8.05.2011

Feature Friday: Kona Coffee


Kona Coffee is hands down the best coffee in the world and as with most good things, is one of the priciest (but well worth it). I love coffee but I am definitely not a coffee connoisseur. No, I am the one you see masking that bitter coffee taste with lots of french vanilla creamer until the liquid turns a nice creamy color. I have to say though, after my tour at Greenwell Farms in Kona, Hawaii, I have a whole new view on coffee. I suppose you could say I am slowly turning into one of those coffee snobs (but I am still using the creamer).


Greenwell Farms is the largest Kona coffee producer in the Kona Coffee belt and sells their coffee to big name brands like Starbucks. After my tour was over I began to understand why Kona coffee is as pricey as it is; it's a long and mostly hand done process. The first interesting thing we were told was that the Kona coffee bean is in fact the seed of a cherry and the trees that these cherries grow on our related to the deliciously smelling gardenia plant. 
While most coffee cherries are picked by machine, Greenwell Farms hand picks only the ripest cherries for their coffee. This eliminates any immature berries from getting into your coffee or any other inferior beans from contaminating the coffee. Harvesters can typically pick 200 - 400 lbs of coffee cherry a day. While we were there, the cherries were not ripe for picking which is why they are such a vibrant green and not red.
Since the seed of the cherry is all that is needed to make the coffee, the remaining cherry portion is separated  and was once thrown out. However, this "waste" has recently been found to be the most powerful antioxidant containing fruit in the world. These cherries have been made into a deliciously sweet fruit drink, called KonaRed. This drink helps us receive all the amazing benefits of the superfruit. I tried the KonaRed drink while I was at the farm and it was very tasty so I was excited when I found it in a gourmet grocery store when I got home. You can also order it online here
Above is what the seed of the coffee cherries (the coffee beans) look like. They have a thin layer of parchment around the bean which is peeled away after they have been dried out. The bean pictured in the middle is what the bean looks like once the parchment has been peeled away. The bean to the left is a peaberry, or in other words a bean that hasn't been split. These beans are extra sweet and are made into their very own special coffee blend.

With their parchment layer still on, the beans are set on top of a large flat platform to dry out.
Since Kona typically always receives rain in the late afternoon, a sliding roof is pulled over the beans to protect them from getting wet. 
There are a few other steps to producing the perfect Kona coffee, which honestly I forgot, but I can tell you that I not only saw firsthand what it takes to make phenomenal coffee but I tasted it too. At the end of our tour we sampled several different coffee flavors and while they were all good, my favorites were the Chameleon Blend and the Chocolate Macadamia Nut. We brought home with us the Chameleon Blend and I have been thoroughly enjoying it every morning. I even gave it to a friend who doesn't like coffee and they said that they would become a coffee drinker if all coffee tasted like that. Now that the coffee beans are running low at home I will have to order some more online and you should too. 

FYI: If you don't buy your Kona coffee from Greenwell Farms, just be sure that the coffee label says 100% Kona coffee. If it doesn't say 100%, it's not true Kona coffee you are tasting. A lot of coffee brands sell a 10% Kona and remaining Hawaiian coffee blend which is tasty but not the same. 


All Images: Love.Inspire.Create

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