Older kids, young adults and parents who love coffee can learn more about one of the most famous coffee-growing locations in the world via a private Kona coffee farm tour at Pele Plantation, a certified organic Kona coffee farm overlooking the Kealakekua and Honaunau bays in South Kona on the island of Hawai’i, also known at the Big Island.
The tours, free but must be reserved in advance, are customized according to the size and interests of your family group, last about 90 minutes and offer a relaxed, friendly look at the organic production of this highly sought-after local brew.
Lots of companies sell what they call Kona blend, which typically comprises some Kona added to less expensive beans from — well, who knows? The coffee from Pele, on the other hand, is the real deal. Grown on the volcanic slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the north and south Kona Districts of Hawai’i, the coffee is 100 percent pure Kona and is, in fact, one of only a handful of farms that sell the beans, some of which they grow themselves and some they procure from local farmers.
“Working with neighboring farmers we know and trust gives us total control over the product,” said Melanie Korn, owner, Pele Plantations. “Each individual farm’s coffee is kept separate and packaged as a unique product. That means customers can expect the same quality and flavor every time they order their favorite coffee, year after year. We are also fanatical about freshness: we ship coffee to our customers the same day we roast it. It goes directly from the farm to your cup in a couple of days.”
In addition to the organic Kona varieties, true coffee connoisseurs might be able to taste Kona Peaberry, a rare product created from a mutation that occurs naturally in only 3–4 percent of the coffee beans and which produces intense flavor.
Free tours are available Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings and are private, meaning Korn, your guide, will tailor the experience to the participants, including individuals, couples and small groups. Because the plantation is a small working family farm rather than a retail outlet or factory, families do need to make an advance appointment.
Designed to be friendly and informal, the tour lasts about an hour and a half and offers an up-close-and-personal look at the coffee plants, the growing process and an explanation of the differences between organic and non-organic procedures.
You will also learn about the various types of coffee beans, known in the industry as cherries, as well as the picking and roasting processes and all stages of coffee production.
Finally, so participants can get a taste of what all the fuss is about, the tour ends — how else? — with a cup of freshly ground, freshly brewed Kona coffee.
Various coffee products are available for purchase, but there is no hard sell to buy anything. Anyone who does become a hard-core addict can subscribe to the Pele Plantations Coffee Club for a regular delivery of fresh-roasted coffee at a 10 percent discount.
Pele Plantations estate coffees are also available for purchase in resort shops at the Four Seasons Resorts in Ko Olina on Oahu and Wailea on Maui, as well as at Trading Company at Four Seasons Hualalai Resort on the Big Island.