Over the years that I have lived here in Kona, I’ve contemplated planting coffee on my property. Not for commercial purpose, just for the love and fascination that I have for the product. A chance to share my own estate grown coffee with family and friends seems like a fun thing to do.
Coffee trees are beautiful in my opinion. The leaf is shiny and geometrically attractive, almost like a holiday plant with its festive visual appeal. Did you know coffee trees produce a delicate white flower that looks similar to jasmine prior to the actual bean? The blossom releases a sweet fragrance reminiscent of spicy vanilla and toasted espresso.
Planting Coffee on the Big Island
In the fall of 2020, I finally committed to digging twenty-five holes and planting some keke plants that I purchased from a coffee farmer in South Kona. A manini (small) little coffee patch of my own to live out my aspirations.
Tending to them with love and an occasional song from time to time, our efforts are paying off. This will be our first harvest and the beans are expected to be ready for picking this July. That’s a bit early according to traditional coffee harvest season but it has a lot to do with the elevation and other factors. Truth be told, I know very little about this new endeavor. I am the kind of guy that dives in and asks questions later when it comes to hobbies. Lucky for me we have a local Farm & Garden store not far and the folks there have helped put me on track many times with the proper dos and don’ts of gentleman farming.
I’m not a total stranger to farm life. One of our properties where Audrey and I built our first home was previously owned by a woman from Thailand. She propagated over thirty varieties of fruits (no coffee) on that one-acre lot and we kept every one of them intact as best we could. Incredible fruits, many of which I had never heard of before and learned to enjoy for the years we had that home. I remember having my morning cereal topped with a variety of pineapple, banana, mango and anything else that was ripe and ready at the time. All homegrown and never tasted sweeter.
Growing Kona Coffee
Growing coffee and getting it ready to enjoy a fresh brew does not come easy. Keeping the plants healthy is a challenge all on its own. Disease, insects, and weather are all the usual farming challenges one must contend with every day. Try it and you will quickly have a deeper appreciation for your local growers and farmers around the world. The harvest process is no easy task either. Each coffee cherry is handpicked at peak ripeness, carefully pulling from the cluster of other beans not quite ready yet. Yes, you will be back for those. The next phase is one I will not take on by myself. Preparing the bean for roasting is a painstaking event if you don’t have the equipment. First, you need to remove the bean from the fruit. Soaking overnight to loosen for separation will help but doing the removing process by hand ?? Not for me. Then comes rinsing the beans. Next is the drying process. Again, best for a professional with the proper equipment to handle. Once the bean is dry you then need to remove the parchment that the bean is naturally wrapped in. I’m tired already just thinking about all this processing. Your prized beans are ready for roasting! Some might say, “But Ed .. you’re missing out on half the fun of growing and producing your own coffee.” I say I need to spend my time in the real estate market linking buyers and sellers together for their own dream properties and investments.
I’m an early riser with the help of my buddy “Rooty” the rooster. It helps me juggle all of the daily tasks of my real estate business, gentleman’s farm, and getting the most of my day. As a mahalo to our colorful feathered pal for the wakeup call, I designed the label for my Private Reserve-Not For Sale coffee that will debut this fall. I’m also a bit of a rocker so hence the name on the label. Life is a series of choices, I feel so lucky that Audrey and I have chosen to Live Hawaii.