Curious & Thirsty: Kaua'i, Hawaii

Kauai Coffee Company

Visitors may take a self-guided tour and view blossoming coffee trees in February.

The Kauai Coffee Company is the largest coffee estate in the U.S. with over four million coffee trees.

The aromatic scent of Kauai Coffee percolates in your head weeks after leaving the island. And, coffee aficionados familiar with Kona blends will find that Kauai’s coffee is in a class by itself — less acidic, with broader flavor profiles and a softer finish.

Kauai Coffee is grown exclusively on a 3,200 acre estate with four million coffee trees. It is the largest facility of its type in the U.S. Everything necessary to create a final coffee product -- from planting and roasting, to packaging -- happens within the estate itself. Currently five varieties of Arabica coffee beans are produced: Yellow Catuai (Brazilian seed), Red Catuai (Brazilian seed) Typica (Guatemalan seed), Blue Mountain (Jamaican seed), and Mundo Novo (Central American seed).

Visitors can sample all the varieties and blends at the estate, which is open year round, seven days a week. Friendly staff are on hand to serve the coffees as well as to answer questions and discuss the variations in the blends. Sitting with a cup of rich Kauai Coffee while enjoying the panoramic views of the estate is a treat in and of itself. Linger and enjoy every second.

From mid-Octorber to December, coffee cherries are harvested.

Once you’ve soaked up the views and have a bit of a caffeine buzz, take the self-guided tour through the property and see first hand the complex process involved in creating a seemingly simple cup of “Joe.” Walk through the rows of coffee trees and, depending upon the time of year, notice the fruit or coffee cherries covering the branches. Blossoms emerge in February, with harvest beginning in mid-October through December. To ensure a superior product, the cherries must be picked at their peak. Because of this quality control and the massive size of the Kauai estate, harvesting runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Within two hours of being harvested, the coffee cherries are rushed to the wet processing plant. At the plant, the cherries are cleaned of any stems and leaves, then separated into five grades of coffee. On average, 650,000 pounds of cherries are processed per day. Once graded, the cherries are pulped -- in other words, the skin and fleshy fruit are removed.

Kauai Coffee being roasted and blended to produce a final, extraordinary product

Pulped beans are hydrowashed and then sent to dryers for 18-36 hours. After they dry, the beans are sorted again. This time, an electronic eye scans the beans, sorting high quality from inferior beans according to color. At this point, a DOA (Department of Agriculture) inspector certifies the batch, and the coffee is ready to be bagged.

Finally, the coffee is roasted and blended with other varieties to produce unique blends which will also be classified generally as espresso, dark roast, medium, etc. After viewing this involved process and seeing the care required to create and nourish great beans, you’ll appreciate your all-essential morning cup of coffee even more!

For additional information visit the Kauai Coffee TV Channel. View live stream programing or videos to learn more about coffee production and the many activities taking place on the Kauai Coffee estate. Coffee can also be purchased online. The Estate Coffee Club has numerous options to ensure that you receive Kauai Coffee on a regular basis. So, even if you can’t physically be in Kauai, you can at least have a daily taste of the island.