Hawaii is one of the states that is emerging as an up-and-coming coffee-growing region in the continent. Looking closely at Hawaii’s coffee production, you can see that the region produces exciting new flavors of coffee. In 2020, Hawaii’s total annual coffee harvest was estimated at up to $102.91 million (source). Also, Hawaii has about 6,900 acres of land dedicated to coffee production.
History of Coffee Production in Hawaii
According to the oldest recorded journal of Don Francisco de Paula, coffee production in Hawaii can be dated back to 1813. The journal documents the first-ever seeds of coffee planted on the Oahu island. Unfortunately, there is no further documentation about continuing the coffee harvest after 1813 by de Paula.
However, Captain Lord Byron brought coffee plants from Brazil and introduced them to the Hawaiian region. His legacy could not be carried forward after the Captain’s death, and the coffee trees were transported to Honolulu.
The first-ever commercial efforts to initiate coffee production in Hawaii were carried out in 1845, with about 248 pounds of coffee harvested from the Kauai’s and Hawaii islands.
All about Coffee Production in Hawaii
It is vital to look at the data trends to know about coffee production in Hawaii. Every season is, of course, a different story for data trends and harvest ratio. Coffee production depends on varying levels of coffee cherry production and green bean production.
Since 2015, the overall annual amount of coffee production in the Hawaiian Islands has increased steadily. Following is an overview of various regions in Hawaii and their coffee production:
1. Kona Region
Coffee from this region of Hawaii is popular all over the world. Kona coffee is highly regarded among the top coffee-consuming countries of the world. Kona Island spans more than half of the western region of the Big Island. The coffee here is also known as Kona (after the island’s name). There are numerous coffee farms on this island along the slopes of Mauna Loa and Honolulu volcanoes.
These farms are approximately 500 to 3,000 feet above sea level. Kona Island has about 900 coffee farms harvested in a long strip that stretches for about 30 miles. This large area of coffee farms is about 2 miles wide and is popularly known as the Kona coffee belt.
Kona region has the perfect weather for coffee harvest and production with mild nights and ultra-rich volcanic soil. This fertile soil significantly helps in sustaining the coffee farms.
2. Ka’u Region
Historically, Ka’u was a significant region for producing sugar. However, since the sugar market collapsed in Hawaii, Ka’u Island’s sugar production also declined. This region is located on the southeast belt of Kona Island along the slopes of Mauna Loa.
The coffee farms here in Ka’u cover an area of 5 acres and are present at an altitude of 1,000 to 2,500 meters. The secret of high-quality coffee from this region is the rich and fertile volcanic soil and the region’s sunny weather.
Hamakua also shifted from sugar production to coffee harvest during recent years. Hamakua has small coffee farms along the northeast coast of Big Island. These farms are about 150 acres and produce a sufficient amount of coffee cultivation.
Most coffee farms in Hamakua are family-owned; so, the farmers pick coffee cherries by hand and collect them for further production steps. The lands of Hamakua are considered the most fertile soil on the whole island.
4. Puna Region
One of the biggest emerging coffee-growing regions in Hawaii is Puna. It has more fertile soil that has the potential of growing more coffee. Currently, about 125 acres of land in Puna cultivate coffee, while a big area still surfaces as potential land to grow more coffee.
Puna receives the most rain on the whole island and has a relatively colder climate. Coffee in Puna is harvested in lava, which is a reason for a hint of acidity in the coffee grown here. Coffee from this region is popular for its aroma and high-quality taste.
Maui Island in Hawaii produces a more diverse crop of coffee. It has about 600 acres of coffee farms which are mostly present on mountainous terrain. Maui region is famous for its micro-climates. Thus, coffee farmers in Maui happen to be more experimental with several varieties of coffees and their different processing methods.
Maui is very famous for its Mokka coffee which became famous in 2012 when Starbucks included Maui Mokka in their Special Reserve coffee menu.
If we talk about commercial coffee production in Hawaii, Kauai comes up as the main region. Before Kona became the top coffee-producing region in Hawaii, Kauai was home to the largest coffee farms in the region. Kauai is well-known for being the only region in the state still not attacked by the coffee borer beetle.
In this region, coffee grows in a stable climate throughout the year. You can visit coffee farms along the lower slopes of Mount Waialeale. These farms receive significant amounts of rainfall, making the soil more fertile.
Kauai has about three major commercial coffee farms spanning over 2,515 acres. These farms produce a whopping 10 million pounds of coffee cherries every year.
Coffee production in Molokai depends on a single plantation of Arabica coffee. The Arabica coffee farms in this region span over 150 acres in the Kualapu’u area. The coffee-growing areas in Molokai are also very fertile from historic volcanic eruptions in the area. A stable climate is also a significant contributor to the high rates of coffee production in the region.
During 2014-2015, Molokai had produced about 285,000 pounds of coffee cherries. Moreover, during 2015-2016 there were about 123 acres of coffee farms active for growing the Red Catuai coffee.
Hawaii is made up of eight main islands, amongst which five are huge coffee producers. Maui, Kauai, Molokai, and others have their distinct coffee varieties. These islands are major contributors to world coffee production.
Coffee production in Hawaii has been gradually increasing ever since the first-ever commercial coffee production venture. The climate and altitude of the region are perfect for coffee production, while high fertile soil also plays a significant part.