I realize there is so much more to say about Maui coffee and so here you are ~ part 2, a continuation of Where to buy your local coffee!
How does coffee grow?
Coffee grows on trees which can grow to approximately 30 feet in height and live 30-40 or more years. On commercial operations trees are typically grown in rows, pruned and look like shrubby hedges. Coffee cherries grow clustered around the stem. Once they ripen (red) the cherries are picked. Within each cherry you find two seeds (what we call the coffee bean). Once removed from the cherry, the seeds/beans are then washed, dried and roasted to perfection.
Did you know ~ you can make tea out of the cherries? Coffees of Hawaii has a coffee cherry tisane which is quite delicious. Coffee cherries are also called cascara (from the Spanish word for husk) and contain less caffeine than coffee beans.
What types of coffee are grown on Maui?
According to the Hawaii Coffee Association the main varietals grown on Maui include Typica, Catuai, Caturra, Bourbon and Mokka. In my travels into various stores and at coffee festivals I’ve personally seen Maui Mokka, Typica and both Red and Yellow Catuai. There are small to commercial size farms on the slopes of Haleakala and also the West Maui Mountains. The larger farms would be Kaanapali Coffee Estate (300ish acres in Lahaina ~ ‘gentleman’ farms) and Mahi Pono‘s coffee operation (unsure how many acres they have planted or how long it will take for their trees to start producing). Molokai also has a coffee farm ~ Coffees of Hawaii Estate and Farm. Many coffee growers are a part of the Maui Coffee Association.
A few years ago I attended a coffee cupping competition held at the Maui Tropical Plantation. It was fascinating. Did you know, for these coffee cupping competitions they roast the beans all the same way (light roast) so the judges can taste the unique flavors of the beans themselves? On a side note, I prefer a medium to dark roast.
Are there coffee farm tours?
There used to be. In 2015 Maui ‘welcomed’ a new resident ~ the coffee berry borer beetle (what a name) arrived and has since wreaked havoc on local crops. The University of Hawaii published this great article on this pest.
To my knowledge there are currently not any coffee farm tours on Maui. However, there are still some places where you can see coffee trees – such as the Maui Tropical Plantation. If you venture upcountry to Grandma’s Coffee House, you’ll find coffee trees growing right next to the building. And yes, they grow, roast and brew their own beans (and sell it for you to take home too). You know how I mentioned coffee places with desserts in the previous blog? This is one of THE best places to get your coffee WITH dessert. Their carrot cake…. and cheese cake…. dessert case in general…. it’s been too long.