It seems like Kona coffee farmers can’t catch a break. After dealing with the devastating coffee borer beetle for the past two years, Hawaii lawmakers are looking to pass House Bill 280 into law. House Bill 280 aims to change the requirements for labeling Kona coffee. Currently, Kona coffee growers are required by law to have their coffee inspected by the Department of Agriculture to certify the premium coffee’s origins before labeling it Kona coffee. However, if House Bill 280 is signed into law, this mandatory measure will become a voluntary measure for Kona coffee growers.
Lawmakers pushed the bill through both the House and Senate in order to address the Department of Agriculture’s shortage of staff. Due to extensive budget cuts, the Department of Agriculture has laid off all the coffee inspectors on the westside of the Big Island, except for one position.
If House Bill 280 is signed into law by Governor Abercrombie, coffee growers will be the ones verifying that the coffee they are selling is Kona coffee. To put this in context, this would be like having a child grade their own tests in school, without any teacher supervising that they actually graded it correctly and honestly.
Ultimately, the bill will increase the likelihood that consumers buying premium coffee labeled as Kona will not actually have any Kona coffee. The Kona Coffee Farmer’s Association has already battled numerous businesses that label non-Hawaiian coffee as Kona coffee. The associations last battle was against Safeway improperly labeling coffee. While the Kona Coffee Farmer’s Association’s battle is far from over, these tight knit group of farmer’s won’t be going down without a fight.
Myth versus Fact
What do you know about Peaberry coffee? You most certainly know it is an expensive, premium coffee. Perhaps you even know that it is rare, occurring only in 4% to 8% of all coffee grown around the world. However, what you don’t know about Peaberry coffee might just turn your cup of coffee cold.
Are any of these Hawaiian Coffee Cherry's holding a Peaberry?
First and foremost, Peaberry coffee is one bean, not two. Normally, a coffee cherry grows two halves of a bean inside the berry, which we consider two beans. These two beans, which look surprisingly like a a peanut, are normal coffee beans. Sometimes though, the coffee cherry produces a single bean. The single bean is Peaberry coffee, and is small and round.
So this single bean is special, right? Yes and No. Biologically, yes, it is special since it is an anomaly of nature. How about taste? That answer isn’t quite so black and white. While some coffee aficionado’s have argued that Peaberry coffee has an unique, robust flavor, other serious coffee lovers believe it tastes no different than regular, two bean coffee.
Who to believe? Well, it really depends if you are a skeptic or not. However, just the other week Dr. Shawn Steiman, otherwise known as Dr. Coffee (he has a Ph. D from the University of Hawaii in coffee) and author of The Hawaii Coffee Book, told a group of coffee drinkers that 15 years ago, Peaberry coffee was considered inferior to two bean coffee. With the single bean being smaller, coffee farmers looked at these small, runty beans and wondered how they could sell them. Enter a brilliant marketer, and now you have a market of rare coffee, not inferior coffee. It is also worth noting that Dr. Steiman believes Peaberry coffee tastes exactly the same as regular coffee.
There is good news for Hawaii coffee aficionados. The City of Honolulu recently announced they will fulfill a mandate of the Hawaii Constitution to protect agricultural lands on Oahu. Over the next year, important agricultural lands will be identified in order to help maintain food security here in Hawaii. These agricultural lands will be protected from development, unless reclassified by a vote from the Land Use Commission. Additionally, the mandate will help promote more diversified agriculture in the islands.
Waialua Agricultural Land
What does this mean for Hawaiian coffee?
While the agriculture land has not been identified yet, we here at North Shore Hawaiian Coffee feel confident the coffee fields of Waialua will be selected. How could they not? Not only do the Waialua coffee fields produce some of the finest coffee beans in the world, but they are located in one of the most gorgeous locales here on Oahu. And have we mentioned that Hawaii is the only state in the Union that grows coffee? Should be a no brainer.
The City of Honolulu plans to spend $200,000 in the following year in order to identify Oahu’s prime agricultural land. Until 2013, fear not Hawaiian coffee drinkers, just keep enjoying premium Hawaiian coffee and lets remind the government to Keep the Country Coffee.
Can anyone of our Hawaii coffee drinkers tell us where this is on the North Shore of Hawaii?
Close your eyes and imagine this view the next time you enjoy a cup of premium Hawaii coffee
Here’s a hint. The place was bestowed its English name by a real estate developer that tried to sell weekend homes to Honolulu families back in the early 20th century.
While most of us do not enjoy the thought of a new tax, Kona coffee farmers are asking State of Hawaii lawmakers to introduce a bill that will place a tax of one penny on every pound of green coffee that enters or leaves the state. This new revenue will then be used to eradicate the coffee borer beetle that has been decimating Kona’s coffee crop for over a year now.
Kona coffee farmers have already been waging a battle against the coffee borer beetle. The borer beetle has caused the price of this premium Hawaii coffee to go up significantly this past year. If the bill gets passed, the tax will pay for state employees to remove all diseased coffee trees from the area.
Most Kona coffee farmers are already fighting the beetle on their own farms. However, the diligence of one farmer does not equal success against the beetle. This is because the coffee borer beetle continues to infest the coffee trees of farmers who are negligent, as well as from feral coffee trees in the area. The bill, if passed, will also allow the State of Hawaii to condemn a coffee farmer’s land if they do not help to contain the spread of the borer beetle.
So what does this mean for Hawaii coffee aficionados? If the bill is passed, you will pay an extra cent for your cup of coffee. If you are buying a pound of coffee beans, you will pay an extra cent. Paying a penny is a small price to pay to help save this premium Hawaii coffee. This penny tax is needed so that one of the world’s greatest coffees will survive for generations of coffee drinkers to enjoy.
Aloha, and welcome to our humble little coffee blog.
Here at North Shore Hawaiian Coffee, we are passionate about premium Hawaii coffee, in particular, coffee grown on the island of Oahu. While we love Kona coffee (seriously, who doesn’t love Kona coffee?), the world already knows how great Kona coffee is. Thus, our mission is to let the world know how great Oahu’s Waialua coffee truly is.
Waialua coffee berries
While it may be fairly obvious the rich volcanic soils of the Hawaiian Islands produce great coffee beans, some of our customers wonder what the difference is between Kona coffee and Waialua coffee? Quite simply, the difference is geographical. Kona coffee is grown on the western side of the island of Hawaii (also known as the Big Island). Waialua coffee is grown on the Wahiawa Plateau, overlooking the famous North Shore of Oahu. What these coffees have in common is that both coffee beans are species of coffee arabica (which is coffee that is indigenous to the mountains of the Arabian Peninsula). Also, both coffees originally come from coffee trees that the Royal Governor of Oahu, Chief Boki, brought back from Brazil aboard the HMS Blonde in 1825. While these coffee trees were originally planted on Oahu’s Manoa Valley (home to the University of Hawaii), some coffee trees were taken over to the Big Island by Samuel Ruggles in 1828. Ruggles then planted these coffee trees on the Kona coast, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But enough about history. We love coffee. And we especially love Hawaiian premium coffee. With our blog, we aim to bring you stories about different Hawaiian coffees, news about the Hawaiian coffee industry, and show you some great cafes here in Hawaii where we enjoy drinking our favorite beverage.
Until we meet again, enjoy Hawaiian premium coffee and help us Keep the Country Coffee.