About > From the Tree to the Cup
Organic Farming and Our Kona Coffee Trees
Our family-owned Kona coffee plantation is located on the volcanic slopes in Captain Cook,
Hawaii. We currently have 80 acres of Kona coffee and farm-manage an additional 300 acres.
The specific varietal of coffee tree that we plant and care for is called Arabica Typica.
Our coffee grows on the leeward side of Mauna Loa volcano at approximately 2,600 feet and
because of this high elevation location; we continually produce a larger percentage of the
highest and most preferred grades of Kona coffee.
We employ organic farming practices to foster the ideal conditions for the trees to grow.
First, the trees are planted in rich, fertile volcanic soil combined with a blend of
natural nutrients and minerals. Each year, we selectively prune each tree to strengthen
them and to encourage a larger production and facilitate harvesting. The pruned branches
become the mulch, which helps hold moisture and deter weeds.
Of equal importance, three to
four times a year we fertilize using a combination of traditional methods and the cherry
skins, a by-product of the wet-milling process, to naturally fertilize and nourish our
trees. Likewise, we use the husks (a by-product of dry-milling) around the trees that also
provide nutrients to the soil as well as deter weed growth.
Hand-picking our Kona Coffee Beans
We selectively hand-harvest each coffee cherry at their peak of ripeness. With handpicking,
we are able to choose only the ripe cherries and the trees are not damaged in any way.
Not only does handpicking make coffee cultivation more labor intensive in Kona than in
most other coffee growing regions in the world but also because coffee blossoms appear
over a several month period due Kona's steady rainfall and different elevations. That
is, coffee cherries ripen at varying times causing our typical Kona harvest season to
extend from August to April. We continually explore our farms seeking ripe cherries up
to eight times in a season to allow the beans to mature before picking.
Once the coffee cherries have been picked, they must undergo processing to remove the outer
layers of the skin and expose the coffee beans inside. When the coffee cherries arrive at
our mill, they are always inspected for freshness and color before being sent into the
cherry pulper, processing occurs within hours of their arrival. The pulper machine has
rotating discs that remove the pulp (outer skin) by squeezing the cherry until the skin
splits. The machine separates the beans and the pulp and protects the parchment
(a thin protective membrane protecting the bean). It is these outer skins that are used to
fertilize our trees. In 2002, we became the first farm in Kona to use a revolutionary
wet-processing system from Columbia that is ecologically and environmentally efficient
by lessening water usage (average of 80%) and contamination of our water supply. We
believe that this new process contributed to our winning of the 2002 Kona Cupping Contest.
After our wet-mill process, we use a new and sophisticated combination drying system to
insure quality and enhance the bean flavor. First, the beans are carted out onto our drying
deck to be sun dried. Specifically, beans are spread out on a flat platform known by its
Japanese name, hoshidana, and exposed to the sun. Our beans are shifted and raked often for
uniform drying by the sun. Since Kona experiences many cloudy days, which could alter the
profile of the bean, we also employ special mechanical dryers from Central and South America.
When the beans are dried and reach certain moisture content (11.5%-12%), the coffee is
called "parchment coffee", due to their stiff, white parchment-like skin.
The next step in the milling process after drying is called dry milling. At this stage, we
remove the parchment and silver-skin, leaving the beans without any other protective
coating called "green beans." Our dry mill utilizes several machines that take the coffee
from parchment to green bean. First, the huller is the machine that removes the parchment
skin from the actual beans. Next, the green beans are placed in the sorter to be sized.
This process separates the beans into different grades of Kona coffee. The primary grades
of Kona coffee are Peaberry, Extra Fancy, Fancy, #1, Select and Prime. Next, the beans of
each specific grade/size are placed on the gravity table (See Kona Coffee Grading). Density
is directly proportional to the quality of the bean. The gravity machine ensures that the
denser beans rise to the top of the table while the lower denser beans fall to the bottom.
This allows us to find the gems in our coffee and offer the best to our customers. We then
package the beans in one hundred pound bags to be state certified (See Kona Coffee Grading)
Both our parchment and green bean are stored in temperature and humidity controlled rooms.
This preserves the ideal flavor profile of the green coffees. We have found that coffee
stored outside of climate and humidity control rooms begin to fade in color, lose its
acidity, flatten out and lose its original flavor profile.
Roasting is one of the factors that distinguishes the individual characteristics of Kona
Coffee. Our 100% pure Kona Coffee is meticulously roasted and packaged while still warm
from the oven in protective foil bags which are specifically designed to prevent the
entrance of air and moisture. We roast to order so that coffee arrives within just days
of being roasted. When you open a bag of Kona Coffee from our plantation, our hope is that
you experience the taste and aroma that Prize winning Kona coffee is known for and you will
be back again and again.
Kona Coffee is renowned for its rich flavor, exceptional aroma, smooth taste and delicate
acidity. To achieve this, our preferred roast is a Full City Roast. The beans are roasted
more deeply than a medium roast to bring out the maximum body without roasting out the
specific characteristics inherent from the microclimate from where it is grown.
We stop the
roast at the beginning of the second crack to produce beans that are chestnut brown with a
slight shimmer of oils on the surface. We also offer custom roasts, recognizing the
distinguished coffee palates of our customers.
With our passion for Kona coffee excellence, we offer you our award winning Kona coffee
that is consistently smooth with a rich, well-balanced flavor - the Finest Coffee in the
Enjoy, from all of us at Koa Coffee Plantation
» Extra fancy? Prime? Learn about coffee grading
» Visit our online coffee store!