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Ozpresso, Baglaga plantation and the PNG Broomheads

Geoff BroomheadOZPRESSO

OZPRESSO is an Australian coffee shop in Charlotte North Carolina in the United States. Its owner is Geoff Broomhead (pictured).

The shop specialises in distinctly Australian drinks and food and has a close link with Papua New Guinea.

Geoff’s grandfather, Jeff Broomhead, fell in love with Papua New Guinea while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II.

After the war was over, in 1956, he returned to PNG with his wife, Josie, and four sons (one of whom, Richard, was profiled in PNG Attitude earlier this week).

Jeff and his family began clearing virgin soil and planted 150 acres of Arabica coffee plants at an altitude of 5,500 feet in the Wahgi Valley of the Western Highlands.

It was here in a perfect climate that Baglaga plantation began to flourish. Jeff employed 150 local villagers, with that number swelling to 400 during the harvest.

The Broomhead plantation was about 16 km from Mount Hagen, which at the time had no school or hospital. So Jeff built both on the plantation to serve the local population.

He was elected a councillor for his area, spending many hours in low, smoke-filled huts solving village problems.

As the Broomhead sons went off to other things, Jeff’s grandson, Geoff, ran Baglaga, selling the plantation in the 1970s to the local people who still own and operate it.

When old Jeff and his wife died, their ashes were returned to the plantation and interred in a memorial built by the new owners. The inscription on the memorial reads: “Jeff and Josie Broomhead, of Baglaga plantation Mount Hagen, who loved this land and the people. They rest in peace in the soil of a friendly country. In God’s care.”

And so the Broomhead coffee legacy has now moved to the USA and is being lived out through Ozpresso’s owner Geoff.

Comments

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Ray Pearson

I worked in TIGI for 6 months but then fell out with the Doctor, who was managing the company at the time. I think he was the father of Collins wife, but I'm not sure. ? The remotest plantation on earth :-) Miles from anywhere and accessed via a steep mountain road dug out of the hillside. ! I was there in 1973. I would love to get hold of those books by Mark Young. I'm sure they would make extremely interesting reading !

Mark  Ernest Young | Ex Tigi Plantations, Mt Hagen

Hi Phil - My two books are ‘Tigi Adventures’ and ‘Gumanch’. Both names are famous plantations near Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands. My email is mernesty@gmail.com. Could you kindly contact me and I will give you details.

Philip Fitzpatrick

What are the books called and where can they be bought Mark?

Mark Ernest Young

Hi Geoff - I was the manager of your parents Baglaga coffee plantation in the seventies, developing it into a super plantation.

Prior to this I managed the famous highest yielding Tigi coffee plantation for John Collins whose uncle was Danny Leahy an early explorer of the highlands in the 1930s.

Across the river at Baglaga was the large Gumanch plantation owned by Dick and Caroline Hagon. The Hagons were extremely kind to me a young coffee planter from India.

They made me so welcome that I was part of their lovely family. I have written two books on New Guinea about Tigi and Gumanch which have been well received.

Regards to all the planters and PNG highlanders.

Mark Ernest Young

HI Geoff, Peter Howard - a very good businessman - acquired Baglaga Plantation and developed it into a super plantation.

I was Peter Howard's manager at Baglaga Plantation for some time but had to return to India and the UK to attend to some family matters.

Prior to this I managed the very highly productive Tigi Plantation in the then remote Baiyer Valley for the famous John Collins from the Cllins and Leahy family.

John's uncle Danny Leahy with his elder brother Mike discovered parts of the Western Highlands in 1933.

I have written two books on PNG, i.e., Tigi Adventures and Gumanch.

Please keep in touch. I was overjoyed when Peter and Anne Howard visited me in Mysore for a week last year.

Peter George Howard

Hello Geoff. Your uncle was a very close friend of mine from 1963 until his death.

We enjoyed a lot of fun together including some years in the PNGVR.

I am very pleased to see you are making a success in the coffee industry. Your grandfather would be very pleased. I would like you to keep in touch.

Peter George Howard

I can confirm Jeff and Josie Broomhead did an incredible job creating Baglaga Plantation but age and failing health caused them to decide to sell it.

The plantation was purchased in 1970 by Kagamuga Trading Company a coffee processing company newly established in the Western Highlands.

The new owners then increased the plantings and removed the shade trees thereby doubling the acreage and nearly quadrupling production to 400 hundred tonnes of green bean per annum.

Ownership of Baglaga was transferred to The Investment Corporation of Papua New Guinea. Management continued to be overseen by Peter Howard until 1982.

Mark Young

Hi Geoff - Peter Howard owned Baglaga Plantation. I managed Baglaga in 1971 for two years.

Prior to this I managed Tigi Plantation for John Collins and developed it into the highest yielding coffee plantation in PNG.

Please keep in touch.

Garry Roche

Was Peter Howard in Baglaga plantation after the Broomheads? I remember visiting Baglaga in the early 1970s. I seem to connect it with Peter Howard.

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