Kona Earth - Our Story
Kona Earth is a family-owned and operated 100% Kona coffee farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. Steve and Joanie Wynn, who took the reins of the business in 2021, take a hands-on, artisanal approach to growing their delicious specialty coffee. They take great care in nurturing the trees and tending to every phase of the process; picking the cherry, micro roasting the beans, then shipping the freshest coffee farm-direct.
Time for a Change
At the height of the pandemic, Steve and Joanie took a pause 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 all range of content, from documentaries and television content to video for large corporations like Sony and Lucasfilm. Still, they were restless for a new challenge, a new adventure to take on.
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 industry and searching in earnest for the right property. When Kona Earth came on the market, they felt they'd found just the right fit - an existing farm and business with room to grow.
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.
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!
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."
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 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
Steve and Joanie have been refurbishing the farmhouse in anticipation of opening for farm tours in 2023. Sign up for their mailing list to be alerted to tour availability.