The Real Smell of Kona Coffee
8 November 2010
There's nothing quite like the smell of freshly roasted coffee.
Even people that don't drink coffee can appreciate the pleasant
aroma. One interesting study showed that just
of coffee can ease stress caused by sleep deprivation.
When they say "the smell of coffee" they mean the smell of freshly roasted
coffee. As a Kona coffee farmer I can assure you that coffee has
several other smells too, some of which are not so pleasant.
Every spring in Kona the coffee trees blossom with delicate white
flowers. These blooms have the fragrance of jasmine and are quite
pleasant. So coffee starts out smelling great. We all know
that it ends up smelling pretty good too. It's some of the steps
in between that aren't so nice.
For most of its life, a coffee bean simply smells like any other
plant. When it's dried, but not yet roasted, coffee has a
distinct smell. Still quite subtle, kind of like cardboard.
I think the burlap bags the coffee is stored in have a stronger smell.
The only time coffee smells bad is after pulping. As soon as they
are picked, the coffee beans are pulped to remove the outer fruit
layer. Like any fruit, this layer is full of sugars and can rot
quite easily. The freshly picked coffee cherries smell fine, even
sweet, but that doesn't last long. As soon as the discarded pulp
starts to ferment and rot, that's when the stink can get bad.
I am quite familiar with the smell of fermenting coffee. We
ferment the coffee on purpose to help clean the beans. Removing
the sugars helps prevent mold, fungus and other pests. After a
good washing, the bean are then dried and stored until ready for
The coffee we ferment on purpose doesn't smell so bad. At least I
don't think so but maybe because to me, that's the smell of
money. Where the stink gets bad is the pile of discarded pulp.
I use a manure spreader to put the pulp back out
in the fields. That helps reduce the need for fertilizer.
More importantly, it helps gets rid of the rotting smell. I
always wash all the equipment too. It helps but it is impossible
to get rid of the smell completely.
I smell like fermenting coffee right now. I've smelled this way
for several weeks now and I'll probably smell like this for several
weeks to come. Sure, I shower but that never lasts long.
The very next day I'll smell like fermenting coffee all over again.
I don't really mind. Like I said, it's the smell of money.
Sure, I'd prefer for my money to smell like roasted coffee but that's
up to you. I won't smell like roasted coffee unless you buy some
coffee. Go ahead, help out a stinky farmer and click here to
buy some Kona Earth coffee.