Having my Kona Coffee and Eating It Too…

By  |  1 Comment

It was happening again. You know the feeling; hot flashes, shortness of breath, hair standing up on the back of your head, swallowing a lot. No silly, I’m not talking about getting ready to hurl, I’m talking about the urge to make a mad dash for adventure. No time for fretting over the arch of your eyebrows with so much to uncover. You can’t blame a gal for leaving bean counters for bean growers now can you? With just hours before a black tie dinner party on The Big Island of Hawaii, a rental car appeared from thin air. Freedom from the resort at last! Look, I promised to take you from Kona Coffee to Karl Lagerfeld in the blink of an eye and a promise is a promise…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Although I am more of a tea girl, I was intrigued about Kona Coffee. ( I grew up with the combination of parents cigarette smoke and Maxwell House coffee each day – eeww). Sure it’s known to rev up those engines first thing in the morning but what makes it so special? First, a bit of history. We’ve all heard the story about some goat herder in Ethiopia. He awoke in the middle of the night to find his goats acting like they had just snorted a line of cocaine. The goat’s odd behavior evoked the curiosity of the goat herder.  The next day, the herder watched over the goats like a hawk to discover the foreign plant with berries that the goats were eating from. Curious, the herder devoured a few and found himself dancing the disco like John Travolta into the wee hours of the night with the goats – drug-free! A wandering monk passing by took notice of this midnight frenzy and inquired. You can imagine what happened next. Word got out, the precious berries spread like wild-fire and Starbucks was born. Not necessarily in that particular order…

The drive to Kona was filled with love notes on the sides of the road. Little white corals spelled out messages on the black lava crumble: ‘Roco Loves Robert’, ‘“Joe and Sandie Forever”– say what? After a quick 45 minute drive south of Kona Airport, Kona Joe Coffee is one of the first coffee plantations you’ll see on the Hawaiian coffee belt. With breathtaking blues of the Pacific, Kona Joe Coffee is patented and grown organically free of herbicides and pesticides. Factors like high elevation ( 3,200 feet), lack of wind, hand picking weeds and hand picking beans for cultivation at peak ripeness combine to create a gourmet cup that coffee lovers savour. Combine the trellis growth with the climate, add in hand picking and gentle roasting and you’ve got a coffee that is outstanding. My tour included the dry milling room, color sorting area, roasting machines and bagging processing areas. Award winning Trellis Grown Medium sells for $78.95 per pound which is grown using the same techniques as the world’s finest wine makers. There’s a coffee bar with a nice view of their farm and don’t even get me started on the Kona covered coffee beans (perfect for those days when you’re an edgy, hormonal surging stress machine stalking for chocolate)!

Bottom line is if you suddenly have a hankering for a great cup of organic coffee, this is the place. Kona Joe ain’t your 50-cent cup of coffee my friends and once you step foot on this gorgeous sun-kissed Lani you won’t want to return to the mainland. (They had a donkey crossing sign, but no donkey in sight. Didn’t they know I needed a picture for my blog?)

Next stop was Greenwell Farms Coffee on Mamalahoa Highway.
The family legacy began in 1850 when Henry Nicholas Greenwell left England and first set foot on the fertile soil of rural Kona. Together with his wife, Henry spent the next forty years farming, ranching and perfecting his Kona Coffee, exporting it to Europe and the Americas. In 1873, the President of the Kaiser’s Exposition awarded the Greenwell’s a “Recognition Diploma” for their Kona Coffee at the World’s Fair in Vienna, Austria. This guy had vision!

My tour here included every detail about what goes into running a coffee farm. Did you know when the coffee bean reaches a red color that is an indicator of maturity and it’s ready to be harvested?  Color is also an indicator of the degree in which beans are roasted.  After beans have been dried to even moisture content right for storing, the beans are separated into grades by their size, shape, and color. The beans are all hand-processed and sun-dried bursting with flavor. The scent from the roasting process was intoxicating. Greenwell followed an old Japanese method of drying rice on raised beds to separate the bean from the outer layers of the cherry.  They roast the coffee beans according to their grade calling the largest beans ‘Extra Fancy’, labeling them with big words like ‘Estate’ and ‘Private Reserve’. Fancy Schmancy! Not only are you getting one of the very finest coffee’s grown and produced on this planet, you are also supporting a very hard-working family owned and operated U.S. company – and hey, we like that. This spot is perfect for those who wish to take their caffeine jolts to go too. Lola the farm dog was happy to pose for the blog. (That’s ok Lola, don’t get up sweetie).

Darn, my time was up and I couldn’t be late for a coconut cocktail at the black-tie dinner reception or Husband would have my head in a block. Upon leaving Greenwell Farm I  discovered a mini fridge in the corner with little red bottles behind a glass door. It was a shot drink called KonaRedwhich is made from coffee cherries and has aggressive amounts of antioxidants and makes one feel like Superwoman on a magic carpet ride. I simply had to have some. Oh baby, that magic potion cured my sniffles and killed my hangover from the night before let me tell you…



1 Comment

  1. Lisa Padgalskas

    August 29, 2013 at 3:27 am

    YOu are soooo fun Sandie…. and we LOVE our Kona Macademia Nut Coffee… Rick orders it straight from da islands!

With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

%d bloggers like this: