Touring a Kona Coffee farm and seeing red hot flowing lava were the only two things Brian really wanted to do on our family vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii that were non-negotiable. So when I did my research to find fun things to do in Hawaii with kids, I made sure to include at least a few different Kona Coffee Farms on my list.
Sitting at 3,200 feet in elevation, Mountain Thunder is an award-winning, family owned and operated, organic Kona Coffee plantation in the Kaloko Cloud Forest of Kailua Kona, Hawaii.
We parked along the side of the road across from the welcome gates, and when we walked into the wide entry area, we were greeted by friendly faces, inviting us to sample their 100% Premium Private Reserve Kona Coffee and teas. Unlike Hula Daddy Kona Coffee who begins your tour when you arrive, Mountain Thunder tours run on the hour, so there were several other groups milling around and sitting at the tables waiting for the tour to start.
While we waited, Natalie and I sampled all of the teas, Brian sampled the coffee, and we peeked inside the gift shop. Cats and dogs, chickens and roosters were also milling about the property, and Carter kept busy following the chickens around!
When it was time for the tour to start, everyone was gathered together near the tables and our guide began teaching us about the coffee farming process. I have to say this wasn’t really a tour though, because we didn’t walk around much. It was more of a lecture or talk with visual aids and delicious samples. With that said, we learned about the coffee trees, the coffee cherries, how they are dried and sorted, peaberries, which roasts have the most caffeine and which roasts have the least, how the roast determines the flavor, the differences between regular and decaf coffee, and how the coffee farming process if different for organic coffee farms.
This wasn’t our first Kona Coffee farm tour, but we all still learned something new and had a great time.
The Best Tasting Kona Coffee
As I said, touring a Kona Coffee farm and seeing red hot flowing lava were the only two things Brian really wanted to do on our family vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii. He is a coffee lover and pretty much believes it’s the thing he loves the most, second to the kids and I of course. After sampling 100% Kona Coffee at Mountain Thunder, Hula Daddy, Kona Joe’s, and Royal Kona, he said that hands down, Mountain Thunder had the best tasting Kona Coffee. Their samples are the 100% Premium Private Reserve coffee brewed as a 6 oz Americano-style coffee — which Brian loves.
They also had three types of teas available to taste, which I loved, because I’m not a coffee drinker. Natalie tried the “donkey balls,” also known as chocolate covered peaberries, and was an immediate fan. Needless to say we purchased a large bag of their Kona Coffee and the chocolate covered peaberries to snack on in the car!
Plus, we love that Mountain Thunder is an organic farm.
A Modified Coffee Tour?
We stopped at Mountain Thunder because I had read on their website that the free tour walks visitors through the entire tree to cup process, including growing, dry-milling, sizing, gravity table, color sorting, and tasting, as well as tours of the coffee bean roasting facility and the coffee bagging facility. But that’s not what we got. Instead our entire tour lasted about 20 minutes and the entire thing was held in the main entry of the property right next to the gift shop.
While our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly and he showed us samples of the coffee cherries and how the beans are sorted by size, I was a bit bummed that we didn’t get to see the coffee trees, dry-milling, roasting, or bagging portions of the tour.
Apparently the business is having some legal and financial troubles, so that may explain why the full free tour wasn’t given. West Hawaii Today reports that Mountain Thunder Coffee was closing for good on January 27, 2017 and in another article dated January 28, 2017, they report that tours are resuming&hellp; But we visited in late February 2017 and it was open and giving modified tours.
Because the coffee was just that fantastic, I still recommend you check them our for a tour, but it may be a good idea to call ahead to make sure they’re open.
About Mountain Thunder Kona Coffee
Mountain Thunder is a family owned and operated, organic coffee plantation in the Kaloko Cloud Forest of Kailua Kona, Hawaii. The business was founded by Trent A. Bateman, a Southern Californian who owned an oil well repair business, a machine shop. He sold his businesses and in 2008 moved to Hawaii permanently to live on his new coffee farm. Eventually he expanded the Mountain Thunder coffee operation, planted Kona Coffee trees, and the rest is history. Since then, Mountain Thunder Kona Coffee has been featured on televisions shows such as Dirty Jobs, A Taste For Adventure, Unwrapped, and Weather Ventures.
Mountain Thunder is certified Kosher by K-OFK, certified organic by GOCA, and they earned the Seal of Quality from the State of Hawaii.
They have been recognized by Kona Farmers Association, The Kona Coffee Council, Whole Foods, The Hawaii Coffee Association, SIAL, and the SCAA, and have won 14 awards from different areas of scrutiny such as chef’s choice, people’s choice, newspaper polls, and barrista championships. In fact, Mountain Thunder has won so many awards that they now judge the most prestigious cupping contest in Kona — they direct Gevalia’s Kona Coffee Cultural Festival’s Kona Coffee Cupping Contest.
Know Before You Go
- Mountain Thunder Kona Coffee Tours are held Monday through Sunday at 73-1944 Hao Street in Kaloko Mauka, Kona, Hawaii 96740.
- Free Tours begin on the hour every hour beginning at 10:00 am. The last tour of the day is at 4:00 pm. VIP tours start at 10:00am. Japanese language tours are available Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
- While waiting for a tour to begin, watch Discovery Channel’s Mike Rowe as he tours the organic Kona Coffee farm and facilities from composting to cup.