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Our trip to Kona

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  • Our trip to Kona

    Greetings all!
    We have returned from our holiday in Hawaii and I thought I would share some of the Kona experiences we had along the way.

    Prior to going over, I made inquiries with the quarantine mob (AQIS) and ended up obtaining an import permit that allowed me to bring home up to 5KG of green coffee.

    Kona is on the Big Island of Hawaii. The actual growing area that is ideal for coffee is not huge, but they do pack a lot of plant and a lot of farms in there.

    Not all farms are interested in tourists. The ones that are, are almost certainly overpriced and keen to sell you as much other stuff as possible.

    Also, asking for green beans from some of them gets you some blank stares along the way.

    We had a guide book that mentioned a tourist pamphlet called the Kona Coffee Country Driving Tour. The place we were staying did not have one, so we just set off in search of one of the more well known places - Greenwell Farms.

    Now, I have no idea whether their coffee is any good yet. I bought some, but have not roasted it yet.

    Anyhow, here is a pictorial of our tour of the place.

    The shop is about 100 meters from the mill. Greenwell grow their own as well as buy cherries off other growers in the area.

    As you approach the mill, there are some plants around that still bear fruit. The guide said that they are past their best from a commercial point of view, but they keep them for sentimental purposes. Apparently, they were part of the first planting.

    Picked a cherry and had a look:

    They were in the midst of their 6 month harvest season, so the mill was operating each day.
    Some cherries for processing:



    It rains pretty much every afternoon in Kona, so the drying platforms all have a retractable roof that is brought over the beans to cover them. They were built like this many years back and are still moved manually today.

    The finished product.

    We found that a lot of the farms (even those listed in the driving tour brochure - we found one at Kona Blue Sky) do not really want tourists to drop in. Some even state that they do tours, but when you front up, you might just find one person holding the fort or, as happened on more than one occasion to us, no-one there at all.

    All in all, it was interesting, but the only ones who encourage tourists (that we found) were: Greenwell Farms -
    Kona Blue Sky -
    Mountain Thunder - Would only sell green in 5lb lots. Too much investment in an unknown for me!
    Holualoa -

    There are probably others, but once we had seen 4 and visited another 3 with no luck, my interest was satisfied and I had 3lbs of very expensive green coffee to try when we returned.

    As for their coffee on offer at the farms - All prepared in vac pots. Nothing really tasted that outstanding to us. Kona Blue Sky probably had the nicest tasting ones of the lot, but it might just have been that it was fresher than the other places.

    Roasting - they do not seem to have the concept of a roast profile. They bung it into the roaster and just go x minutes at x temperature and that = our Dark roast. More than one place said that was how they did it. When I asked about subtle variations due to moisture content etc., they just looked at me like I was odd. Oh well.

    It was still very interesting.

    When I get around to roasting some, Ill let you know.


  • #2
    Re: Our trip to Kona

    Just putting a reply in to stop all the pics loading on the 20 most recent page.


    • #3
      Re: Our trip to Kona

      Mountain Thunder has a nice ring to it.


      • #4
        Re: Our trip to Kona

        Awesome Brett, real, genuine Kona!
        I love that retracting roof.

        I find it funny that they dont all want the tourists. I would have thought it would be a good side-line for them.... even better if you could get a "farm stay" weekend to get some hands-on at the plantation... maybe even train their roasters

        Weather looks like it was good for you and the ladies too.


        • #5
          Re: Our trip to Kona

          Great stuff Brett,

          Very interesting and informative....



          • #6
            Re: Our trip to Kona

            Its amasing to think that these guys live on a live volcano that is continually spewing out lava.

            I was there two years ago, but never got to a planatation. We spent a week at Volcano which is actually a reasonable distance away from the plantations on the other side of the huge volcano. My experience with the coffee over there was very poor. They may grow a great product, but it seems the rest of the chain lets them down.

            Nice pics.




            • #7
              Re: Our trip to Kona

              Thanks for the information and pics. Dont forget to let us know how the coffee roasts and tastes.