Mark Twain says it so eloquently, "Kona Coffee has a richer flavor than any other, be it grown where it may and call it by what name you please." 1866, Letters from Hawaii. His judgment holds firm today. The Hawaiian Islands with their warm, moist south seas climate and rich volcanic soils, are the only place in the U.S. where coffee grows and thrives.

The site is stunning from the air, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the volcanic mountains that form the Big Island of Hawaii, thrust up from out of the ocean, godlike in their grandeur. Along the southwestern slopes of the Mauna Loa hidden somewhere in all the volcanic mountain tops lava and greenery, is a coffee lovers paradise - The Kona Coffee Belt. A group of farms that for more than a century have hand cultivated small crops of gourmet beans that are among the most treasured in the world. As you read about what goes on beyond the water, sit down and enjoy a fresh cup of Pure Kona Coffee.

The Kona Coffee Belt is sparsely populated and home to many immigrants, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Samoans and "Haoles", the term used to refer to Caucasians with roots deep in Hawaiian soil, all third and fourth generation coffee farmers with extraordinary stories. It seems among the residents, no matter their ethnic origins, they all know each other and work together in perfect harmony, sharing one common bond, their passion for Kona Coffee. For the farmers it is more than coffee, it is a way of life. The "Aloha Spirit" is captured in the passion for meticulous painstaking work, growing, cultivating and processing Kona Coffee. The Kona Coffee belt, marked 180 on the highway map, is home to more than 500 farms, most of which are 3 to 5 acres with modest facilities and equipment. These farms total approximately 2000 acres of planted coffee which annually yields 2 million pounds of beans. Brazil, on the other hand, accounts for more than 1 billion pounds of beans per year.

In the springtime, mature coffee trees burst into bloom, covering the landscape with fragrant white blossoms. Coffee trees can take up to 5 years to mature and the older plants yield a better flavored bean. From the time of blossom on, teams of skilled workers tend each plant. They prune, water and mange soil content, pest control and exposure to sunlight of each branch loaded with buds. During the growing period, each plant will receive ongoing personal attention and grooming and that's just the beginning.

Kona's coffee berries are harvested one at a time. Beginning in the late summer, the picking teams inspect every plant, every cherry. When the cheery is ripe, with the proper color of deep rich red, only then is it deemed ready to pick. Even on the same branch, the cherries will ripen at a varying pace. The teams of pickers spend days evaluating and selecting each cherry until they are all in.

This individualized attention continues into the processing. After picking, a procedure called pulping removes the outer red skin and brings forth the precious seed inside, usually two seeds to each cherry. Pulping is the key step in processing of Kona Coffee.

After pulping there is another round of inspection and selection. By putting the seeds in a shallow pan of water, they separate the "floaters", seeds that are empty or not ripe enough. "Pea Berries", cherries with only one seed, are separated and sold as a delicacy. They are round in shape and have received more nutrients from the plant. Therefore they are more flavorful and command a higher price on the market.

The seeds are then laid out in the sunshine to dry. They are raked and turned until what emerges is a stiff white skin called parchment. The parchment is then removed through a process called milling. The result of this scrutiny is a small harvest of highly cultured pearls, green beans of exceptional quality and character.

Before the beans can be sold, they must undergo stringent grading standards. The Kona Coffee council and Hawaii's Department of Agriculture have developed strict certification standards that must be applied to every bean. These standards are designed to protect the consumer and to protect the integrity of the Kona product. The process demands workers with enormous skill, patience and experience. The workers in Kona all have these qualities and paying them costs.

Kona Coffee in it's pure variety, not blended with any other coffee, commands $25.00 to $30.00 a pound on the retail market. The profit margin in Kona Coffee is skinny. As massive as the gourmet coffee industry has grown, with over 500,000 gourmet coffee shops currently in the USA, very few offer 100% Kona, by the bean or by the cup. It's low profit margin and availability account for the fact that Kona is difficult to find.

The Bad Ass Coffee Company proudly brews Kona Coffee every day in every store. Why? Because we believe that you are worth it. Take home a bag of beans today.

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