Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Day 15 - Kona Coffee & Mac Nuts
January 26, 2010 - Tuesday - Big Island
I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get the house and the financial stuff back up-to-speed after returning so I am a day behind on new posts. I will be breaking the remaining days into multi-part posts, as I have done in the past, based on the number of photos and commentary. I am not going to number the posts "Part 1 of 3" or whatever as I did before to avoid the need for planning that takes time.
One of our pilgrimages on each visit to the BI (Big Island) is to the Greenwell Farms. Sigrid is the coffee drinker in the family, but I always enjoy visiting their operation. It doesn't look like much but they process 20% of all the Kona Coffee that the world consumes. Besides their own farm, they also process the beans from many of the other smaller growers in Kona who don't want to invest in the equipment themselves. There are a bunch of hobby farms on the slopes in this part of the BI. As it turns out, the money isn't great for a Kona coffee farmer because the land is so expensive and the growing and harvesting process is labor intensive. Labor may be cheap in Columbia, but not on the BI. If you buy what is labeled "Kona Coffee", check the fine print because you are most likely only buying 10% Kona with the rest being from somewhere else. Pure Kona coffee is expensive because there isn't much of it and the cost to produce it are high compared to South American coffee.
They do have a few banana, avocado, and orange trees on the farm.
Coffee fruit ready for picking. All the fruits are picked by hand. Red is ripe and ready.
By crushing the red fruit with your fingers, you reveal the beans inside. Typically, there are two beans inside each fruit. About 10% of the time, there is only one bean. When this occurs, you have a Peaberry bean which has a different taste and is prized by some coffee drinkers.
Once removed from the fruit, the beans must be dried immediately. They tend to ferment rather quickly and that ruins the taste. The photo below shows the sun drying trays that Greenwell uses. The beans are spread out evenly on the dark surface which collects drying warmth from the sun. In the case of rain, the roofs you can see in the photo roll over the trays to keep the moisture off the beans.
This machine is where the red fruit and the bean are separated.
Beans from another farm being processed by Greenwell.
Red fruit waste is used as fertilizer.
We also visited a small Macadamia Nut processing factory just down the street from Greenwell. We go here to buy the chocolate covered nuts in their store. The operations aren't open for tours and really don't look that interesting. We will visit a big Mac nut operation on the other side of the BI in Hilo another day.