Friday, January 1, 2016

Day 163 - Greenwell Coffee Farm and our First Lava Flow

On our way to a coffee farm we stopped where we saw a huge hedge of poinsettias and did some photo shooting there. What a wonderful red vivid color in the sunshine. Very interesting was the free tour around the Greenwell Coffee Farm. Maybe you know "Kona Coffee" from Starbucks or other caf├ęs. It is legal to call a coffee "Kona Coffee" even if only 10% of the beans actually were grown in Kona. Here in Kona, you can of course try 100% Kona coffee which is far better.

We learned that coffee trees can be harvested until they are around 150 years old. They flower once a year for only two days, and what a wonder, most of the really old coffee trees were in full blossom when we visited the coffee farm. Actually, they aren't supposed to flower at this time of the year. But the weather seems to be strange all over the world, and even the Big Island of Hawai'i has seen an exceptionally humid summer without the usual cool afternoon breezes. The trees themselves aren't very big, because they get cut every third year to not grow too big, and to not quit producing fruits. The fruits come out of the flower, of course, and turn from green to red. They're ripe when they're red, and in over 95% of the cases, they contain two yellowish white coffee beans. Nowadays the plant is optimized so that the beans can easily be squeezed out with two fingers, which wasn't the case earlier. Fruits with only one bean are processed separately and create a special flavor of coffee.

Using a kind of hamster wheel like machine, the coffee beans are sorted into size categories (so that they can be dried in a similar way). They are dried using flat roofed platform where the beans have to be turned every hour when cloudy and every 40 minutes when sunny. The dried beans and by stored for more than a year without reducing their quality. Then they are roasted for 10-15 minutes. In contrast to popular belief, the roasting time does not affect the strength of the coffee, but only the savoriness that is the lower, the longer the beans are roasted.

By the way, the green geckos that we loved so much on Christmas day are considered evil in Hawai'i! They were accidentally imported from Madagascar and suppress the native geckos which are brown and smaller.

After the coffee farm tour we made a short excursion towards the North Kona coast, to the Manini'owali (or shorter: Kua) beach. This was our first lava road that nearly broke our rental car. We drove very slow and careful to avoid damage, but saw even Mustang cars driving on that rough road... Unfortunately we didn't see any turtles at the beach, but had a nice walk over lava flows which I still could remember from my childhood memories.

Most probably this is one of the many places where ancient
Hawaiians carved a flat lava stone to serve as a board for "Konane",
their popular game with black (lava) and white (coral) pebbles

It was easier to navigate on lava than on worn-out asphalt pieces

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