I don't like coffee.
I'm a tea drinker, and usually scrunch my face up at the taste of a typical cup of joe. I can stand the super-flavored mocha drinks, but typical coffee makes me gag. While staying at the bed and breakfast in Kona, however, I felt obligated to try the coffee. Kona coffee is world renowned; I HAD to have some. Besides, it was free. If I didn't like it, it's not like I spent $4 at Starbucks for it.
I liked it!
It had a smooth flavor that was much better than anything I had tasted coffee-wise. I now understand what all the fuss is about. So, we were in Kona- did we see any coffee?
These short trees are coffee plants. Everyone had them in their yard. The bigger pieces of property were "farms" and sold, go figure, "Kona coffee." These farms were everywhere.
To get authentic, local coffee, we stopped in at the second farm there, the Sugai Kona Coffeee Company. We turned down the driveway, and drove up to what, seriously, looked like a duplex. The signs seemed to imply we should walk through a sliding screen door in the house. Sure enough, up the shaky steps & through the door, there was a "store", complete with bags of coffee. We were immediately offered a sample of the "extra-fancy" blend," which was great. We got an explanation of the coffee-growing process, and the grades of "extra-fancy", "fancy", and "peaberry".
So, here's what we learned:
Coffee plants get flowers the produces a coffee bean in the flower's place. The beans need to be hand-picked. The largest beans are labeled "extra fancy" and have the mildest, smoothest flavor with the least aftertaste. (I surmised that maybe I like Kona coffee because of the lack of strong aftertaste?) The next-biggest size is "fancy" and has a slight aftertaste. The peaberry variety is a little different- a flower is damaged and doesn't produce a full-sized bean, but all the plants energy still goes into developing that bean, resulting in a bean with a stronger flavor.
The beans are roasted after being categorized, and packaged for sale (or roasted, ground, then packaged) All the beans sold in a week are roasted at the beginning of the week, so they're still pretty fresh.
I love supporting local businesses and learning how they do what they do. This family's coffee farm had been around a long time, and they have done a good job, even winning awards. I was glad to meet them!