How well do you know Kauai Coffee? Test your knowledge with these ten fun facts. You’ll learn everything from our sweet beginnings to the varietals we grow and the unique custom art you can find at the Estate!
It Started With Sugar
Hawaii has a long history with sugar. To sustain their long voyages and survive once they arrived on distant shores, Polynesian Voyagers traveled with plants they considered sacred and useful for food, clothing, and shelter. Sugar cane, also known as ko in the Hawaiian Language, was one such canoe plant, and it was used for food, medicine, and cultural ceremonies. The first sugar plantation opened on the island of Kauai in 1836 and was quickly followed by several more.
Alexander and Walter McBryde formed the McBryde Sugar Company in 1899 and built a new sugar mill east of Eleele on the southwest shore of Kauai. Hawaiians and plantation workers called the new mill “Numila.” The name has stuck to this day and is the present-day location of Kauai Coffee. Look for Numila on roadway signage as you approach the Kauai Coffee Visitors Center from Kaumualii Highway.
By 1974 many of the Kauai plantations discontinued sugar operations. In 1982 hurricane Iwa destroyed much of the remaining McBryde Sugar Crop and led to the planting of coffee, macadamia nuts, and other crops. Fortunately, coffee weathered hurricane Iniki’s devastation in 1992 better than other crops, so McBryde planted even more. In 1996 the coffee harvest exceeded the volume of coffee produced in the entire Kona region. McBryde Sugar officially went out of existence, paving the way for Kauai Coffee as we know it today.
Largest Coffee Farm in the U.S.A.
With over 4 million coffee trees grown on 3,100 acres, Kauai Coffee Company is Hawaii’s largest coffee grower and thus the largest coffee grower in the U.S.A. It’s also a working farm you can visit year round! The Kauai Coffee Visitor Center is open every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Visitors can enjoy sampling our 100% Hawaiian Coffees, taking tours, shopping, and watching roasting demonstrations.
In fact, our Visitor Center is the only place in the world where you can taste our entire line of 100% Hawaiian, estate-grown coffees. Every coffee bean is grown and roasted right here. No foreign or imported beans are ever used, giving our Hawaiian coffees a unique flavor and an unmatched character. From the soft, fruity Kauai Blue Mountain to our intense, chocolaty, dark-roasted Peaberry, we have an exceptional range of coffees to satisfy any palate. We also offer flavored coffees, including Coconut Caramel Crunch, Vanilla and Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Hazelnut, and Toasty Banana Nut Cream. Tasting our coffee varieties is free and deliciously satisfying. Plan a visit today
Hawaiian Coffee is Exceedingly Rare
100% Hawaiian coffee is highly regarded and adored by coffee connoisseurs worldwide. However, even though Hawaii is the only U.S. state with a thriving commercial coffee industry, Hawaiian coffee is relatively scarce. With an annual production value of about $50 million and approximately 900 farms statewide, Hawaiian coffee accounts for less than .05% of the global coffee market.
Coffee is an annual crop; each of our trees produces just one pound of coffee yearly. This rarity and the exceptional growing conditions in Hawaii make Kauai Coffee a bean worth knowing and adding to your cupboard.
There are more than 100 known species of coffee worldwide, but Arabica and Robusta are the two most prominently used to make the caffeinated concoction we all love. We grow Arabica coffee and cultivate seven unique varieties, including:
Busy Bees Help Our Trees
Did you know Arabica coffee flowers have a unique superpower – they are self-pollinating! However, this doesn’t mean bees aren’t helpful around the coffee farm. Coffee trees visited by pollinating insects produce more fruit and, therefore, more coffee!
At Kauai Coffee, we host several beehives annually to ensure our trees and flowers are happy and healthy. Keeping bees on the farm also has the sweet benefit of producing delicious coffee blossom honey with floral and citrus notes that complement coffee and tea quite nicely. Blossom honey is usually available for purchase at the Kauai Coffee Visitor Center and on our website after the flowering season, but just like the bees, it goes quickly!
Single Origin, Single Estate
Just like the terms single malt and single Estate in whiskey and wine production denote an enhanced level of quality, the same is true for single origin coffee. When you buy single origin coffee, you can expect it to be from a unique location, and that the flavor notes and attributes will represent the soil and growing conditions in that place. So, when you purchase 100% Kauai Coffee, you can be sure it came from one source – our coffee ‘ohana!
The coffee supply chain can often be complex involving numerous companies handling the farming, harvesting, processing, roasting, and distribution. Kauai Coffee is a vertically integrated company. Every step from seed to cup, including growing your coffee, processing, roasting, and packaging, happens under our care.
On-Site Coffee Roasting and Q Graders
Roasting coffee transforms processed green beans into the fragrant and delicious Kauai Coffee you grind and brew daily. Coffee roasting is an activity where all your senses are engaged. The color of the beans, sounds and aromas they produce are all clues to achieving the perfect roast. Thankfully we have technology to help too. Our commercial roasting equipment can roast between 28 and 32 100-pound batches per day, but it still takes a human touch to get it right, and we are fortunate to have highly trained Q graders and roast masters on staff.
Much like a sommelier evaluates wine, a Q grader is a professional licensed to cup, classify and assess coffee quality based on a strict set of standards. Becoming a Q Grader is no easy feat. It takes time, effort, and years of dedication to hone the craft and develop a palate for tasting. Meet our Q Graders and Roast masters here.
Cockadoodle-NEW Works of Art
Exceptional 100% Hawaiian Coffee isn’t the only thing that is artfully crafted under our roof! We also have talented artists on staff! Hanky Benjamin was hired in our maintenance department in 2006. He learned to weld last year and created the new rooster sculpture now on display at the Visitor Center. The statue is one of the tallest rooster sculptures in the country and a perfect tribute to the famous fowls that roam the Garden Island.
Giant jungle birds aren’t the only unique works of art you’ll find at Kauai Coffee. We also engage talented artists to create our annual burlap coffee bag design. Visitors can purchase bags on-site or online when in stock. Over the years, we’ve seen many visitors turn these keepsakes into unique and exciting pieces for their homes—everything from couch covers and wall art to satchels and stockings.
Triple Certified Coffee
Kauai Coffee Company has long been committed to sustainable farming. In 2018 we earned the unique distinction of being the first Hawaiian coffee triple certified by leading sustainability advocates. 100% Kauai Coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified™, Fair Trade Certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified. In 2021 we updated our packaging to include all three certification badges.
Now you know more about Kauai Coffee and how we care for it from seed to cup! Add a little aloha to your day; shop online for our exceptional 100% H