It was already early afternoon, we had already visited Hula Daddy Kona Coffee and Mountain Thunder Kona Coffee, and we weren’t sure if we wanted to visit another Kona Coffee farm or go do something else. The four of us debated, but ultimately a visit to Kona Joe Coffee won out because their coffee farm is unlike all of the other coffee farms. It is the world’s first trellised coffee plantation with the patent to prove it, and I definitely wanted to see that! Plus, after checking out their website and learning that they also serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we were committed — partly because we were starving and wanted to eat lunch!
Established in 1994, Kona Joe Coffee is a family owned, 20-acre estate located in the Gold Belt of the Kona Coffee District, on the western slopes of the majestic Mauna Loa Volcano.
When we arrived at the Kona Joe Coffee Farm, we immediately noticed the trees planted and grown in long trellised rows just like the wineries in Napa Valley, California grow wine grapes. The plantation follows the gentle slope of the land, and even in the foggy afternoon air, the grounds were beautiful with westward views of the Kona Coast and the Pacific Ocean.
The facility was much larger than the other coffee farms, with a large store, clean restrooms, roasting and packaging rooms, and a cafe area — and there were only a couple other people there at the same time we were. We were impressed and looked forward to learning more about the coffee farm, their unique way of growing and harvesting coffee berries, and grabbing some food!
But here’s the problem. No one greeted us, no one came and said hello, and no one introduced themselves — the woman working behind the counter in the cafe area didn’t even acknowledge us after we came in and sat down. The other coffee farms were so welcoming, friendly, and excited to talk with us, but at Kona Joe, it was like no one cared. It was totally weird.
We were interested in doing a tour, but there was no information. So we thought, hey, let’s do the self guided tour, but we had no idea what we were supposed to be looking at. It was frustrating. Needless to say, we gave up on getting some food. We peeked our heads in the roasting and packaging room, but it was empty. So we all just took the opportunity to use the restrooms before heading to Holy Donuts, Huliheʻe Palace, Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and St. Benedictine’s Painted Church.
While I was waiting for the kids, I did stop in the store to look around. The only person to speak to us at Kona Joe was the guy working behind the counter. At least he offered us free samples of the chocolate covered peaberries in both chocolate and white chocolate. Even though I’m not a coffee drinker, I also sampled the Macadamia Nut Kona Blend because I love macadamia nuts, and it was really, really good. We may have even bought some if our experience had been better. But instead, we just bought a small bag of white chocolate covered peaberries on our way to the car.
About Kona Joe Coffee
Joe Alban, a former orthopedic surgeon, traveled to Hawaii, fell in love with his wife, met a wild dolphin, and planted a coffee garden. Today he is known as Kona Joe with a 20 acre coffee farm.
Kona Joe Coffee uses the same principles as the world’s finest wine producers to cultivate our award-winning Kona Joe Trellised Coffee. The inspiration for adapting traditional viticultural practices to coffee growing came from Alban’s family vineyard, Alban Vineyards, an award-winning vineyard and winery located on the Central Coast of California.
Kona Joe does not use any herbicides or pesticides on trees, and use organic farming practices whenever possible. Kona Joe coffee berriess are hand-picked only when they have achieved their optimum maturity and then hand-sorted for optimum quality. The sugar content is evaluated by refractometry and titration, the same techniques preferred by expert winemakers. Kona Joe coffees are dried using a combination of mechanical and sun drying.
Know Before You Go
- Kona Joe is the world’s first trellised coffee plantation, located at 79-7346 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, Hawaii 96750.
- Kona Joe Coffee is open daily, including major holidays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Tours of Kona Joe Coffee are available from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Tours begin every hour on the hour.
- Self guided tours are free. Guided tours cost $15/adult with children 12 and under free. These tours last 35 minutes, includes a souvenir coffee mug and drink, and covers cultivation, processing, roasting, packaging, and tasting.