KONA, Hawaii // We are currently on a road trip around the Big Island. First stop, Kona coffee farms. Though I don’t drink coffee, I enjoy learning about it considering what feels like 99% of the world drinks it daily and it’s a common water cooler conversation like the weather. Having a few coffee talking points couldn’t hurt.
Adam is what I would call a coffee snob // lovingly engaged in everything coffee.
He enjoys learning about the plant, elevation labels, and the roasting process. We have even taken a “seed to cup” class. He drinks his coffee black // no cream // no sugar // a true purist. To say Adam has been enjoying our Kona visit would be a drastic understatement. We have visited 4 farms and tried all the coffees each has to offer // Kona Blue Sky // Holualoa Kona Coffee // Bebo's Kona // Heavenly Hawaiian. You could call it a highly caffenaited coffee crawl. Kona coffee is different as it is typically dark roasted. The coffee itself tends to have a natural sweetness and earthy flavor to it as well as having low acidity.
The Kona region is only about 20 miles by 2 miles and is extremely strict about the coffee bean quality that comes from the area. They must be a certain size and weight to be considered Kona coffee. The high elevation and natural afternoon showers make it the perfect location for coffee trees. The harvest season is primarily August thruogh January and since all the cherries don’t ripen at the same time each tree must be visited about 6-7 times per harvest. Coffee is hand picked in the region and pickers make around 50 cents a pound. Our tour guide said she was a slightly below average picker and could probably pick around 120 pounds in a day to give you an idea of what they make. Less than 20% of the beans picked make it through the entire process from picking to bagging of the roasted coffee. The coffee trees are only around 5-6 feet tall due to pruning that typically cuts the tree down to its main trunk about 1-2 feet off the ground. The tree only takes a year to recover and they typically prune a tree in three year cycles. The peaberry bean is the most elite bean grown in the region and also the most expensive. Peaberry is an oval bean that comes from having only one bean per cherry instead of the typical two.
- Extra Fancy
- Number One
- Triple X
- Rubbish // all the rest // as my Apo would say “Junk"
The rubbish beans are sold to other farms that make blends and put the misleading label “Kona” coffee on their bag. Be sure to look for only 100% Kona coffee labels or make sure you check to see how much “Kona” actually makes up the blend you are buying. Kona coffee makes up just over 2% of total global coffee production which is why it is so desirable as well as pricey.