This is a little late, but we hope you are having a good new year. Here in Kona it has been colder in the past few weeks than it has been for several years. This is a relief after 2 hot
el nino years. El nino makes for warmer than normal ocean and air temperatures here in Hawaii.
We had excellent rains in November and December and we have already had a first coffee bloom. More blooms should come with the spring rains, and we expect to have a much larger harvest this fall.
Our website has not been functioning for perhaps a week. We contacted the web host and, though it was struggle, our meager website is again functioning.
We apologize to those who tried to order and were unable to do so.
Actually we started a month ago and are well into the new harvest; however, this first
coffee will not be available until sometime in November. We like to age our coffee for
a minimum of 60 days prior to roasting, and more is better! Aging brings out the full
‘Kona’ flavor which I’ve yet to find in other coffees. Prior to aging, our coffee has
a bright fresh flavor which is very drinkable, but not quite what we want to present.
In that regard, one might compare it to various wines which definitely change over time.
Coffee can get too old also, so we want to sell our newly harvested beans by the end of
the following year.
We are having a modest harvest this season. This is due to heavy trimming or cutting
back of the trees which needed to be done after last year’s good harvest. This year
has seen abundant rain and those trees which are bearing have a large crop of well
developed beans. This might seem strange to some; however, we do not have the ability
to irrigate. Our trees are totally dependent on the rain which nature provides. In that
regard, Kona is blessed as the normal rainfall pattern is light afternoon showers daily
throughout the coffee bean growing cycle.
We’ve just had yet another new customer say that ours is the best of all the Konas.
We have to wonder if he has been buying direct from Kona or rather from some
mainland coffee roaster. We appreciate the compliment. Our claim is only that we produce
very good Kona coffee. The best guarantee that you are buying real Kona
is to buy direct from a small Kona coffee farmer!
We are now selling Kona Prime coffee, first on Ebay and now on our website.
Previously, we sold only our 100% Kona estate grade coffee. Thus we
feel an explanation is in order for you, our loyal customers.
A few years ago, a horrible coffee pest, la broca or coffee bean borer arrived in Kona. It
rapidly spread throughout the district, and it is safe to say that all Kona coffee farms
now have this pest. To control la broca, we mist the developing coffee beans every 2 or 3 weeks with a diluted and nontoxic fungus preparation. The fungus, which was endemic
to Kona, only kills borers which have not completely entered the coffee beans. Once la broca is inside the bean, the fungus does not reach them. Thus the need for frequent spraying during the March through September time period. Unchecked la broca totally destroys the coffee bean.
We are unable to achieve 100% control of la broca. The net result of this is that we
now run our green beans through a sorter which separates the beans into 4 grades.
The first, or most dense beans are estate grade. This is about 80% of our product.
The second grade, about 10%, is prime grade. This is still very good coffee,
although it has a slightly lower density than estate grade. The 3rd and 4th grades
contain broca damaged and offgrade beans and are discarded.
Are you still with me? I hope so!
So we recently decided to market the prime beans, albeit at a lower price. We suspect
that other cheaper coffees which claim to be 100% Kona are indeed this prime grade,
OR LOWER! And if they do not use the term, 100% KONA, then it is very likely that
they are a blend of Kona and other coffees from wherever.
Prime beans will be available while we have them. Please note that quantities are limited.
Well, no exclamation for that one; however, we have decided that we need
to pass on the cost increases that we have suffered in the last year.
Recently we have been hit with a substantial increase in
our shipping charges, which pretty much covers our new higher prices. Also,
our workers, mostly pickers, have demanded and received higher payment per
pound of cherry picked for each of the past 3 years. Finally, fertilizer
prices have continued to increase.
So there you have it. Kona coffee is higher priced than most other coffees; however,
our workers earn as much per hour as they may earn per day in most coffee regions,
and our recently increased shipping costs to get our product throughout the 50 states
are from 10 to 20% of the final price depending on the quantity purchased. We are not
complaining. We are just stating ‘how it is’ in the world of Kona coffee farming.
So, regretfully we have raised prices. We hope you understand our situation.
COFFEE CONTINUES TO BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE.
We are thrilled that the long dry spell here in Kona has ended. We are getting
cloud cover almost every afternoon, which is the normal wet season pattern here in
Kona. We have also experienced several light rainfalls which have set into motion
the coffee bloom cycle. The trees are flowering and setting coffee at last.
Coffee is unique in that it will not flower unless water falls onto the plants from above.
For some that means overhead irrigation; however, for most of Kona coffee farmers, it
means that we are dependent on rainfall. No rain means no flowers.
The bad news is that due to the prolonged drought we expect this year’s coffee harvest
to be light and will start later than normal.
Meanwhile we still have available much of last fall’s harvest and expect to have coffee
available throughout this year.
A few of you may have experienced coffee with a little different roast. There was a batch which was roasted to more of a Vienna roast evel which a few of you received. Then we did an experiemental roast which we cut off when the coffee reached a 445 rather than the normal 450 degrees. This resulted in a nutty medium roast which we enjoyed; however, we have gone back to our long preferred medium dark (full city or full city plus according to some experts) roast, and that is what you should expect unless you place a special order for something different.
MAHALO FOR YOUR CONTINUED PATRONAGE. COFFEE IS AVAILABLE NOW.
We hope that you all enjoyed a joyful and peaceful holiday season.
Kona is well into its normal winter dry season. We have not had a significant rain for perhaps 6 weeks. This is fine, and we will not start worrying about it until the end of February. If by then, there is no rain,
we will be worried!
Coffee is a native of Ethiopa, which is a land well known for extensive droughts and famine. The trees are well adapted to survive the dry. In addition, coffee trees only bloom in response to rainfall. IOW, if one irrigated their coffee, with no rain, there would be no flowers. There are a few growers in Kona who actually use overhead sprinklers in an attempt to defy this unique coffee characteristic. The rest of us just wait for the rains to come. With the rain them will come the coffee flowers which with the help of pollinating bees become the next
seasons coffee cherries.
Some years the drought is short and the rains come early. As a result the coffee harvest also comes early. Last year was one such season and we started our coffee
harvest in July and it peaked in October. Most years we start our harvest in late August and the harvest peaks in November at the time of the annual Kona Coffee Festival. We are so busy at that time that we seldom find time to attend the festivities.
So it is dry here. WE CONTINUE TO HAVE COFFEE AVAILABLE FOR SALE. Due to increased postal rates along with pickers demanding increased compensation, we have raised our prices slightly.
A moment to reflect: Coffee harvest is done for the year! We had a good harvest that was unusually early. This was brought on by an early flower and the well above normal amount of rainfall we experienced during the growing season. The rainfall promoted rapid growth and bean development.
The same rain in September caused substantial flood damage to some of the farms in our neighborhood. While we experienced minor flooding in areas, there was no erosion or flood damage on our farm. We attribute this to the fact that we mow our fields and allow ground cover to grow along with the coffee. In this instance, the cover held the dirt and stopped the soil erosion which we would have experienced if we didn’t allow the grass and herbs to grow in competition with our coffee trees.
ABOUT OUR COFFEE! We are gearing up for what should be a very busy holiday season. We expect to be roasting several times a week during this period, and we can normally get your order out within 24 hours. Our coffee makes a great gift that will very likely be consumed and appreciated, fwiw. Our experience is that the postal service always does a great job of getting our priority mailed packages delivered within 3 work days. This
has held right through past Christmas and New Years holidays.
So it’s never too late to order for the holidays! We hope to hear from you soon.
Lots to say. We have had an ‘el nino’ summer with temperatures well above normal for the
months of August, September, and October and perhaps July as well. I forget when it all
Along with the heat we experienced storm after storm. The hurricanes which threatened Hawaii never seemed to get here; however, moisture and lightning associated with the storms arrived again and again. We never had the ‘monster’ wind or rain, but we had repeated 2″ in 24 hour rainfalls. Mauka Kona experienced perhaps 25″ of rain in September alone! This is unlike anything we have previously experienced here in Kona, where 65″ in a year is about normal.
The surprising thing is that the coffee came through this in fine condition. Harvest started in August and has been ongoing ever since. We have a bumper crop of what seems to be very good coffee, the oldest of which we are starting to blend into what remains of last year’s harvest. We enjoyed a few cups of this coffee this morning.
We look forward to hearing from you!
We are back online. We apologize to those who have not been able to access
our website for the past week.
We believe that all our ‘tech’ difficulties are behind us. We still have the same fine coffee
from the 2014-15 fall and winter harvest.
This coffee is now aged to an ideal condition as is ready to go!
We pride ourselves in following the ‘best practices of the modern Kona coffee industry.
We hand pick our crop many times during the season. Each time we pick only the ripe ‘cherries’.
These cherries are then pulped and floated to remove all but the solid beans.
The coffee beans are then sun dried on a solar deck until they have reached the ideal 11% moisture stage.
At that point they are stored in grain storage bags in a cool room until needed.
When needed, this parchment coffee has its outer skin removed and the remaining green
beans are sorted on a gravity sorting machine.
The ‘green’ is then ready to roast and is stored until needed.
So there are many steps in making our coffee the finest product that we can produce.
Mahalo for your support!
Howard & Melody Hill
June 6, 2015
WE ARE BACK FROM OUR ANNUAL R&R. Spring is the best time for us as to travel
as we are between harvests and it is also the slow season for our coffee sales.
And while we live on a beautiful island which we love, we enjoy and benefit from
an occasional getaway.
This is the same fine estate grown Kona coffee that we have been selling
from our 2014 fall & winter harvest.
Good rains continue and we are looking forward to a bigger harvest this year
than for the past several years. We are learning more about the recently arrived
‘la broca’ or bean borer, and have refined our techniques of dealing with it. Thus the
overall quality of our coffee beans continuesto improve. Note that we are doing with
without the use of pesticides on our coffee.