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