28 September 2015
An obvious advantage of being a Kona coffee farmer is free coffee. There may 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.