Kona Coffee Plantation Tours on The Big Island of Hawaii
by Val Tobin
Originally published December 14, 2010 on Suite101
Republished on SNGS December 3, 2013
There are many coffee plantations in Hawai'i, the best-known being those found in Kona. Kona coffee is renowned for its high quality, and this distinguishes Kona coffee from much of the competition. While there are other great coffees on the market, and many are from other parts of the Big Island or from the other Hawaiian Islands, Kona coffee has a long-standing reputation for excellence.
Many of the estates in the Kona coffee belt welcome visitors, allow visitors to tour the facilities, and provide free tastings of their rich, flavorful coffees. Certainly all the estates have rich, aromatic coffees, but the other thing they all have in common is a passion for their products, and employees who take pride in what they do.
When in Hawai'i, I visited a number of Kona coffee companies to sample their products and tour their facilities. The following three particularly impressed me with their excellent products and friendly and knowledgeable staff. They are all family-owned, and have a commitment to quality, as well as a passion for coffee.
Hula Daddy Kona Coffee
Hula Daddy is my personal favorite source for Kona Coffee. The coffee is excellent (it has awards that vouch for it), their tour guides are warm and friendly, and they have an impressive, modern, and clean system for processing the coffee beans that makes one appreciate the effort that goes into each cup of coffee brewed from their beans. They are not certified organic, but I was told that they follow organic practices as much as possible.
Hula Daddy has played host to Dog the Bounty Hunter and they have photos of the visit on their website. After tasting the Hula Daddy coffee, I can understand why Dog would want to fuel up at Hula Daddy. Their Private Reserve coffee is quite accurately described on an Intuit blog as "a taste of heaven in a cup."
Besides tastings and tours, Hula Daddy has a coffee club, so that you can receive an automatic shipment of your favorite Hula Daddy coffees every 30, 45 or 60 days. When ordering through the coffee club, you receive a 10% discount on all products in the order. You can order online, so if you don't want to carry coffee away with you, you can have it shipped directly from Hula Daddy. To keep up with the latest Hula Daddy news, sign up for their newsletter.
Kona Coffee & Tea Company
The Kona Coffee & Tea Company offers a wide range of products, in addition to the coffee and tea referenced in the company name. Their retail outlet is conveniently located next to Hawaii Forest and Trail. This allows you to visit the coffee shop while waiting for your tour to depart, depending on scheduling.
The staff at the Kona Coffee & Tea Company retail outlet are friendly and knowledgeable, and a virtual tour of the farm is available via a video. The smell of roasting coffee entices you to try their award-winning coffees. They have a large selection of teas, edibles and gifts. The Dark Chocolate Peaberry coffee beans coats 100% Kona Peaberry coffee beans with the perfect amount of dark chocolate. It is an excellent snack to take on a day of hiking in Volcanoes National Park.
The Kona Coffee & Tea Company also has a coffee club, and they have online shopping available, so that you can continue to enjoy the high quality, exquisite coffee, tea and chocolates at home. It's a relief to know that you don't have to fly all the way to Hawai'i to enjoy Kona coffee again. Their Malia Ohana farm is in the process of becoming certified organic, and their other farm uses organic materials where possible.
Holualoa Kona Coffee Company: Kona Le'a Plantation
The Holualoa Kona Coffee Company's Kona Le'a plantation coffees are all natural, with no pesticides or herbicides used. The farm is certified organic, and for this reason, I bought a large selection of their coffees. When you first arrive at the farm and step out of your vehicle, the geese that wander around the farm and provide natural fertilizer for the orchards come to greet you. This farm is more high-touch than high-tech, which lends a rustic feel not found at the other plantations.
The plantation-tour is self-guided and takes you through the entire coffee-making process, from bean to cup. It is possible to make online purchases from the Kona Le'a website. They have what they call a "Custom Coffee Service," which allows you to have coffee auto-shipped to your destination of choice at regular intervals. You can select orders to ship every two, four, six or eight weeks. Having a standing order provides a small savings.
If you are a coffee aficionado, then be sure to take a tour of at least one coffee plantation while on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Kona has some of the highest quality and best-tasting coffee in the world. Meeting the growers who are passionate about it helps you to appreciate how your favorite brew gets to your cup.
Image: The Holualoa Kona Coffee Company's Kona Le'a plantation, Big Island, Hawaii – Courtesy of Bob Tobin
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