By Danny Pinnell, SCAA
Our western-most staff member and research analyst Heather Ward lives on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. During a recent staff meeting, for our “One Thing About Coffee” segment, Heather shared a recap of her experience at SCAA member Waialua Coffee Estate, a 155-acre coffee farm.
Heather visited the estate in January of this year, greeted by a sign that read, “Welcome to Waialua, home of the world’s best sugar.”
The coffee farm actually used to be a sugar plantation—the Waialua Sugar Mill—from 1865 until 1996 when it was closed due to profit concerns. There was an increasing globalization of agriculture that created an economic need to diversify. In response to a growing consumer demand for high quality Hawaiian-grown products, they decided to grow coffee and cacao (chocolate). Dole Food Company currently owns the estate, their pineapple growing and processing operation adjacent to it.
“When I moved to Hawaii, I was so excited,” said Heather. “I had this vision, now that I lived in the coffee belt, I was going to frequently visit coffee farms, and frolic through the plantation up close and personal with the coffee cherries.”
Unfortunately, Heather’s vision of closely interacting with the coffee plants on the estate were unable to come to fruition as the farm is under voluntary quarantine to protect it from the coffee bean borer. However, the Waialua Coffee Estate does offer coffee tasting, shaved ice, snacks, and gift shop items as you enter. They also sell roasted and green coffee, and do their roasting onsite as well.
Visitors can go on a free coffee and chocolate mill mini-tour where they tell the history of the estate and describe the coffee process, and tourists can view coffee cherries drying out on beds and watch as it is being roasted.
Waialua Coffee Estate is still in the processing stage for this year’s crop of coffee, and they are coming up on their harvest in the fall.