Kona Coffee Farm Tour

Kona coffee cherry


December 22, 2008

We spent an hour touring Greenwell farm, a Kona coffee grower located at the midpoint between Keauhou and Kealakekua. Our guide, who is from Seattle, has worked at the farm for nine months. She began by explaining what exactly was Kona coffee:

“The seed of the Kona coffee plant is originated from Guatemala. The brand “Kona Coffee” refers to all the coffee plants that are grown on the slopes of Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the Kona District. Only in the distinct region will the sun shines brightly every morning, accumulated cloud around noon, sudden but heavy pour in late afternoon, then clear sky again at dusk. This weather pattern combines with the volcanic soil and humidity level along the slope make this area the ideal place to grow Kona coffee.”

Besides the geographical monopoly, another reason for the high price of Kona coffee is every cherry has to be hand picked over the course of half a year between every August to January. Since the cherries will not go ripe all at once, workers have to inspect and hand-picked the plants regularly.

Once the cherries are picked, the next procedure is to remove the pulp and ferment the beans. The farm we toured used the Machine-assisted wet processing, which removes the pulp not with microbes like more traditional method, but by the ruptures generated within the machines.

The drying method is merely laying the beans under the sun and reduced the beans’ humidity to around 10%.

Although we did not see the roasting process, our guide did tell us two things I found very interesting. First, the brand on almost all bags of roasted beans bear the name of not the farm that grows the beans, but the name of the roaster. Unlike red wine, when the farm can control most of the production, the taste of coffee is most heavily influenced by the roaster. To save the farm’s reputation from any potential mishaps of the roaster, the farm’s name will not appear on any packaging of the beans.

The second interesting fact is people often have the misconception that the longer the beans are roasted, the stronger the caffeine will be. However, a longer roaster will produce a stronger and flavorful taste, but in the process will actually eliminate the caffeine within the beans. In other words, a regular cup of coffee, according to our guide, contains a higher concentration of caffeine than a cup of espresso. Totally counter-intuitive.

Pretty interesting tour, especially when it was free.

Some photos I took on the tour:

Our sunburned guide from Seattle.
The bean was revealed after peeling off the pulp of the cherry.
The bean was revealed after peeling off the pulp of the cherry.
The cherries are piled up into large metal containers.
The cherries are piled up into large metal containers…
... then removes the pulp by machine and dried under the sun.
… then have the pulp removed by machine and then are dried under the sun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s