Kona Earth - Our Story
At the height of the pandemic, Kona Earth owners Steve and Joanie Wynn paused to consider their next life chapter.They'd had a great 30-year run with their Emmy award-winning production company Bayside Entertainment. They had traveled the world together producing a wide range of projects, from documentaries and television content to marketing videos for large corporations like Sony and Lucasfilm. They also had their share of passion projects like Journeys for Good and American Companies Give Back. Still, they felt restless for a new challenge, a new adventure for their lives' next chapter.
They had always dreamed of making Hawaii their permanent home. When Steve stumbled on the idea of coffee farming, they both sparked to the idea. They began researching the Kona coffee industry and searching in earnest for the right property. When the Kona Earth farm came on the market, they felt they'd found just the right fit - an existing farm and business with room to grow.
A Family Business
Transitioning to the Kona coffee business isn't as strange as it may at first seem for this husband and wife team. Steve’s family had owned a vineyard in Sonoma and, as a young man, he loved working the fields and learning about farming. So, as much as he loves shooting and editing, he relishes this opportunity to work the farm and get his hands dirty. He's out in the fields every day mowing, pruning, weeding, fertilizing, and tending to his coffee tree "babies". Sound like a lot of work? It is! But Steve is loving every minute of it.
Joanie translates her producing experience to the farm's business side. After all, it is called coffee production. She handles the finances and logistics, sales and marketing, order fulfillment, and customer support. She also helps out in the field whenever she can and assists Steve with the roasting. She finds the new challenge stimulating and exciting. She loves forging relationships with other farmers and roasters and learning the ropes of e-commerce.
The Wynn's son Ryan helps out daily on the farm and his 20-year old strength and energy are an enormous boost for the couple. Ryan loves working with Dad and Mom and actually thinks the new family business is "pretty cool". Naturally, the Wynns are thrilled to have their one and only with them every day. Though Ryan will start college locally in the Fall, he still plans to work on the farm when he can.
Rounding out the Kona Earth team is “Tickle”, their Covid rescue pup who loves running behind the tractor and exploring his new "dog park". He's also serious about Gecko patrol - never catches any but boy does it keep him busy!
Care In Every Cup: A Chance to Give Back
In their previous business, pro bono efforts such as Journeys for Good and American Companies Give Back have been the Wynns' way of promoting philanthropy and volunteerism. At Kona Earth, they set up "Care In Every Cup."
Care In Every Cup is Kona Earth's give-back program. The program donates a percentage of every purchase to Big Island non-profit Kohala Center. The organization does important work advocating for fragile ecosystems including the reefs, cloud forests, and agricultural communities. Recently, donations have focused on supporting reef preservation efforts at Kahalu'u Bay with Kahalu'u Bay Education Center and its ReefTeach program. In addition to monetary donations, the couple is committed to raising awareness for Kohala Center programs through Kona Earth social channels and customer outreach.
Putting Down Roots
In their first few years, Steve and Joanie have focused on improving farm infrastructure and operations. They've made significant capital investments for items like a new tractor, commercial dryer, chipper, fertilizer spreader, and sprayer. They've streamlined the pulping setup and added solar-powered fans to support coffee drying on the deck. They've improved the green coffee storage area, adding temperature and humidity controls to preserve bean freshness.
One big equipment add-on is their JM Estrada roaster which allows them to micro-batch roast on site as opposed to outsourcing. This offers them tremendous flexibility and supreme freshness when shipping their coffee farm-direct.
The Wynns take an artisanal approach, nurturing Kona Earth coffee from crop to roast. They endeavor to create a superlative Kona coffee experience for their customers.
Sustainable Farm Operations
Though Kona Earth isn't an organic farm, the Wynns implement sustainable farming methods wherever possible. As the previously mentioned solar-powered fans, these efforts include using water catchment and composting fruit and cacao remains to use in the orchard. Joanie also uses recyclable shipping materials where possible.
Fun Times Ahead
Almost two years into their adventure, the Wynns are settling into their new life as Kona coffee farmers. They're loving watch the farm develop and improve and enjoy growing the business as more customers order the coffee for home delivery. At day's end, they take a moment to appreciate the beauty around them, especially the stunning Hawaiian sunsets.
Steve and Joanie have been refurbishing the farmhouse in anticipation of opening for farm tours in 2023. Please sign up for their mailing list to be alerted to tour availability.