Growing and Processing Kona Coffee
Kona coffee begins flowering in the first few months of the year, but depending on rainfall flowering can occur at anytime. It is a beautiful sight when coffee trees are in bloom with thousands of little white flowers. A few months after the coffee flowers, green berries begin to appear on the trees. It will then take a few more months for the green berries to turn to a red fruit, called “cherry”. The harvest season can last for as long as six months. Normally, the first couple harvest will yield the most cherry. Adult trees can bear as much as 40 pounds of cherry on a good year. Although, that sounds like a lot of coffee, one thousand pounds of cherry will only yield about 150 pounds of coffee beans after all the processing is complete.
Within a day after harvest, the cherry must be pulped. The pulping process separates the beans from the pulp. The beans are then soaked and will begin to ferment. The fermentation process takes another day. The beans are put on a drying rack and rinsed. It will take about one to two weeks for the beans to dry. It can be faster, but with the humidity in Hawaii, it is better to wait until the beans are about 9.5%. Konas beautiful weather makes it the perfect place not only to grow coffee, but also to dry the beans in the warm sun. Beans can be measured for moisture with an old fashioned farming aide called a “dicky-John”. Once dry, beans are stored. This stage is called parchment. Parchment is a thin paper shell that is milled off just before the beans are ready to be roasted. Beans can be stored in the parchment stage and will cure nicely in a temperature-controlled environment.
The ratio of cherry to roasted coffee beans is about 7 to 1. Growing and harvesting coffee is a long process that takes goes through many phases. For those of us who love to drink 100% Kona coffee it makes it all the work worthwhile!