Wikipedia.com states, "Kona coffee is the market name for a variety of coffee (Coffea arabica) cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai Mountain and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. The Kona weather pattern of bright sunny mornings, humid rainy afternoons and mild nights creates favorable coffee growing conditions. The combination of this relatively low yield crop and intensive hand labor that has allowed this liquid delicacy to develop a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world. Only coffee from the Kona Districts can be legally described as "Kona."
North Kona is located on the side of Hualalai Mountain. South Kona stretches from Southern slopes of Hualalai down onto massive Mauna Loa Mountain. Both mountains are active volcanoes on the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island. Hualalai, is an 8,271 foot shield volcano, that last erupted only 200 years ago! And this volcano is tiny compared to Mauna Loa, the biggest volcano on the entire planet! That is right. Mauna Loa stands on it's own, all the way from the bottom of the ocean floor to 13,679 feet above sea level! It is the single biggest land mass on earth! Mauna Loa's most recent eruption was in 1984.
The extremely fertile soil, and perfect weather conditions of Hualalai combine to create the ideal coffee growing climate. The rich volcanic soil gives the coffee trees food and strength to produce flavorful coffee beans. Climate and elevation also play a critical role in growing coffee and bean size. Coffee trees like mid-to high elevations and thrive in areas where the mornings are sunny and the evenings are mild. Only here in Holualoa, on Hualalai volcano, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean do climate, elevation, location and soil quality all come together, on our coffee so delicious!
The coffee plant was first brought to Kona in the nineteenth century by Reverend Samuel Ruggles from Brazilian cuttings, 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, brought in to tend and harvest sugar cane. 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, and Europeans. There are approximately 600 Kona coffee farms, with an average farm size of less than 5 acres (20,000 m2). In 1997 the total Kona coffee area was 2,290 acres (9 km2) and green coffee production just over two million pounds.
Brief History of Kona Coffee
By Mike Craig BIRTH OF A PRODUCT
Kona Coffee is a cultural tradition that's been carried on since Samuel Ruggles first brought arabica coffee to Kona in 1828. This plant was amazingly adaptable to all situations in the Kona area. Even in the beginning Americans and Europeans realized what a wonderful marriage took place between Arabica coffee and Kona's calm, unique climate and rich volcanic soil.
Mark Twain was so impressed with this marriage, that in his book Letters From Hawaii he stated " I think kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other." As early as 1842 there was a duty tax imposed on all foreign coffee brought into the Kingdom of Hawaii. This protective measure wasn't enough because the crop was still devastated by the white scale blight in the 1850's. This pest would eventually be brought under control with the introduction of the Australian beetle. Still, Hawaiians forged ahead with the first coffee mill in Napoopoo in 1850.
CULTURAL TRANSITION AND GROWTH
The growing of Kona coffee has been the love of many different cultures. This melting of many cultures into a small geographic area and a limited product makes Kona coffee one of the more romantic coffees in the world. Starting in the 1880's, waves of different cultures came to escape sugar contracts or other adverse situations. The Chinese came first. Then the Japanese. At this time bigger plantations were broken into smaller plots of land where Hawaiians and others could make a living off a piece of land no bigger than five acres. A new community agricultural based economy was developing with a mixture of Hawaiian, Asian, European and other cultures. Their Techniques had given Kona coffee a very good world reputation by the turn of the century. At this time over 6000 acres of coffee was planted in North Kona alone. A real commercial industry was beginning to take shape.
W W Brunner built the first mill in South Kona and he is credited with planting large sections of coffee trees in that district. Many of these very trees are still being cultivated today. In 1906 many farmers and mills consolidated to form Captain Cook Coffee Company. Once again the industry was set back by a blight of black fungus.
This brings us to the 1920's when things started looking better again. American Factors under the brand name "Mayflower" developed a large market for Kona coffee. In the 1920's Busaco Sato started an independent co-operative.
By the 1930's Kona coffee was one of the most prosperous products on the island chain. The government even changed the school schedules so that the children would be available to help during the harvest season. Like many products coffee took a setback during WW II. However production levels began to rise fast after the war. In 1956 American Factors sold their interest in their mill to Kona Coffee Cooperative. There were many small farms growing coffee on tall trees, where they used ladders (on the hilly rocky Kona grounds) and a strong local labor force that had individual trees yielding as much as 40 pounds. Many small Hoshidonnas (small self-contained pulping mills with drying decks under rolling roofs) were producing loads of parchment to be sold to large processing plants. Over 5000 acres of coffee were planted in Kona at this time.
In the mid 1960's the cooperative mill of American Factors was sold to Sunset Mills. A gobbling up of small mills began to take place so that by 1970 there were only three mills left on the whole Kona Coast, and only two by 1978. This domination combined with a small market base had an adverse effect on farming and farmers. An influx of entrepreneurial farmers and millers initiated a new industry based on new markets and old style farming practices brought higher quality back into Kona coffee. Quality and consistency seems to be the edge that has kept Kona coffee alive during many frustrating times. The 1968 State of Hawaii grading standards also helped improve quality. Quality is always better with hands on personal touch and caring for the crop.
Even a horrendous drought in the 1980's couldn't slow down the interest in Kona coffee farming. The one thing that set back the coffee industry was the dropping of cherry prices to farmers. This was dramatically illustrated at the end of the 1980's when the price to the farmer went from $1.00 per pound of cherry to $.40 per pound in one month. These price fluctuations, drought, blights and many other obstacles, have not stopped this wonderful multi-cultural agrarian way of life. There are still over 600 farms producing quality Kona coffee on over 2000 acres of land. In fact in 1989 Consumer Magazine reported that Kona Coffee was the best out of 41 coffees tasted.
In 1991 to establish some truth in labeling and to help protect the name Kona, House Bill #289 was passed with a Hawaii State minimum blend law of 10%. In 1993 The Kona Coffee council, A non-profit organization, by direction of its farmers and processors voted to register the name Kona Coffee to protect the name as a distinct growing area. This area certainly has a very rich, courageous and diversified agriculture product. It makes perfect sense that the farmers and processors of this area would want to make sure that their farming practices and that their coffee would be protected.
Through this brief history you can see Kona Coffee has gone through tremendous ups and downs. It has been transitions in traditions and traditions in transitions. These same trees have been courageously cultivated by many generations of different cultures clinging to a way of life. Love of the bean and of farming and its lifestyle explains how they made it through these peaks and valleys. It is a credit to these many generations of farmers. This beautiful but difficult way of life has created farming techniques going back one hundred and sixty years. These techniques and lifestyles are pretty much the same today. However even as you read this traditions are still in transition in Kona Coffee.
Transitions In The History Of Kona Coffee Today:
100% Kona Coffee is a small but romantic and wonderful product. It has been transitions in traditions and traditions in transitions.
Holualoa, Hawaii County, Hawaii
Ten minutes away from Kailua Kona, you will find Holualoa Village. A small community perched up on the green slopes of Mount Hualalai. The rich, majestic atmosphere is full with bird songs and the smell of roasting coffee as it has been for over a hundred years. Holualoa is full of farms, art galleries, and small shops. The world famous coffee, lush foliage, and breathtaking scenery of Holualoa Village will be one of your best bets for a Big Island vacation at any time of the year.
In the early 1900's, transport in Holualoa Village was by horse, donkey and Model T's. Most of the population was found in the mauka (mountain) areas and Holualoa was the hub of all the activity. This "Old Hawaii" feeling still has a significant presence here.
Holualoa is the island's premier coffee town. It is located three miles above Kailua-Kona off Hualalai Rd, with an elevation of 1500 feet above sea level. The village is primarily a single lane road called Mamalahoa Highway or Hwy 180 lined with little galleries and interesting workshops. It is evident in its orchards abloom with tropical flowers and fruits.
Holualoa is part of Kona metropolis, but even so, it enjoys its isolation from the noise of the city below. The entire village measures a total of 15.2 square miles. The population of the village as of the latest census, (2000), reached the 6,107 mark. Like the rest of Hawaii, Holualoa's population is a collection of people with American, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Hispanic, and Portuguese blood. The intermarriages between the races gave birth to a population of mixed cultures that thrive in their diversity. This diversity offers a lot to tourists and other visitors; influences of European, Asian, and Hispanic culture are evident in Holualoa.
Literally meaning "long sled run", Holualoa, derived its name from the ancient Hawaiian practice of sledding along the mountain slopes using "holua" or wooden sleds. "Loa" means long, a fit description to the once sledding site now called Mamalahoa Highway. Holualoan history is tied up with the rich history of its coffee, Kona beans.
Holualoa shares some of the most glorious focal points in Hawaiian history. Mt. Hualalai and the rich volcanic soil it provides started the agricultural industry in the village before foreigners ever set foot in Hawaii. This gave rise to a complex and highly structured Hawaiian civilization. The arrival of the Europeans, by accident in 1778, opened Hawaii as a major port along popular trading routes. The Hawaiian people, particularly the chiefs, traded cut wood like sandalwood for products like weapons and livestock. The influence of the European traders heralded the coming of the missionaries. The new Christian religion and Western power overcame the ancient kapu beliefs of the natives.
A European, named Samuel Reverend Ruggles, introduced coffee to Holualoa by bringing in cuttings he got from Brazil. However, coffee did not immediately became the village's prime product until later in the century. Coffee was raised in large orchards but the decline of coffee's market value in 1899 made plantation owners lease their lands to their tenants and workers. These tenants were mostly Japanese who raised small but quality coffee products for local trade. The trend of raising and keeping family crops was sustained with the coming of Filipinos, European migrants, and mainland Americans. This family trend produced a feeling of community and compassion among the villagers that they extend to tourists and visitors. Holualoa's Attractions.
Most think that Hawaii is all about beaches, luaus, and girls dancing the hula. However, the true Hawaii is up mauka, where the mountain breezes weave around coffee trees and art is created in little studios. The combination of rich natural beauty, ancient traditions and fine art galleries, makes this little coffee town extremely unique. Holualoa's numerous private galleries exhibit the works of local artists in different mediums.
For a sampling of Holualoa art, visit Shelly Mauddsley White. Her gallery lies along the central strip of the village. Each gallery owner in Holualoa has an exhibition of solo works on display along with collaborative efforts. Glasswork, paintings, raku ceramics, and sculpture are available and on display.
Art and coffee are two of Holualoa's pride. Come by November and see the Coffee and Art Stroll festival where art galleries and coffee estates join forces to give tourists and residents alike the true essence of Holualoa living. There are lots of historic sites like old churches. Holualoa's Economy
Pushed into obscurity by the more popular Hawaiian resort destinations, Holualoa learned to make its own economy different. Rather than hosting luaus for tourists, the main bulk of the village profits come from the coffee industry with different families handling their own coffee estates. These family businesses are mostly geared to boost the local economy by attracting tourists and supplying local shops in Hawaii. The major plantations eye the international market through exportation of the coffee to the U.S. mainland.
Art galleries in Holualoa eek out a living with the support of tourists buying art pieces for home or little souvenirs. Some of the bigger galleries, like the Lovein's Holualoa Gallery, allow online placement orders for art pieces and ceramic vessels.
Cut flowers and tropical fruits comprise a small part of the village's economy. Livestocks like the Kona nightingale (donkey) were raised and sold for work and transportation purposes.
Holualoa is a small Big Island town whose claims to fame are its delicious coffee and talented artists. Together, these make the town big in its own way. The town's size is a reflection of its character: personal, charming, and warm.
Median resident age: 42.1 years
Median household income: $50,492
Median house value: $265,500
Land area: 14.2 square miles
Elevation: 1372 feet
Zip code: 96725
Information provided by the state of hawaii and can be found at:
Kona coffee blooms in February and March. Small white flowers cover the tree and are known as "Kona Snow". In April, green berries begin to appear on the trees. By late August the red fruit, called "Cherry" because of the resemblance of the ripe cherry, start to ripen for picking. Each tree will be hand-picked several times between September and January, and that one tree produces appoximatly 20-30 pounds of cherry per year.
Within hours of picking, the cherry is run through a pulper, the beans are squeezed from the red-purple skin, called pulp, and then placed in a fermentation tank overnight. The fermentation time is dependent on the temperature and elevation; about 12 hours at a low elevation or 16 hours at a higher elevation. The beans are rinsed and spread to dry on a "Hoshidana" or drying floor. Traditional Hoshidanas have a roof on rollers be opened to sun dry the beans in the heat of the day and closed to cover the beans at night or in the event of rain. It takes 7-14 days to dry the beans to an optimal moisture level of between 9.5-12.5%. The beans are then stored as "pergamino" or parchment. The paper thin membrane is milled off the green bean prior to roasting.
It takes seven to nine pounds of cherry to make one pound of roasted coffee. Therefore,100 pounds of cherry will yield about 12 pounds of roasted coffee.
Kona coffee beans are classified according to the seed type. Type I beans consist of two beans per cherry, flat on one side, oval on the other. Type II beans consist of one round bean per cherry, otherwise known as a peaberry. Further grading of these two types of beans depends on size, moisture content, purity of bean type and size. The grades of Type I Kona coffee are Kona Extra fancy, Kona fancy, Kona Number 1, and Kona Prime. The grades of Type II Kona coffee are Peaberry Number 1 and Peaberry Prime. There is also a lower grade of coffee called Number 3 which can not legally be labeled as "Kona".
Because of the rarity and price of Kona coffee in the marketplace, some retailers sell so called “Kona Blends”. These Blends” are not a combination of different Kona coffees, but rather a blend of Kona and Colombian, Brazilian or other foreign coffees. These blends usually contain only 10% Kona coffee and 90% cheaper imported beans. Current Hawaiian law requires blends to state the percentage of Kona coffee on the label. There is no similar Federal law. Some retailers use terms like Kona Roast, or Kona Style. To be considered Authentic Kona Coffee, the State of Hawaii's labeling laws require the prominent display of the words “100% Kona Coffee”.
Downes Grounds sells strictly 100% Kona Coffee - we do not sell Kona Blends!
We've made it easy to place a gift order. After you have purchased coffee and have arrived at our checkout stand, we will ask you if it is a gift? Should you indicate it is, we will then ask you for the recipient's name, address and message you would like us to write on the gift card. We will drop-ship the order (without a paper receipt) directly to them.
We want all of our customers to be 100% satisfied with their purchase and we work everyday towards meeting that goal. Please contact us if you are not satisfied with your coffee purchase in anyway; if it arrives damaged; or if it is lost in transit; we will either replace the shipment or refund your entire purchase amount.