Mom and I have just arrived back from Kauai and try not to admit it too much lest we make our friends completely jealous. The trip was a gift to us, making it even more special. Our friends don’t tend to follow us on Instagram with the three people following us there and so may never even know about our coffee farm tour.
Without worrying too much about coffee academics, here are the cool little factoids from the tour.
I guess I’ve known that but when you see in person how it grows on a tree, it is quite evident that coffee beans are not beans.
Here it is growing and called a “cherry.” The skin is actually a bit cherry-like in texture, a bit bitter in flavor. If you think of a cherry with the fruit part and the pit, the coffee would-be-beans are the “pit” and a very thin layer covers them making them look and sort of taste like cherries.
The trees are small and produce a pound of “beans” each. They are planted 2-3 feet apart depending on the variety but you still don’t get a whole lot of bean out of an acre. On top of that, these trees are watered automatically every six hours and that is on top of the 25 inches of rain on that part of the island. These trees would absolutely bankrupt a California farmer.
These cherries are ready to harvest — the red and yellow are perfectly ripe, the green are under-ripe, and the brown are over-ripe. However, when they are harvested they all get shaken off together and then sorted. The ripe berries are used for more premium products and the rest used in some of those “flavored coffees” that seem to be popular in holiday gift baskets. You pay about the same for those bags as for the premium whole bean options making the flavored coffees a clever product for coffee manufacturers.
The skin is removed from the seeds and the seeds are dried and become a light-tan dry and hard “bean” that can be stored for years in a cool, dry place. Once they are roasted (at the somewhat shocking temperature of 1500 degrees), they turn dark and develop the coffee flavor we all love so much.
Should you find yourself in Kauai, we do recommend a tour at the Kauai Coffee Company on the south-west area of the island. Besides all of the free samples you can possibly manage, you can buy coffee in bulk to stuff in your suitcase.
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Taro root, an Asian food staple, if it doesn’t get washed away in a flash flood or eaten by birds and snails…
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