A Little Bit of History
The Kona District, located on the west coast of Hawai'i island (Big Island of Hawaii), has produced coffee since the early 1800's. The term Kona name applies only to beans grown in North and South Kona, and coffee that is grown elsewhere in Hawai'i cannot be called Kona coffee.
Coffee was first brought to Kona by Samuel Reverend Ruggles from cuttings from Brazil, although it was not until much later in that century that it became a consistent and worthwhile crop. It was grown on large plantations, but the crash in the world coffee market in 1899 caused plantation owners to have to lease out their land to their workers. Most of these workers were originally from Japan, and they worked their leased land parcels of between 5 and 12 acres as family concerns, producing large, quality coffee crops.
The tradition of running family farms has continued throughout Kona. The Japanese-origin families have been joined by Filipinos, mainland Americans, Europeans, and Latino families, like us.
The Coffee Production Cycle:
Blooming, Development of the Beans, and Harvesting
Between February and March, the Kona coffee trees start blooming. The trees are covered of Small white flowers known as "Kona snow". Green berries appear during April.
By late August, the small, round fruit looks like a cherry and turns red when is ready to be harvested (picked). It is called "cherry" because of its similarity to a cherry fruit.
Each tree is hand-picked several times between August and January, producing an average of 15 pounds of cherry. This amount is equivalent to about 2 pounds of roasted coffee (it takes about 7.5 pounds of cherry to get 1 pound of Roasted coffee).
There are several coffee processing methods generally used: Wet/Washed, Natural and Honey are three of the most used by coffee producers worldwide. Our usual processing method is the called “Wet/Washed” method, described below:
Floating, Soaking, and Pulping
Within 24 hours of picking, all the cherries are deposited in a large water tank in order to allow all the green, overripe, and dried beans to "float", and be discarded, before the pulping stage begins. also, this soaking process starts to make the coffee cherry fruit to start peeling away from the beans, making the cherry husk and pulp easier to remove during the "Pulping" process.
After being "floated" and "Soaked", the cherries are run through a mechanic pulper, where the skin is removed (pulped). On this step, the beans are separated from the pulp. At our farm, we use a water efficient pulper to reduce the amount of water needed, and also to reduce contamination of the soil.
We use the removed skin as weed control, spreading it all over the ground, where it will decompose and eventually converts into soil.
Fermentation, Rinsing, and Drying
After the beans are pulped , we place them overnight in a fermentation tank, to remove any mucilage (fruit pulp) that is still stuck to the parchment layer around the beans. The fermentation time is about 24 hours. Then, the beans are rinsed with clean and filtered water at the rinsing station.
Once the beans are rinsed are transported to the drying shed to let them dry just using sunlight, until the beans reach optimal moisture levels. Depending on the weather, it takes between 7 to 10 days for the beans to dry. Now called "Parchment", because this is the layer that is covering the beans at this point, the beans are stored in burlap sacs.
Hulling or Milling, and Storage
Then, only when we need to fulfill and order of either green or roasted coffee, we proceed with the "milling" stage (removal of the parchment skin and the thin silver skin below it). After the parchment is milled, the result is "green" beans (because of its color). on this stage the “green” coffee beans are ready for roasting, or to be sold as green beans.
100% Kona Green Beans Certification by Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Our green beans are sorted and graded according to Hawaii Department of agriculture grading standards. and are certified as 100% Kona beans by an authorized officer of the state of Hawai'i Department of Agriculture (USDA).