Coffee From Hawaii – Kona Coffee History
How did this attractive tree brought into Honolulu in about 1813 by Kamehameha the Great’s Spanish translator and medical doctor Don Francisco de Paula y Marin become Kona’s economic mainstay?
Coffee Trees showed up in Hawaii in the early 1800’s. The British warship H.M.S. Blonde brought coffee trees, to Hawaii, from Brazil in 1825. Chief Boki, Governor of Oahu, had purchased coffee trees in Rio de Janeiro, on his way returning from London.
The coffee was selected and planted in Manoa Valley on Oahu, and from a small area, trees were brought in to other areas of Oahu and neighboring islands. Reverend Samuel Ruggles transferred trees to Captain Cook, Kona in 1828. Hanalei Valley on the North Shore of Kauai was home to the first coffee plantation. Coffee was founded in the valley in 1842, however was easily wiped out in 1858 by coffee blight, a scale insect.
In the late 1800’s efforts to establish coffee plantations were beaten by financial aspects. Small farms averaging fewer than 5-acres in size changed the Kona coffee plantations.
By the 1930’s there were more than 1,000 farms and as delayed as the 1950’s there where 6,000 acres of coffee in Kona. At the turn of the last century there was coffee on all the major Hawaii islands, and now 100 years later, there is once again coffee on all the major islands. There are 6,500 acres in coffee state-wide and yearly production is 6 to 7 million pounds green bean.
Today many Kona farmers can lay affirm to truly being fifth generation coffee farmers. Coffee is an economic mainstay of Kona, where farmers continue on the tradition and pay tribute to their traditions with every single harvest.
Kona Coffee Has Royal Ties
It’s a rarely recognized truth, but one of the mainstays of the world famous Kona coffee industry is an institution that has hardly ever grown a coffee tree, never gathered a crop and never roasted a bean. And, likely, many coffee farmers work hard in the field give minimal thought the reality that the land from which they gather their harvest has an immediate connection to King Kamehameha the Great, the warrior king who first united the Hawaiian Islands.