Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Next Juan Valdez

Today I harvested my first crop of home-grown Kona coffee. Three whole coffee beans! Technically, among horticulturalists, they're called coffee berries, or drupes. While my three beans aren't exactly a bumper crop, I'm still pretty proud of them. (Hey, do you know anyone else who has personally raised and harvested coffee?!)

This year's crop. (06/18/05)

And to think it only took three years to do it. It all goes back to late April/early May 2002 on a vacation we took to the Big Island of Hawaii — the only state in the U.S. that grows coffee commercially.

While there I came across a souvenir stand that was selling Kona coffee tree seedlings for $6 a piece. It sounded like a fun souvenir, so I bought two — one for me and one for my friend Tom who, at the time, was working as a barista at Peet's Coffee and Tea on Ventura Blvd.

The tree seedlings seemed healthy enough to survive the trip back to the mainland. (Incidentally, since everyone always asks, it's not illegal to bring live plants out of Hawaii ... it's illegal to bring live plants into Hawaii).

So as soon as I came home, I planted my Kona Coffee tree. And it grew. And grew. And grew.

My then tiny Kona coffee tree in 2003 ... one year after planting. (04/06/03).

Three years later, the plant is taller than I am. A couple of months ago I began noticing three green coffee berries growing in a small cluster.

When they reach the peak of ripeness, they turn bright red. If you leave them on the plant, they turn brown to reddish brown and fall off the coffee tree. Many coffee growers allow the berry to fall to the ground, but most pick it when it is red, which is what I did today.

Today the Kona coffee tree stands taller than the "cafetero" (coffee farmer) shown here. (06/18/05)

I haven't decided what to name my coffee blend yet, but if you have any ideas, please post them in the comments section! :)


Loren Javier said...

How about the "They Said It KONA Be Possible To Grow These Beans" blend? :o)

Laura Gonzalez said...

So, like, what do you do with three whole beans?

The Zemkona Blend?