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Topic: Kona and trellised coffee... (2 msgs / 131 lines)
1) From: Chris Diersen
Just recently back from a trip to the Big Island, and I'm a little confused about something.  We (the wife and I) visited a few coffee farms (it wasn't the primary goal of our trip) that we hadn't visited on our last visit to Kona, among them Mountain Thunder (really nice people), Greenwell farms (for historic purposes!) and "Kona Joe."  More on them in a minute.
   
  There are a lot of places in Kona now where one can see the workings of a Kona coffee farm (or mill, for that matter) and a good number of farms there are (wisely) cashing in on the coffee-tourist dollar by having a guide handy to show folks around and plenty of souvenirs and roasted coffee for sale.  Some are better than others, but until this trip, all of them we'd visited were genuinely "into" coffee on a really small-farm level.  
   
  I'd sure like to know what the story is on "Kona Joe", though.  We stopped there on a Saturday on our way to Honaunau, mostly because almost everyone else was closed, and I'd remembered that they "trellised" their coffee trees, and I wanted to see what that was all about.  When I first heard of it, it sounded like just about the silliest thing I'd ever heard.  Why trellis a plant that naturally supports itself, grows like a weed, and produces abundant, excellent fruit when it grows in it's natural habit?  In fact, being a gardener myself, I would think that a trellised coffee plant would be an incredible waste of labor.
   
  I thought that I'd give their coffee a taste at least, to see if there was any merit in their method.  That proved more difficult that you might expect!  First, when you arrive there, they appear to be a very successful operation.  Big buildings, shiny new equipment, a coffee bar (where you must buy your drink!) etc.  There are free tastings from airpots in the gift shop, and the gift shop is filled with coffee beans for sale, mostly (and tellingly, I'd say) "international blends" (a nice way to say, "won't be able to taste the 10% Kona at all").
   
  I asked the woman in the gift shop if Kona Joe sold green beans.  She said "Yes, we do, but not usually, and only a pound or two."  She never did explain *how* to go about getting green beans.  When I asked *how* I could get green beans, she asked if I was a roaster, then told me that I couldn't take green beans off the island anyway.  I hate when people do that.   I mean, did she think I was an idiot, or did she genuinely believe what she was saying? I told her I was a homeroaster.  I arrived on a plane, so I had to read the agriculture statement.  I obviously had an *idea* what I was doing, and had, in fact, spoken with the USDA in Kona the day before (to make sure it would be okay to take parchment with me on the plane.  As info, anything but cherry is fine.).  So pretty much what she was saying was "I'm not interested in getting green coffee for you, so I will lie to you about the agriculture rules at the airport."  How lame.  She even invented a little story about
 her "friends" at the airport who confiscate green coffee from travelers.  If that's true, her friends are thieves.
   
  Does anyone have any positive experiences with the Kona Joe company to relate?  I saw the "trellises" and for the most part, the trees aren't even really trellised!  There are trellises, but other than the trees by the visitor center, none of them appeared to be actually trained to the trellis.  Whatever.  To add to my bad impression, on the way out, I saw a sign that said that Kona Joe has applied for a patent on their process of trellising coffee.  Good Lord....
   
  Chris
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2) From: miKe mcKoffee
I have no direct experiences with and have not visited Kona Joe's, just
previous discussions on List and perusing their website. Whether their
growing technique has benefits of things like easier cultivation, higher
yields, more evenly ripening and easier picking or what counts to me better
taste in the cup seem possibly separate issues. The first areas highly
possible while the latter not seeming to bear fruit since they have not
"blown away" the competition during the Kona Cupping Competitions, not even
close. They'd likely have a tough time competing with the very best higher
elevation 2 to 3k foot farms being a mid elevation farm themselves
encompassing 1 to 1.4k ft whatever their growing techniques. 
Transporting greens out of Hawaii via Airlines wise whether the gift shop
clerk misspoke intentionally or out of ignorance regardless she did indeed
misspeak as you well knew. I've brought back greens a number of times and
the only "problem" is with the lower 50# checked baggage weight
restrictions! Thank goodness they never weighed my carry-on loaded with
greens last time, which is supposed to be kept "light", since last time one
weighed over 75#! and all 4 checked bags right at their 50# limits;-O
Bring ag' products INTO Hawaii is where the big restrictions kick in, not
out of.
Oh, my thoughts on their new buildings and equipment equating to a
successful operation may or may not correlate in the cup. Could just be good
financing. Or good marketing but doesn't necessarily mean good Kona. I mean,
they who have the MOST hamburger restaurants world wide most certainly DO
NOT make the best hamburgers! And they who have the MOST espresso shops
world wide DEFINITELY do NOT have good let alone great espresso!!!!!
Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffee
URL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://mdmint.home.comcast.net/coffee/Rosto_mod.htmUltimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
	From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Chris Diersen
	Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2006 8:58 AM
	
	Just recently back from a trip to the Big Island, and I'm a little
confused about something.  We (the wife and I) visited a few coffee farms
(it wasn't the primary goal of our trip) that we hadn't visited on our last
visit to Kona, among them Mountain Thunder (really nice people), Greenwell
farms (for historic purposes!) and "Kona Joe."  More on them in a minute.
	 
	There are a lot of places in Kona now where one can see the workings
of a Kona coffee farm (or mill, for that matter) and a good number of farms
there are (wisely) cashing in on the coffee-tourist dollar by having a guide
handy to show folks around and plenty of souvenirs and roasted coffee for
sale.  Some are better than others, but until this trip, all of them we'd
visited were genuinely "into" coffee on a really small-farm level.  
	 
	I'd sure like to know what the story is on "Kona Joe", though.  We
stopped there on a Saturday on our way to Honaunau, mostly because almost
everyone else was closed, and I'd remembered that they "trellised" their
coffee trees, and I wanted to see what that was all about.  When I first
heard of it, it sounded like just about the silliest thing I'd ever heard.
Why trellis a plant that naturally supports itself, grows like a weed, and
produces abundant, excellent fruit when it grows in it's natural habit?  In
fact, being a gardener myself, I would think that a trellised coffee plant
would be an incredible waste of labor.
	 
	I thought that I'd give their coffee a taste at least, to see if
there was any merit in their method.  That proved more difficult that you
might expect!  First, when you arrive there, they appear to be a very
successful operation.  Big buildings, shiny new equipment, a coffee bar
(where you must buy your drink!) etc.  There are free tastings from airpots
in the gift shop, and the gift shop is filled with coffee beans for sale,
mostly (and tellingly, I'd say) "international blends" (a nice way to say,
"won't be able to taste the 10% Kona at all").
	 
	I asked the woman in the gift shop if Kona Joe sold green beans.
She said "Yes, we do, but not usually, and only a pound or two."  She never
did explain *how* to go about getting green beans.  When I asked *how* I
could get green beans, she asked if I was a roaster, then told me that I
couldn't take green beans off the island anyway.  I hate when people do
that.   I mean, did she think I was an idiot, or did she genuinely believe
what she was saying? I told her I was a homeroaster.  I arrived on a plane,
so I had to read the agriculture statement.  I obviously had an *idea* what
I was doing, and had, in fact, spoken with the USDA in Kona the day before
(to make sure it would be okay to take parchment with me on the plane.  As
info, anything but cherry is fine.).  So pretty much what she was saying was
"I'm not interested in getting green coffee for you, so I will lie to you
about the agriculture rules at the airport."  How lame.  She even invented a
little story about her "friends" at the airport who confiscate green coffee
from travelers.  If that's true, her friends are thieves.
	 
	Does anyone have any positive experiences with the Kona Joe company
to relate?  I saw the "trellises" and for the most part, the trees aren't
even really trellised!  There are trellises, but other than the trees by the
visitor center, none of them appeared to be actually trained to the trellis.
Whatever.  To add to my bad impression, on the way out, I saw a sign that
said that Kona Joe has applied for a patent on their process of trellising
coffee.  Good Lord....
	 
	Chris
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http://mail.yahoo.com


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