Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!
As October approaches and the Pleiades constellation grows near, we begin harvest again on our farm and with that, prepare to celebrate Makahiki season.
Makahiki is an ancient Hawaiian festival, honoring the Hawaiian god Lono, who is associated through agriculture with rain and food bearing plants. This festive holiday spans four consecutive lunar months, from approximately October through February. The focus of the season is a celebration of the ʻaina (land), fertility and the harvest. It's also where we got the name for our 10% Kona blend, Makahiki.
Harvest on our Farm
This year's Kona harvest looks promising, though farming has been a challenge, as many factors outside of our control caused issues this year, namely coffee leaf rust and a record amount of rainfall.
As we reported last year, coffee leaf rust, a fungus that attacks the leaves of the plant, was discovered last fall in Maui for the first time ever in Hawaii. Coffee leaf rust has since spread to all of the islands. We identified it on our farm, but we have managed it well and it will not be a factor in this year's harvest. We pruned heavily during the offseason, which helped to strengthen the trees and promote new growth this year.
Unfortunately, we have had a record amount of rainfall this year which could slightly affect yield. Most likely, the extra rain will lengthen our picking window, as the cherries will take a little longer to ripen at higher elevations and will need to be picked more gradually than usual.
We also have a few projects we are working on the farm, including picking some naturally or dry processed Kona coffee, hopefully in time for the holidays. We’ve processed some small amounts of coffee in this way in the past. Kona is not as warm as many growing regions around the world, so we will probably see some longer drying times with these methods, but we can’t wait to taste the results!
The other major project this year was heavy pruning, as a protection against leaf rust. We pruned almost 40% of the plants on the farm. None of the coffee pruned had leaf rust present, but pruning this year means that the next year’s growth will make the plants stronger and more resistant to rust in the future.
Currently, the Kona farm is planted with the following coffee varieties:
- ~95% Typica
- ~5% Caturra
- Less than 1% Yellow Typica
Of the 75 acres on the farm, 55 are planted with coffee, while the remainder is untouched native Hawaiian ohia forest. Those 55 acres produce about 200,000 pounds of coffee cherry, which after processing typically yields around 30,000-35,000 pounds of green coffee. We also have an additional 150 adjoining acres that is currently a mix of forest and open pasture land. The ohia forests will remain, preserving the natural Hawaiian ecosystem, but we plan on cultivating the open pasture in future years, to bring you more delicious Kona coffee.
We look forward to sending updates as the harvest progresses.
FRESHLY ROASTED, FRESHLY GROWN: HONOLULU COFFEE'S KONA COFFEE FARM