When you next find yourself jet setting around the world, as you pass through the remote Pacific, do not miss the opportunity to explore the little known coffee-producing Hamakua District of the Big Island of Hawaii. Situated along the island's northeast side, opposite the better known Kona region, this area boasts a coffee growing tradition that dates back to the middle 1800s. With only 120 acres of land dedicated to the bean's cultivation, and farms ranging only from five to seven acres in size, Hamakua produces some of the world's rarest regional varietal joe.
According to Hawaiian coffee lore, an American missionary originally introduced the product to Hamakua, where it was grown for decades on small family plots for personal use. In the late 1800s, seeing some commercial potential in the coveted beans, larger farming operations--one covering 1,000 acres--brought in additional seed stock from Guatamala and took regional production to a new level. A large fire in 1901 destroyed much of the forest and agricultural land in the area, which reverted to pasture and, later, became known for sugar cane production.
The closure of the last sugar mill operation in 1994 and growing interest in diversifying land use in the district sparked a coffee renaissance in Hamakua; by 2001, thirteen farms were in operation. Wild coffee plants, ancestors of the first arabica to come ashore, can still be seen along the road when driving around Hamakua.
Modern Hamakua coffee farms, located between 350 and 2,800 feet above sea level on the slopes of the one-million-year-old Mauna Kea volcano, enjoy deep, rich topsoil and climate conditions that differ dramatically from Kona, giving their products a unique terroir. "Hints of chocolate," "smooth finish," and "exceptionally rich taste" are just some of the accolades often used to describe this rare brew.
If you would like to learn more about how our coffee selections fit into the world coffee scene, please contact us.