2020 was an unusual year, but through it all the sun kept rising, and coffee kept growing. We’re delighted to report that the 2020 harvest season wrapped up in December, and a fresh crop of Kauai Coffee is making its way to shelves and mugs soon. To find out how it went, we asked Kauai Coffee Orchard Manager Jon Ching a few questions about this year’s harvest and what he’s excited about on the horizon. Learn more about how we harvest delicious island-grown coffee and order your favorites online now.
How long was the 2020 Kauai Coffee harvest season, and how did it go?
The harvest began on September 21st, and we ended on December 3rd. Overall, it was a short but very successful season.
2020 has been a challenging year for many industries. How was the harvest affected by the pandemic? Were there any significant changes to harvest operations?
Thankfully, the pandemic had minimal impact on our harvest. We were able to bring our seasonal workers to Kauai early due to the mandatory 14-day quarantine in place. Unfortunately, with travel restrictions ongoing, many of our seasonal staff are stuck here for now. Still, we’re grateful to have their help with post-harvest operations for a little while longer.
What is one interesting thing most people don’t know about harvesting coffee?
The majority of coffee throughout the world is mechanically harvested. This year, on average, we harvested about 180,000 pounds of coffee cherry per day.
How long from the time coffee is harvested until it reaches store shelves and is ready for sale?
It depends. The Kauai Blue Mountain that we harvested will be roasted and available for sale next week – but that’s rare. It would typically take approximately four months. We try to go through our previous crop first before roasting the new crop. However, if we are low in stock of specific varietals, we’re able to be flexible and shift schedules so they become available sooner. There isn’t a set time frame; it just depends on our inventory levels.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2019 was the hottest year on record for the State of Hawaii. How did the weather and temperature in 2020 compare? How do weather and climate affect coffee yield?
Thankfully 2020 was a slightly cooler year with more rainfall than 2019. Early in the year, rain showers brought on concentrated flowerings during March, which produced good yields throughout the farm.
What will happen to coffee if temperatures continue to rise and Hawaii sees more extreme weather?
One of the biggest threats to our coffee crop is the potential for more hurricane activity as temperatures rise and ocean patterns change. Not only would it be devastating to our island and community if a significant hurricane were to land on Kauai, but we could see a substantial crop loss.
Now that coffee has been harvested, what’s next? What are you looking forward to as we move into the next growing season?
We have a lot of exciting and challenging tasks moving into 2021. Now that the harvest season is over, orchard maintenance, pruning, and fertilization are the priorities to ensure the coffee trees get back to production.
Kauai Coffee is committed to sustainable farming practices, are there any new programs or procedures that will be implemented next year?
We are continuing to increase the acreage of cover cropping and establishing orchard ground covers to encourage soil health and fertility.
Are there any other interesting facts about the Kauai Coffee harvest you’d like to share?
Kauai and the ocean that surrounds it is home to a lot of interesting and endangered wildlife. During the harvest season, our shift crews work 24 hours a day. However, three days prior and three days after the new moon, we do not harvest between sunset and midnight because the endangered Newell’s Shearwater fledglings take their first flight during this time and could get distracted and disoriented by the lights on our harvesters.
What should Kauai Coffee fans expect from the newest crop of Kauai Coffee?
We’re still cupping and performing quality control on the 2020 crop, but you can always expect a delicious cup of island-grown coffee nurtured and harvested with aloha from our ‘ohana to yours. Shop for 100% Kauai Coffee online here.