At the 2019 Australian Travel Writers Conference that was held in Cairns at the deluxe Riley Crystalbrook Hotel (such a beautiful and comfortable hotel), I went on a famil and learned that coffee and papaya are a match made in heaven. Sounds a bit odd, but at ground level, it works and for all the right reasons.
We visited Skybury Coffee, funnily enough, Australia’s biggest producer of red papaya harvesting 220,000kg of fruit per week on their 400-acre farm. PER WEEK!
So what makes papaya the perfect match to coffee? It’s the shade it offers the coffee tree. It was by accident that Skybury Coffee discovered that the coffee trees grew faster and yielded more fruit when planted next to a papaya tree. Also, papaya and coffee are a heavenly match for double cropping because they have similar nutrient requirements and the shade also offers great natural weed and insect control.
Double cropping and the production of virgin shade-grown coffee is an Australian first and just one element of Skybury’s motto to farm smarter, not bigger.
As business development manager Paul Fagg explained, using double cropping was the trifecta for Skybury – water efficiency, land efficiency and environmental advances, but double cropping doesn’t mean double growing costs, the increase overall was only about 25 per cent.
The shade does change the taste profile of the coffee – it’s more complex with a touch more acidity and lingering chocolate notes. The coffee is all 100 per cent Arabica and my long black was really good, so I ordered an espresso – to me, the true test of good coffee, and it passed with flying colours.
The papaya was also delicious, silky smooth, beautifully delicate in flavour and not overpowering, more a gentle tropical flavour. The deep orange colour presents beautifully on the plate too.
In Western Australia where I live, we can’t get Skybury papaya due to import laws, so I’ll have to cherish the memory. For readers in the Eastern States, keep your eye out for Skybury papayas in the shops.
It was interesting to listen to Skybury business development manager Paul Fagg and learn about their sustainable farming practices and the robust research and development Skybury has undertaken. It’s definitely a place worth visiting in the Atherton Tablelands in Tropical North Queensland.
136 Ivicevic Road, Paddy’s Green, Mareeba, Queensland
A great way to get a taste of the Atherton Tablelands is on a tour with Outback Tasting Adventures, small personalised tours. Every place we visited ticked the boxes for sustainability, passion and excellent produce.
Riley Crystalbrook Hotel
131-141 Esplanade, Cairns, Queensland
The Riley gets a 10 out of 10 from me. The five-star hotel has friendly laid back service but every comfort and convenience. My favourite, one switch next to the bed that turns off every light in your room – oh and the gorgeous robes, and the Nespresso machine, no more waiting for that first morning coffee.
Australian Society of Travel Writers
Budding or seasoned Australian travel writers reading this, if you’re not a member of ASTW already, I encourage you to sign up – click here for more about the benefits of membership