What Happens After the Coffee Harvest?
The 2022 harvest is expected to conclude this week, and in a few short months, the first flowers of 2023 will bloom across the farm. While the coffee trees may look like they are taking a break between January and March, there is a buzz of activity across the Estate. From maintenance and mechanical repair to processing and roasting, there is never a dull moment at Kauai Coffee! Find out how your coffee goes from seed to cup with this behind-the-scenes look.
Maintenance and Repair
When you have four million coffee trees growing on 3,100 acres, highly trained staff and reliable equipment are critical to a great harvest. We are very fortunate to have both here on the Garden Island. Did you know that Kauai Coffee has a team of mechanics and welders who dismantle, refurbish, and reassemble our equipment after every harvest?
So, while the coffee trees get ready to bloom and grow the next crop of coffee, our maintenance crew is working hard to ensure we'll be ready for harvest again next year. Harvest operations run 24 hours a day between September and December, and it takes nearly every minute of the growing season to rebuild and refurbish!
Soil Health and Irrigation
Coffee needs healthy soil with good water drainage to thrive, so taking care of our soil is always a priority. "One of the things about soil is that it is an aggregation of many different things. Without microorganisms, it is just dirt. Soil has character and is full of life," said Fred Cowell, Kauai Coffee General Manager. "There are more microbes in a tablespoon of soil than humans on Earth," he continued.
Kauai Coffee Company has one of Hawaii's most extensive on-farm compost operations and drip irrigation systems. Nearly five million pounds of coffee fruit waste is composted and put back into the soil as a nutrient every year. Additionally, more than 2,500 miles of drip tubing efficiently applies water and fertilizers directly to the roots of the trees, so we do not have to spray or dust fertilizer on our coffee farm. Our orchard crew works hard to care for the soil, water resources, and infrastructure to ensure our trees stay healthy and productive.
The coffee bean you grind and brew to make your morning cup is the seed of the coffee cherry, and after harvest, the fruit must be removed before the bean can be dried and roasted. There are a few methods for removing the coffee fruit and other protective layers from the seed. We use a wet or washed process for most of our coffee cherries at Kauai Coffee. First, harvested cherries are placed into a water system to separate the ripe cherries from under-ripe cherries. Over ripe cherries float on top of the water while the denser, ripe cherries sink to the bottom.
Once the cherries are separated, a mechanical pulper strips the ripe fruit from the bean. Then the coffee beans ferment in clean water to break up the mucilage layer so it can be washed away. After washing, the coffee beans are dried, rested, and sorted by size and shape. Following sorting, the final protective parchment layer is removed from the dried coffee beans, and green coffee is bagged and prepared for roasting.
Quality Control and Cupping
We use a lot of technology and state-of-the-art equipment to grow, harvest, and process Kauai Coffee, but when it comes to quality control, some things require an expert touch. From assessing cherry density and composition to green beans, you won't find better than our lab control analysts.
Coffee cupping also takes place behind the scenes and is a tasting technique used by professional Q graders to ensure the quality of a particular coffee. We are fortunate to have two licensed Q graders on staff who sample every batch. It's a serious task, but a few laughs and smiles are inevitable when Kauai Coffee is involved!
One thing that makes 100% Kauai Coffee unique is that every step from seed to cup, takes place on our Estate and under our care. Our roasting process is no exception. During peak roasting times, our staff and equipment can roast between 28 and 32 100-pound batches per day or an average of 78,000 pounds per month!
Retail, Visitor Services, and E-Commerce
The Visitor Center is always buzzing with excitement and caffeine! However, most Kauai visitors come to the island between December and April, making this time of year an enjoyable and busy time at the Estate. Our Visitor Center staff, tour guides, and retail associates are always full of aloha and greet approximately 1,000 visitors daily!
Next time you fill your mug with 100% Kauai Coffee, rest assured that you are drinking premium Hawaiian coffee cared for with aloha from seed to cup. Shop online for our top-of-the-crop Estate Reserve and 100% Kauai Coffees now.
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