Guests can learn the secrets of Kona's world-famous coffee at Greenwell Farms. // © 2011 Gum Design, LLC
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Whether you prefer basic drips or double lattes, most people donít think twice about the origins of their coffee.
However, that's less likely to be true on Hawaii's Big Island, home of world-famous Kona coffee. Visitors who want to learn more about coffee culture should pay a visit to Greenwell Farms, a working Kona coffee plantation.
Greenwell Farms' rich history spans four generations and dates back to 1850, when Englishman Henry Nicholas Greenwell first set foot on the fertile soil of rural Kona. Today, the farm is located next to Greenwellís ancestral home now occupied by the Kona Historical Society and Museum.
"Everything about the excellence that is Kona coffee and Greenwell Farms can be traced back to the high standards set in 1850," said Greenwell's great-great-great grandson Tom Greenwell, who now runs the company. "Some of our coffee trees were actually planted by my great-great grandmother. Itís our history and the story of our land that make our tour unique."
Greenwell Farms' knowledgeable guides help visitors understand how Kona coffee is created, from the growing, harvesting, processing and roasting of the beans, to the packaging of the final product. At the end of the tour, clients can sample an array of blends and brews, then purchase their preferred product in the farm's retail center. (The farm's website was recently revamped to make online ordering a snap, too.)
"Through the tour, tastings and personal touch that we give each visitor, we hope to gain friends who reach out to our farm once they get back home, because they want Kona coffee in their cup," said Greenwell.
So what makes Kona coffee so eye-opening? Greenwell described it as "an extremely balanced coffee between body, acidity, flavor and aroma, making it very smooth to the taste."
He noted that, for the most part, arabica typica -- the type of coffee cultivated in Kona -- is not grown in the rest of the world due to diseases and pests.
"The microclimate in Kona is as perfect as it could be for coffee production, with our timely rainfall, moderate temperature, latitude, elevation and lack of strong winds," said Greenwell, who currently doubles as Hawaii Coffee Association president. "Our young volcanic soils contain most of the nutrients that coffee trees thrive on. Our trees have been known to grow up to 125 years while still producing, which is unusual in other producing destinations."
Clearly, Greenwell Farms has found a recipe for success, as evidenced by its many accolades. In 2010 it won the People's Choice award in the open division at the Cream of the Crop coffee tasting competition. Its current line ranges from a private reserve and macadamia nut blend to smooth, medium, dark and espresso roasts. And, in keeping with the farm's rich family history, it will soon be releasing a new variety called Jeni Kay -- named after Greenwell's wife.