Kona Coffee: The Beginning
The Coffee Arabica plant was initially introduced to The hawaiian islands from Brazil when the Governor of Oahu, Chief Boki, brought it in return from Rio de Janeiro on a return vacation from Europe.
The tree had been then brought over to Kona simply by Reverend Samuel Ruggles in 1828. He initially planted it for aesthetic purposes, but was surprised to see how well it grew. This thrived from the very beginning, making it apparent just how perfect Kona was for growing coffee. The warm summertime rains, calm winds, and wealthy volcanic soil allowed the plants to take hold quickly in Kona.
Kona farms began to expand plus gain fame in the mid 1800’s, with the main market being the particular whalers and sailors who ended at Hawaiian ports. On his 1866 trip through Kona, Mark Twain said, “I think Kona espresso has a richer flavor than every other, be it grown where it may. ” This glowing praise set the stage for the coffee’s meteoric increase.
The Struggle For Success
While it might have flourished at first, Kona hasn’t usually had it easy over the last a hundred and fifty years. Invasive pests, devastating droughts, and market drops have come close to destroying the coffee industry in Hawaii. The first trouble came in the particular 1860’s when the whaling trade collapsed, destroying its primary market. At the same time, sugar cane prices sky rocketed and most investors abandoned coffee for that much more lucrative sugar industry.
However , in the 1890’s the world coffee marketplace exploded and Kona experienced the first coffee boom. Thousands of Western immigrants were brought in to work the particular coffee plantations and over three million trees were planted. Unfortunately, this success was short lived. Within 1899 the world market crashed due to over supply and the coffee business teetered on the edge of annihilation.
Hope came again in 1916 with the start of World War I as the US army bought up large shares of espresso to help sustain the troops. Manufacturing slumped with the Great Depression, but WWII once again revived the market. Thankfully, the particular 1950’s brought a more global market for Kona coffee as tourism in Hawaii surged. The identification of Kona coffee as a high quality global commodity helped ensure the particular continual survival of the brand.
Hawaiian Coffee Today
Today, about seven hundred Kona farms, consisting of an estimated 3 or more, 000 acres of trees, grow 18 millions pounds of natural coffee a year. Roasted Kona espresso sells for about $25 dollars the pound and brings in roughly $30 million to Kona’s farmers each year. Production has increased over the past decade with the growth of global recognition of the quality of 100% Kona Coffee. However , despite recent prosperity, Hawaiian farmers are facing many obstacles in the future.
Many companies have attempted to piggy back on this success by creating coffee “blends” or “mixes. ” These often have only a little percentage of real Kona espresso, and use the popularity of the brand name to increase sales, while degrading the quality of the brand.
Even worse, some sellers have been found completely counterfeiting Kona coffee. These shady marketers re-label South American coffee as fully Kona coffee and sell it towards the unsuspecting public. This is devastating to Kona’s industry, which relies on the reputation for high quality.
More a worry, in 2010 a coffee borer beetle infestation was discovered in Kona. This beetle destroys the bean from the coffee plant, and can ruin up to 90% of a coffee crop. Hawaii has enacted a quarantine upon raw coffee to prevent the spread of the beetle, and farmers work to minimize the damage the beetle does. Some farmers have seen immense damage from this new pest, and the Kona crop could be devastated in long term years. Hopefully, with the cooperation associated with Kona farmers, damage by the beetle can be minimized and Kona espresso will be safe for many more decades.