Our online shop has coffee for sale again! Our first harvest was a little earlier than last year’s, but somehow the coffee got milled around the same time, close to Halloween.
We thank those of you who supported us in our first full year of coffee sales, helping us to sell out in August. Now we’re on to year two! We should have more coffee to sell this year. Your support and help could be the obvious — buying our coffee, reviewing our coffee — but also just helping us get the word out that we exist and sell coffee.
If you’re interested, we’re roasting peaberry on November 4.Contact us, if interested in ordering. Pricing is $45 (16 oz bag), $25 (8 oz bag), and $14 (4 oz pouch). We’ll send you an invoice via PayPal.
This journey has been quite a learning experience. Thank you!
We are oh-so-close to having roasted coffee to sell. The dry mill we and many others use is operating 24 hours, 7 days a week now. We should have coffee available this week, but I don’t feel comfortable changing our website from “out of stock” until I know we can fulfill orders.
A brief processing overview: We wash process (wet mill) our coffee the day red cherries are picked. And there are multiple pickings over four or five months. After wet milling we have parchment. Our first big picking’s parchment has been drying for a little over two months. Now we’re ready for dry milling that, the result of which will be green beans. Our coffee is stored in green bean form waiting for you to order roasted coffee.
This page from the National Coffee Association offers a concise 10-step overview of the journey a typical coffee seed makes, from coffee seed to seedling to what we drink. I’ve made a few notes below, details regarding Bea’s Knees Farm coffee for each of NCA’s steps.
Grandpa used to find his own young volunteer trees that sprouted from seedlings, and plant them as needed, e.g., when a mature tree died or was under-performing. The volunteers tended to be near rock walls, where beans/seeds would fall and not get picked up.
These are some volunteer coffee seedlings in my mom’s pot. Please follow the delicate stems from the right side of the photo. (1) This is a coffee seed starting to sprout. (2) This seedling can already be transplanted since it has its second set of leaves. The second set are its “real” leaves and looks like the commonly seen coffee leaves. (3) This seedling only has its first set of leaves.
Nowadays, for replacements we would not use these pulapulas (coffee seedlings pulled from the ground). We use young grafted Kona Typica trees from a nursery. The root stock is semi-nematode resistant, and the tree will likely live longer than a non-grafted tree. Coffee root-knot nematodes are another problem Grandpa didn’t have to deal with.
(2) Harvesting the Cherries
We have several harvests and we selectively pick. Last year we had 7 flowerings, 3 selective pickings from early September through mid-November, and one final strip pick by hand. The strip pick is done to control coffee borer beetle, and wasn’t good quality and didn’t go into our estate coffee.
(3) Processing the Cherries
We use the wet method (also described as washed). The parchment ferments overnight before drying.
(4) Drying the Beans
Our beans are sun-dried, then finish-dried in a dryer. At this point, the beans have been dried from the outside of the bean, in. By letting the coffee rest at the 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.
Grading … (school nightmares, anyone?). Being evaluated and sized up. Deceiving! Cheating! Small guys taking on the big guys. These are the themes of this post.
In one of my recent posts I showed a photo of off-grade coffee and mused, “Who uses this stuff?” And what do they label their coffee?
Grading coffee is regulated by the state of Hawaii Department of Agriculture according to size, shape, and number of defects in each bean. It’s like a coffee bean beauty contest that happens during the dry milling stage. This one page summary from the HDOA details the grades. This photo shows what the certification label, here Kona Prime, looks like. This is another company’s coffee, not ours.
Our estate Kona coffee contains (from best to worst grades): Extra Fancy, Fancy, Number 1, and Prime altogether in the ratios we get when we harvest. We don’t yet have a large enough quantity of beans to offer specific individual grades, though we do separate out the peaberry. The lowest grade in the system is Hawaii Number 3, and the Kona label is not allowed to be used with that. Below #3 is off-grade, and coffee at that level can’t be labeled with Hawaii in the name.
Coffee products with less than 100% Kona coffee must be labeled Kona blend. There must be at least 10% Kona coffee by weight. Who can really tell if there’s 10% Kona coffee in a Kona blend? And for those who want to use that Kona blend label, they are most likely not putting in much more than 10% of Kona coffee in the product. They usually market the heck out of Kona in the name, and it’s often difficult to discover what the other 90% is.
I’m finally getting to the recent news that prompted this post. “Three Kona coffee farmers have sued the world’s biggest retailers and several coffee suppliers for allegedly flooding the market with fake Kona coffee.” These are the numbers they mention in the suit:
• 2.7 million pounds of Kona coffee grown annually
• 20 million-plus pounds of Kona coffee sold to consumers
Hmmm. It just can’t add up. I’ll definitely be following this case …
What is peaberry? It’s a natural mutation of the coffee seed inside the coffee fruit. What we drink comes from the coffee fruit seed. Normally one fruit contains two seeds, similar to two parts of a peanut, with the flat sides abutting. But in about 5% of the fruit, which is true for our farm, the fruit contains just one whole, round seed, which is denser than the normal coffee seeds. You can’t tell from the fruit which fruit contains peaberry. It gets revealed during processing.
During dry milling, we sort out the peaberry from the regular coffee. Because peaberry is smaller and denser, they roast differently than regular coffee. It takes a little longer to roast peaberry, and it has a different flavor. Some people think they taste sweeter, more flavorful, and better. You have to decide for yourself. We don’t have much of this, so it’s not listed in our Shop products, and it costs more since we have considerably less. Contact us if you’re interested in buying green peaberry or roasted peaberry.