28 September 2015
An obvious advantage of being a Kona coffee farmer is free coffee. Some
time after selling the farm there will come a day when
I have to buy coffee. I am dreading that day. Having access to
farm fresh Kona coffee has definitely made me spoiled. When I no
longer have any coffee of my own, whose coffee will I drink? Will I
stick with Kona coffee or will I learn to enjoy Folgers? Ug, I don't
even want to think about it.
Right now, whenever we run out of coffee, we simply walk down to
the storage room and get more. We don't force ourselves to
drink the bad stuff. In fact, I think it's important to drink
the good stuff for quality control purposes. Yeah, quality
control, that's why.
We do occasionally end up with "bad" coffee. Usually it's
simply leftovers from a larger batch. Sometimes it's a bag
that has sat on the shelf too long. In this context, too long
is anything over a week or so. While the coffee stays fresh
much, much longer than that, we figure that the shelf-life belongs
to the customer, not to us. So after a week, even though the
coffee is still very fresh, we consider it "bad" because it's too
old for us to sell.
We do occasionally end up with coffee that is actually bad. I
know a lot of different coffee farmers and organize all sorts of
coffee-related community events so sometimes we end up with coffee
that's not even ours. One example was a recent roasting
experiment. When testing a roaster, it doesn't make sense to
use good coffee. It comes out of the roaster smelling like
good coffee but it's still easy to see and taste the defects.
I'm sad to say that there are some unscrupulous business owners
that sell bad Kona coffee. There are state laws that define
minimum quality standards but enforcement isn't always as thorough
as it should be. That is likely to change in the near future
but that's a whole different story.
So what do honest farmers do with bad coffee? Usually I simply
throw it away but recently we discovered an even better solution.
Living in the tropics means hot and humid weather. That's
fine when going to the beach, not so much fun when getting into an
older car that has been sitting for awhile. If the windows get
left down when it rains, the musty smell can be overwhelming.
Imagine if someone spilled milk, or maybe a latte, then rolled up the
windows, left the car in the hot sun and forgot about it. Even
a thorough scrubbing doesn't get out all the stench. But a giant pile of
freshly roasted coffee works great.
The clear bags on the left is freshly roasted coffee that is ready
for packaging. The coffee in the open trash bag is an air freshener
that is more than a month old but still doing it's job superbly.