A few photos from the Ho’olaule’a

Here are a few more images from the coffee festival’s Ho’olaule’a.  There was a lot more to see & this isn’t representative of all that’s there; these are just photos I like.


By the way, in time for the holidays, we have a new gift pack available:  Two pounds of coffee in a Hawaiian lauhala box.  

Thanksgiving for a coffee legacy

The coffee festival’s Ho’olaule’a, a day-long celebration of Kona coffee and its cultural heritage, was held at the Old Airport pavilion on Saturday.  The community comes together, and you get a little of everything — music, entertainment, food, coffee tasting, vendors, ikebana, leis, activities, and exhibits.

I liked the exhibit in this photo, which shows a mill and the traditional hoshidana, a sun deck for drying parchment coffee, with a roof on wheels that can quickly cover the drying deck in case of rain.  On the model, imagine that roof on poles on the left rolling over the middle section with the “do not touch” sign.  The parchment would’ve been spread in a thin layer & periodically raked to dry the beans in that “do not touch” area.

When we were young, our grandpa’s brother & his wife (our mom’s aunt & uncle) lived across from our grandparents in a house with a hoshidana roof.  (Our cousins have since built a modern house where that house with hoshidana used to be.)  Our grandparents & their kids used to grow & pick coffee and process it to the point of dried parchment.  They didn’t process it further, i.e., dry mill or roast coffee.

This time of year, celebrating the harvest, this exhibit and the text that I copied below, remind me of our family’s own hoshidana and our family’s history.  This is the first year of the Bea’s Knees Farm business and offering roasted estate coffee.  It’s a personal Thanksgiving, not one of pilgrims, Native Americans and East Coast farm harvest as depicted in typical Thanksgiving images.  I feel very deep gratitude to my ancestors and especially my extended family that I’ve personally known and interacted with.  There have been so many people that have worked this coffee land, the ‘aina  — my grandparents, great-uncle and -aunt, mom, aunts & uncles, cousins, and non-relatives.  I bow to them all in gassho.

Information provided near the exhibit, by the Kona Historical Society:

Coffee farming was a family affair.  Many family coffee farms were farmed primarily by a family comprised of two parents and 5 to 11 children.  Having labor in the form of farm “hands” as was common on the North American continent during this period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, or having ranch hands, as was common in Kona’s ranching community, was less common on Kona’s coffee farms.  With the exception of lease-tenants, whereby tenant families would help their landlords bring in the coffee cherry during harvest, the farms were primarily planted, fertilized, picked, and milled and maintained by the family itself.

Japanese families, Hawaiian families, families of European descent and other nationalities such as Filipino immigrants, Portuguese and others all became a vital part of the Kona Coffee farming community.  Many early immigrants either worked or purchased themselves out of restrictive plantation work “contracts” and came to Kona to lease and farm coffee and build better, more autonomous lives for themselves.  Although the work was arduous, from dawn to nightfall, it was rewarding and it was theirs to develop with their families.

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival; Roasting small batches by hand

We are now several days into the ten-day Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.  The Holualoa Village Coffee and Art Stroll took place before the official festival.  I think it’s a lot of fun, but just like wine tasting, I find it hard to taste and spit.  Tasting a lot of wine, you get drunk; tasting a lot of coffee, you get truly wired.  It’s a great opportunity to talk to the farmers and taste coffees from different farms all in one place.  We’ve discovered some delicious coffee from small family farms.

Our coffee is roasted to order and shipped the same day.  We use a fluid bed (versus a drum) roaster.  Our roaster can roast 6.5-10 pounds of green coffee, resulting in approximately 5-8 pounds of roasted coffee.  Each batch, depending on its roast profile (& whether it’s peaberry or not) takes about 8-10 minutes.  This is a very hands-on process!

To see the photo sequence below with larger images, click on the first photo, and then use the arrows.


Coffee available starting on Halloween


The shop is open!  Bea’s Knees Farm roasted coffee is for sale!

We are very excited to offer estate coffee from the Murata family farm for the very first time.

Roasting and shipping will start on Halloween.  Roasting and same-day shipping will usually be on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Try it and let us know what you think.

Coffee Processing, from Coffee Cherry to Green Coffee

Why does it take so long to go from picked fruit to roasted coffee?  What’s happening to Bea’s Knees Farm’s coffee?

The same day the red coffee cherry gets picked, it is delivered to the wet mill.  Three layers surround the coffee bean, which is really a seed.   From outside to inside are the cherry skin, the mucilage, and the parchment.  The pulper extracts the beans which then go into a fermenting and rinsing tank to remove the remaining mucilage. 

Parchment drying naturally under a covered deck.
Parchment is raked to help with even drying.

The beans then go to an area where they’re spread out to dry under a covered sun deck and are periodically turned.  Later the beans get mechanically finish-dried to a specific moisture content for quality consistency.  The beans are still inside a thin, paper-like husk, and the beans are referred to as parchment coffee, or parchment, at this stage.

Up to now, the beans have been dried from the outside of the bean, in.  By letting the coffee rest at this parchment stage, the moisture gets a chance to equalize throughout the bean.  The parchment rests in a light-, temperature- and humidity-controlled area. How long it rests is another one of those tweak-able variables.  Most of the moisture probably equalizes in a matter of days, but some people like it to rest a minimum of 60 days.

Next is dry milling.  The parchment, like a paper husk, is removed and also another thin layer underneath that, the silver skin.  What remains looks like, and is called, green coffee beans.  This is what gets graded based on bean type (peaberry or regular), size, moisture content, and processing defects according to standards defined by Hawaii state laws.  Green coffee is what gets sold on the international market.  That’s what the commercial roasters, your neighborhood roasters, or you roast.

Green coffee is very porous and easily absorbs moisture and flavors.  Again, careful storage is important.  Light, temperature, humidity, and oxygen exposure must be controlled.

I’ve tried to keep the description brief, but you have to keep in mind that there is worldwide research done and variables in almost every single step from growing coffee to the point of you drinking your cup of delicious coffee.  You personally might already have been experimenting with all the ways to brew coffee, and maybe you’ve tried various roasts and/or roasters of coffee from the same region, or maybe you even home-roast your coffee.  Here I’ve just mentioned some of the steps prior to roasting and brewing.

Whatever coffee you drink, when you hold your morning cup of coffee and take your first sip, you might occasionally pause and mindfully reflect with gratitude about all that’s involved.