurs in the world.
New Caledonia Coffee History
The first coffee seeds were introduced to Noumea, New Caledonia by monks of the Marist Brothers order in 1860.
In 1880 early settlers from Reunion Island (also known as Bourbon Island) also introduced coffee seeds. Three varieties were imported by these settlers: Coffea arabica, Coffea liberica, and Coffea laurina. The varieties arabica and laurina were planted commercially by these early settlers. In 1910 as a result of the propagation of the coffee leaf rust disease the Coffea canephora (robusta coffee) was introduced from Java to New Caledonia, as canephora is resistant to this disease.
Over 30 years ago, coffee held an important place in New Caledonia's agricultural sector but when other sectors proved more lucrative, plantations were abandoned as too labor intensive. The coffee industry in New Caledonia gradually declined over the years until it reached a point when it practically disappeared.
Domaine du Kouandji (Kouandji Estate Coffee)
KOUANDJI Estate Coffee is located 25 kms south-east of the city of Noumea at the foot of Kouandji Mount. The word Kouandji is an indigenous Melanesian word which in French is translated as "Là d'où vient le soleil", the English translation is "the place where the sun comes from". Kouandji Estate is a New Caledonian coffee company that has decided to go ahead and revive coffee growing in New Caledonia. Mr. Pierre Cochard, Managing Director of this company is a strong advocate of coffee. He has just received a prestigious French quality award for his coffee, Leroy, a unique coffee variety only found in New Caledonia.
Mr. Cochard started growing coffee on a trial basis several years ago on a six-hectare block
Kouandji Estate grows the variety “Leroy", also called “Pointed Bourbon”, nicknamed "The President" because it was regularly supplied to the ex-President of France, Jacques Chirac, at the Elysee Palace. Only a very limited amount of this coffee is available each year.
The Leroy variety is a very rare and unique coffee variety only found growing commercially in New Caledonia. It is a natural mutant of Bourbon originated in 1860 in Bourbon Island known today as La Reunion Island. There is another theory that says that this is a separate variety originated from a natural cross between Coffea Mauritiana and Coffea Arabica Typica. It is a plant of short stature, short internodes and small narrow leaves. It is drought-resistant and extremely susceptible to diseases, which is why its yield is so low.
Domaine du Kouandji plantation
Leroy, also called "Pointed Bourbon", has some unusual characteristics that make it a
- Leroy has 50% less caffeine content than conventional coffee varieties. Whilst Coffea Arabica has 1.2% caffeine content, Leroy has 0.6% caffeine content.
- The shape of the bean is pointed at one of its ends
- The productivity of Leroy is much lower than that of conventional varieties; this fact contributes to its rareness and scarcity. A very small amount of Leroy coffee is available in the market.
- It loses less weight when roasted. Normally, conventional varieties lose 20% weight during the roasting process, while Leroy loses just 16-17%.
- The Leroy coffee tree is very resistant to drought conditions
New Caledonian coffee commands one of the highest prices in the world, not just because of its rareness and high quality, but also because the production costs are very high since New Caledonia is a French territory and the labour costs are much higher than the labour costs of other coffee producing countries.
Here are some of the characteristics of Domaine du Kouandji Estate:
Use of Shade Trees:
Total Rain per Year:
Other interesting information :
25 metres above sea level. This is one of the southernmost grown coffees in the world, its geographical location is very close to the Tropic of Capricorn and its altitude is equivalent to an altitude of 900-1,000 metres in the Equator region
Ingas and diverse fruit trees
Laurina, this is a very rare variety characterized by its high cup quality and its naturally low caffeine content of just 0.6% (most Arabica varieties have 1.2% caffeine content)
One of the southernmost grown coffees in the world
This variety is also known as Bourbon Pointu because the shape of the beans is unique, it is pointed in the extremes.
As far as we know this is the only commercial plantation in the world producing this rare variety.
Just 1000 kgs of this coffee are available for export each year
Coffee preferred by Sir Winston Churchill, Jacques Chirac, and Honore de Balzac