Did you know that in the Kona Coffee belt, there are about 800 family farms? Many are small farms that are just a few acres. Some are large farms that encompass hundreds of acres. But all of these farmers have one thing in common: they produce some of the best coffee in the world.
Family farms have been producing Kona coffee for generations. In fact, Kona coffee was first grown on the Big Island of Hawaii in the early 1800s by the family of Chief Boki, the governor of Oahu. Since then, the tradition has been passed down from generation to generation.
The climate in the Kona Coffee belt is perfect for growing coffee. Kona Earth's family farm is ideally situated at 2000 feet on the slopes of Hualalai, one of the active volcanoes on the Big Island. This location provides the farm with rich volcanic soil and a microclimate that is sunny and warm most mornings, with cooler afternoons and mauka (mountain) showers offering plenty of moisture. These conditions are ideal for the Arabica (or Kona Typica) coffee trees to flourish.
Small family farms put a lot of heart and soul into their Kona coffee. Farmers take great pride in producing a quality product. They carefully hand pick only the ripest coffee cherries. The coffee cherries are then pulped, which removes the skin and fruit from the bean. After the coffee beans are sorted and pulped, they are laid out on a large drying deck to dry in the sun and air. Once they are dried, the coffee beans are hulled to remove the parchment layer that is protecting the bean. The final step is to sort and grade the coffee beans. It's a lot of work but, as they say, it's a labor of love.
There's something to be said about an artisanal approach to Kona coffee production. Small family farms produce a coffee that is uniquely their own. Each farm has its own special way of doing things, based on their farm's unique characteristics and their own experience. For example, a high elevation farm, like Kona Earth harvests later in the season. With the cooler temperatures, the fruit matures slowly, leading to beans of remarkable size and quality.
Smaller family operations may not produce the quantity of larger, commercial farms but they more than make up for it in quality. For example, during roasting, many smaller family farms like Kona Earth choose to roast in small batches. By micro roasting on site, they maintain consistency and ship only the very freshest beans to their customers.
When you buy Kona coffee from a small, family farm, you can be confident that you are getting a product that has been hand-crafted with care and attention to detail. You are also supporting the local economy and keeping alive the tradition of small family farms in Hawaii.
If you’ve never tried Kona coffee, you owe it to yourself to find a family farm that produces it. You’ll be glad you did!