Okay, no one is going to feel sorry for us traveling to Hawaii to visit a coffee farm. Can we just move on?
Our family had the opportunity to go to the Hawaiian islands in June. It was a long planned family vacation, but from the onset, visiting our Kona coffee supplier was a top priority. Rachel and Kelsey, our teenage daughters, accompanied us on the trip. No arm twisting was involved.
Kona is located on the “Big Island” of Hawaii on the windward west coast. All of the islands were formed by volcanic activity, some of which continues today. This has made for rich soil in a perfect climate for growing coffee trees. Just the right blend of sun, rain, temperatures, soil, elevation and farming techniques come together in a perfect union in the Kona region.
Finding a flat piece of ground is difficult in Kona. The land slopes from the summit of Mauna Loa (13,680 feet) all the way down to the ocean. When it rains in the mountains, everyone below knows to beware: Flash floods.
Kona Extra Fancy Coffee Origin
Greenwell Farms produces the Kona Extra Fancy coffee we have purchased since 1993. Extra Fancy is the highest grade of coffee grown in Kona. The farm began in 1850 when Tommy Greenwell’s great-great grandfather came to the island. Tommy is the current head of Greenwell Farms and is more than just a farmer. Engineer, pioneer, philosopher and entrepreneur all come to mind. He is also just one heck of a nice guy.
Tommy spent almost 3 hours with us on a quiet, sunny morning at his farm. This is not a big corporate farm. He knows all of his employees and treats them like family. They all share in the profits when it is a good year. In a bad year, he makes sure they have the farm as a safety net. He even built extra housing on the farm for seasonal workers who come in for the harvest.
The pictures will give you an idea of what we saw and experienced. It was quickly made clear to us what makes Kona Extra Fancy coffee so extraordinary (and expensive). Tommy and his team hand prune every coffee tree. All of the coffee is picked by hand. It is impeccably sorted and packaged. The green (unroasted) beans arrive at our roasting facility in 100 pound bags. When we open a bag we see nothing but beautiful green beans.
We raise our coffee mugs to the Greenwell family and the hard working people of Kona.
Mary and Randy Adamy
OHenry's Coffee Roasting Co.