If you’ve visited my blog before you know I’m in a committed relationship with coffee. If you’re new to Coffee and Fernweh, welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! When I started planning our family vacation to Hawai’i and Maui, I was incredibly excited to start looking for coffee farms to tour in Kailua-Kona. Hawai’i or The Big Island is home to more than 650 working coffee farms of all sizes. Most of these farms offer a complimentary tour. With so many farms to choose from, where do you start? I’m the only one in my family who is a coffee nerd, and I’m grateful the rest of my family tolerates my addiction. I had to make my choice a good one. I did a lot of research online and on Pinterest. The same farms kept popping up in all of my searches so I narrowed it down as best I could. I even consulted my Lonely Planet Global Coffee Tour book, and then I decided. It had to be Greenwell Coffee Farms.
Before I talk about Greenwell Farms and the tour, let’s talk about Kona coffee. Kona coffee is particular and very expensive, it is grown on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the Kona District. Think of this as the “Kona Coffee Belt” everything outside of this belt is considered “Hawaiian coffee” end of story. Be careful when purchasing Kona coffee, you might actually be purchasing a blend which uses 10% Kona and 90% other foreign beans. If you want the good stuff make sure you see “100% Kona Coffee” on the bag. Kona is an Arabica coffee, wet processed, and sun-dried giving it it’s distinct and unique taste.
GREENWELL COFFEE FARMS
Began in 1850, when Henry Greenwell left England for what is known today as Kona, Hawai’i. He and his wife, Elizabeth, spent the next 40 years farming and producing Kona Coffee. Norman and Thomas Greenwell, the grandson, and great-grandson would continue cultivating and growing Kona coffee in the 1980s making way for the new era of specialty coffee. Today they have 85 acres of coffee orchards, and they control and manage another 60 acres for other landowners. They also grow pepper and other fruits on the farm as well.
Greenwell offers complimentary farm tours every day from 8:30am-4pm. They have a tour every 30 minutes, and the tour itself is about 30 minutes long as well. Depending on the season, you’ll get to see different stages of cherries and learn about each stage of production. For our tour, we were able to get in some of the orchards, I found a few red cherries as well as some green ones just starting out. I also saw some white Jasmin flowers or “Kona Snow” as it is also known. Our tour also leads us to the wet mill and drying platforms where you could smell fermenting coffee. Along the way, you learn about the farm, Kona coffee, the different classifications of Kona, what makes Kona different and unique from other types of coffee, plus the drying and roasting process. After the tour is over you head back to where your tour began to sample some of Greenwell Farm’s coffee, you can also purchase coffee, t-shirts and other local goods.
I really enjoyed this fascinating tour. I was trying to keep the coffee geek in me from coming out too much. I loved seeing the orchards and the cherries on the trees. I didn’t care too much for the medium roast or flavored coffee but enjoyed the dark and espresso roast. They even have a coffee club you can sign up for and have 100% Kona Coffee delivered straight to your door! I actually might sign up for this once I get home. I’m glad this was the farm we ended up visiting, and I highly recommend taking the tour, even if you know nothing about coffee if you ever find yourself on The Big Island.
Have you ever toured a working coffee farm? What other coffee farms should I visit on my next trip to Hawai’i? Let me know in the comments! Mahalo for reading!