Big Island – Day 1 – Part 2
We arrived in Kona on the Big Island early in the morning and after picking up our rental car we started driving south along the coast for something to do, something to eat, and something to see. We found our way to the Greenwell Farms for a tour and some coffee.
We followed our phone GPS and drove passed it a couple times. The farm is located behind a couple small buildings. I think it’s part of the farm, but to get to the coffee (and actual entrance?) just keep driving down until you see the sign “Welcome to Greenwell Farms. Visitor Parking.” I parked a little further up from that sign, but I didn’t mind the short walk down the driveway (we also made sure to put on some bug spray, according to other reviews you just don’t want to be eaten up by bugs).
Greenwell Farm has tours from 8:30am to 4:30 throughout the day. I originally thought tours only started every half an hour, so I tried to time it get there at a good time to join a tour with out waiting. But I failed at the time part because I got a little lost finding the farm. Lucky for us, they started a tour for us once we got there. It was small group tour with my family (4 people) and a group of ladies from Hilo (the other side of the island) and their friends from Europe (I thing they were from the Netherlands, I don’t remember anymore).
It’s a big farm! But the tour does not take you all the way through the farm. We only get to see a small part of the farm and its facilities.
The coffee trees looked like some messy untrimmed trees on the farm to me. Our tour guide explained that the trees are trimmed and picked in phases, to give the trees time to re-grow after picking the coffee or what they call coffee cherry. They really do look like little berries or cherries on a tree.
When the coffee cherries are red, they’re ready to be picked. And it has to be hand picked! Pickers are paid by the amount of cherries they pick, so they better get moving! And I guess that’s where we can see the value of our goods, do you ever think of where our food come from and how it’s grown or picked or prepared before we buy it?
Greenwell Farms not only grows its own coffee cherries, they also buy coffee cherries from neighboring farms. In the picture above, you see all of the bags used to store coffee cherries and simply left out to dry (I think). The bags are from all different places and are simply reused.
After picking the coffee cherries, they are taken to this facility (pictured above) to dry. They are simply placed on a platform and leveled off to dry, but there are red roofs that can be rolled over the platform to make sure the cherries don’t get wet. According to our tour guide the rain in this area of Kona is like clock work. The rains comes in the afternoon almost everyday.
This is the next process to turning these cherries into what we know as coffee beans.
Of course you don’t just lay the cherries out. You have to get the beans out of the the cherries first. You can simply squeeze it and out come two little beans. They’re actually a little slimy and a kind of sweet (I kind of tasted it). That’s what is left out to dry. When that’s all dried, another layer of skin comes off, and that is when the green bean appears! That’s what is going to be roasted, and that would be the coffee we buy!
That is what I remember from my tour guide. I hope I was a good student and got it right. If not please let me know if I happen to miss something in my summary.
Greenwell Farms did not originate as a coffee farm. It was actually a fruit farm. The Greenwell (coffee) Farms has little more for everyone to see with quite a variety of fruit trees throughout the farm. Just to name a few, there were bananas, avocados, and lychee.
They also have a small grove with with about 20 little coffee trees, and were told that those are some of original trees that were planted when the coffee started! Not all of them have survived since the 1800’s. But it’s still pretty cool to see some old trees (that don’t look very old – I imagine really really big trees). These trees still produce, but not very much any more.
At the end of the tour, we headed to the front of the farm where we get to drink lots of coffee, I mean taste their coffee. And of course take some home as souvenirs. It was a fun little tour (glad it wasn’t very long) with an entertaining tour guide giving us coffee 101 lesson.
The Greenwell Farms not only sells their coffee roasted to but it also sells unroasted coffee beans all of the world. According to our tour guide, Peet’s Coffee in California buys their unroasted beans. So apparently I’ve been drinking Greenwell Farms coffee for quite a few years.
81-6551 Mamalahoa Hwy.,
Kealakekua, Island of Hawaii, HI 96740