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Kona Coffee: From Blossom to Roast

Kona Coffee: From Blossom to Roast

The species of coffee tree planted here is Kona Typica – coffea arabica, identical to the original trees discovered in Ethiopia around 640 AD. You will learn the difference between this specialty tree and the Robusta, grown in Brazil and Vietnam, and the Caturra trees grown on other Hawaiian islands.

Blossoms to Cherries

Kona coffee trees bloom from January through March, in a series of ‘rounds’ of flowers at two-week intervals.

Small white flowers cover the tree and are known as Kona Snow. In April, green berries begin to appear on the trees. By late August, exactly seven months later, the fruit begins to turn red and is called “cherry” because of the resemblance of the ripe berry to a cherry fruit.

Only when the cherries are completely red should they be hand-picked. Since there are several flowerings, harvesting will take place several times between August and January, seven months after each flowering. A large mature tree will produce 20-30 pounds of cherry. It takes seven pounds of cherry to make one pound of roasted coffee.

Picking, Pulping, and Drying 100% Kona Coffee

As you walk through the coffee trees, depending on the season, you may see an array of colors, ranging from green to orange to red.

Sugar, called mucilage, appears only when the beans turn red. The beans inside the cherry skin, develop in different sizes (Extra Fancy, Fancy, Kona No. 1, Prime, and Peaberry) that can be sorted using screens through which only one size passes at a time.

Headline Area

Within a few hours of picking, the cherry is run through our Penagos Pulper, to squeeze the two seeds out of the red skin.

The slippery seeds are then placed in a fermentation tank overnight, to give natural yeast the time to ferment the sugar off the surface.

Beans Drying

After rinsing, the beans are spread to dry on the deck of our traditional hoshidana (drying deck), which has a rolling roof to cover the beans in the event of rain.

It takes 7–14 days to dry the beans to an optimal moisture level of 10-13%. From here, the beans are stored as pergamino, or parchment. The parchment is stored at 65 F and 65% humidity so that the beans do not lose color or become moldy.