The earliest reference to coffee being grown in Hawaii was a journal entry in 1813 by Don Francisco de Paula Marin. He arrived in Hawaii in either 1793 or '94 aboard the Lady Washington. He became a well known horticulturist and a business adviser to King Kamehameha I. He is the first person to cultivate pineapple and coffee in the Hawaiian islands.
Not a lot is recorded about coffee in Hawaii until twelve years later. In 1823 Chief Boki accompanied King Liholiho, also known as Kamehameha II and ten others on a royal visit to London for an audience with George IV. In an interesting twist of coffee fate the ship they set sail on was an English whaler under Captain Starbuck. Of the twelve who set sail only four returned, the others having succumbed to measles, a disease unknown to the Hawaiian people. Chief Boki was one of the survivors. When he returned in 1825 on the British warship HMS Blonde he carried some Arabica coffee trees to Hawaii. He had acquired the trees in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on his way home. Then in 1828 Reverend Samuel Ruggles also known as 'Keiki' (child) by the Hawaiian people brought some of the trees from the Manoa Valley on Oahu to the Naole area on the Big Island.
This area is now known as the Kona District. These plants thrived and by 1878 Kona was producing 150,194 lbs. of coffee and was listed as the 13th largest coffee production area in the world. Today there are over 6500 acres of coffee under cultivation on all the major Hawaiian Islands with annual production running between 6 and 7 million pounds
The Quintessential Island coffee - Sweet, mild, delicate and clean.
Most of the coffee grown in North and South Kona is cultivated on land owned by Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate (KSBE). Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate leases tracts to more than 600 farmers in the Kona area who produce the majority of the region's coffee, plus macadamia nuts, exotic flowers, avocados, vegetables and fruits. It is the Kona coffee, though, that reigns as monarch of Kona's varied produce. Average size of the farms leased from KSBE is seven acres. In all, more than 1,200 acres of KSBE-owned land are now in Kona coffee production.
Some coffee farms leased from KSBE have been in the same family for four or five generations, since the Estate was created in 1884. The KSBE charitable land trust was created by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha the Great. The majority of the lands she inherited are on the Big Island of Hawaii. Pauahi's husband, banker Charles Reed Bishop, enlarged the land trust when he purchased the West Hawaii ahupuaa of Kaahauloa and Honaunau. (An ahupuaa is the traditional Hawaiian land division, a wedge-shaped parcel stretching from a base along the seashore to a point on the mountain slopes).
Varieties / Processing
Typica / Wet processed