B reviews,  travel

Retro-blogging part 2: Kona Coffee!

Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation

Toby had to work nearly every day while we were in Hawaii but on Friday he pulled himself away from the job site and took us to a coffee plantation! If you know me, you know what a happy caffeine addict I am and you know that visiting the source has got to be top on my list of things I want to do before I die.

When I was a kid, my parents used to take us on all kinds of tours of factories and facilities where things are made as a fun thing to do for vacations. Usually tours are free and it’s a great way to learn things hands on. I love tours. I’ve seen how apple juice is made, how paper is made, how tequila is made, how money is made… I am not really a science geek (I wish I were) but I love that show How It’s Made.

So naturally visiting The Mountain Thunder Plantation was a dream come true for me. Not to mention Baby Bug and I had strollered almost every last nook of Kona so anything new was very exciting.

It wasn’t what I imagined it would be with fields and fields of misty coffee bean trees growing in concentric rows around the side of a mountain. In fact, we didn’t even get to see the fields. I asked about them and a ranch hand told me it was a trek into jungle and not open to the public. Too bad though because I totally had my heart set on taking that picture of those misty rows of trees. It was not to be.

drinking some brew

I did however get to sample the best of the best organically-grown Peaberry Kona Coffee and yes, it was good. I’m usually a cream and sugar sort of gal and this coffee was so good I drank it black. Mostly because they only offered powdered creamer and I’m just a snob about powdered stuff but it really didn’t need it. It was yummy!

Mountain Thunder Cat

While you enjoy your free cup of coffee, they show you a video of Mike Rowe (the guy from Dirty Jobs) visiting the plantation. It was a pretty funny show and sort of made me thankful that they weren’t going to allow us to see the whole complete coffee process where they ferment the beans with goat manure! Ew! I had no idea that that was how coffee was made.

Why is it that I love this stuff again? Oh, right. Because I am ADDICTED.

me and bb and the Mountain Thunder cat

Then we got to know the local cat. Baby Bug LOVED the local cat.

I think she misses her cats

I think she was missing her cats back home because she got right down on the ground and rolled around with him. He really was a nice kitty. Maybe the coffee plantation was worth visiting just for him. I never did get his name though.

bags of unroasted coffee

After we socialized with the cat for quite a while we took a tour of their dry mill and learned all about what is good coffee and what is not-so-good coffee. You know how I’m so addicted to Starbucks? It turns out I’m not such a snob after all and I do not have good taste at all. Mountain Thunders sends their REJECT beans to Starbucks. Hah!

It’s all about the roast. You can pretty much hide any defect in coffee beans by roasting it darker and darker. Who knew! I love dark roast coffee so I guess they are pulling a fast one on me.

I guess most coffee drinkers are not morning people

The “good stuff” is very very expensive. Forty-five bucks for a little bag! So I guess that is why I’m not that big of a fan of Kona coffee. It’s not that it isn’t good, it’s just that all the hotels and restaurants that serve 100% Kona coffee are probably serving what they can afford and that is probably the lowest grade.

I really do not know what I’m talking about when it comes to being a coffee connoisseur. I’m only a self-proclaimed coffee expert because I drink it so much. I don’t know squat about the subtle hints and textures of coffee BUT I’ve noticed a very smokey ashtray flavor to the Kona coffee we had at the hotel. It could have been the pot it was brewed in or even maybe a disgruntled waiter ashed in my cup. Who knows.

But after visiting the plantation, I do see why Kona coffee has such a great reputation. It is very carefully grown in the best location possible by really nice people who care deeply about the quality of their product. So if you can afford it, I recommend sipping a cup of that $45 stuff. It’s probably worth every penny. If you can’t afford it, then just drink the dark roast and your tongue will never know the difference.


  • Chris

    I am envious of the tour- sounds like my kind of place! And BB with the cat is just adorable.

    Also- can I request that you sell a print or a digital download of the Coffee Good, Morning Bad photo on Etsy? I’d kill to have that hanging at my house. It’s like my motto or the story of my life. Pretty please???

  • glamgranola

    How cool! We are total coffee junkies at our house too. My husband can’t stand Starbucks and orders beans for us through coffeebeandirect.com. They roast your beans after you order and then they are shipped immediately. I happen to like Starbucks a lot, but the beans we order are pretty tasty too!

  • Sam

    I love that photo of the “Coffee Good Morning Bad” sign! Not that mornings are bad, but coffee is very, very good. You are adorable in your sundress and I’m loving these Hawaii posts – it’s almost as good as going on vacation myself!

  • Clownfish

    Sounds like the perfect day out for your family and that you all had a great time. As always, love the pictures and am living through them :-)

    Funny, you three are there in the islands and I’m here in Capistrano Beach through Thursday. Friday, of course, is D-Land.

    Aloha B!

  • Johanna I.

    I would also love some sort of print of the “Coffee Good Morning Bad” photo.

    Glad you had a good time! I got to go to Hawaii in ’06 and ’07 (for my wedding that time) but it’s probably not going to happen this year. Fortunately, I know of a lot of other people that get to go and will get to enjoy their pictures and stories. Thanks for sharing yours!

  • calee

    We also hate Starbucks and have embraced total coffee snobdom–we roast our own beans. Yep, our OC backyard often smells like burnt popcorn but oh, such good coffee! You can buy green beans for super cheap online and they’re much better quality then when you roast it fresh the flavor outperforms anything you’ll find. If you aren’t willing to go the whole roast it yourself bit, Pete’s coffee roasts fresh and we’ve been pretty happy with their brew.

    Thanks for coming home. I found your blog about a month ago and it’s like, well, coffee. Me and my own little bug need it!

  • a madhouse wife

    I’m not a coffee snob (I can’t get anything good around here), but I’m feelin’ ya on being a creamer snob. I won’t touch that powdered stuff…well, unless there’s nothing else.

  • BeachMama

    Yummy. Too bad you didn’t get to see the forest but if it is anything like Mexico, it’s pretty scary. And I am so glad you got a cup of the good stuff. My girlfriend brought me back some of the good stuff and man oh man I could go broke buying that. My Sister brought be back some, not the best so yes, there is a difference :). Glad you were able to go. And how cute about the cat!

  • MamaPajama

    Me too! Me too! I want a print of “Coffee Good, Morning Bad!” Etsy–or I can send check or do PayPal. I need at least three copies.

  • Nix

    I love coffee cat and how your daughter was interacting with him. The photos are great and it looks like you had a wonderful time.

  • Mary

    Reading your posts about your trip and looking at your wonderful pictures has been such a treat! Thank you for sharing with the rest of the world what must have been a lovely vacation.

  • Sistina

    How do you think Starbucks got the nickname Char-bucks? It tastes like burnt. We buy coffee from a local shop that roasts their own beans. It’s around $11 a pound. I’m sure it’s no Kona, but it will do.
    Great pics! Glad it was fun!

  • Kuky

    I love tours. I remember going on an awesome tour when we went to Hawaii when I was little. Don’t ask me what it was about though. I was little. But it was AWESOME! And I’ve been on a money making tour before too. And that show, How’s It Made, is soooo very interesting. I don’t watch it frequently though, only if they’re making something I’m interested in.

    And goat manure?!?!? Eeeeewww!!! You should have seen the look on my face when I read that part.

  • Katrina

    Wow, I love your retro-blogging. Just writing everything down will help you remember. I, too, would love a print of that sign. Your artwork is fantastic, but your photography is just as good. Hey, I’d even buy the actual sign if you wanted to reproduce it in your artistic way!