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Coffee farming is hard work and a difficult business. During the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th Century, Kona coffee farmers only had two major milling companies that would buy kona coffee beans from them: Captain Cook Coffee Co. and H. Hackfeld & Co., Ltd. (the predecessor of American Factors – Amfac).
To survive financially, many coffee farmers diversified the crops they grew and by the 1930’s, farms started to grow macadamia trees as well as coffee.
The first coffee farm cooperative, Kona Coffee Cooperation(KCC), formed in 1955. Pacific Coffee Cooperative (PCC) formed after that as well as others, allowing local coffee farmers group representation in the marketplace.
Eva Knutson presented the idea of marketing coffee like wine in 1978, and after that, specialty Kona Coffee became generally defined by farm, region and harvest.
Most of the coffee grown in Kona is harvested between July and December, and most of the small mills that process the raw coffee cherries open to full operation during this period each year. The coffee processed at these mills comes from many different coffee farms in the Kona area. The freshly picked coffee cherry is carried to the mill inside large burlap sacks and purchased by the pound according to industry standards. An average picker on a coffee farm can pick between 100-300 pounds a day depending on the time of season.
In the 180 years or so that Kona Coffee has been grown on the Island of Hawai’i, coffee farmers have elevated the science of coffee farming to its highest levels. A healthy, vibrant coffee orchard isn’t possible without careful attention to planting techniques. Today’s successful coffee farmer uses special pruning and planting methods along with specialized nutrients to grow an orchard that produces larger and healthier coffee beans. The most productive farms are laid out in ways that use every square foot of land to its best purpose, even considering the sun’s direction to how the coffee rows are designed.
The Kona Coffee industry is made up of hundreds of independent farmers – some are entrepreneurial newcomers who have settled in Hawai’i; others are descendants of families that have grown coffee for generations.
Kona Coffee is known globally for its rich flavor due, largely, to the unique growing conditions of the Kona Coffee plant. A large tourism niche has grown up around Kona Coffee and the visiting of Kona’s Coffee Farms. No matter which Kona Coffee Farm you decide to visit, you’ll be offered a warm rich cup of Kona’s best when you arrive.