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Coffee grown on the Big Island of Hawaii is unique and highly prized for several reasons:

Hawaiian Coffee Growing Climate:

Hawaii's coffee-growing regions are located on the slopes of Mauna Loa, a volcano on the Big Island. The climate is tropical, with temperatures typically ranging between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The region receives ample rainfall, and the volcanic soil is rich in minerals, which contributes to the unique flavor profile of Hawaiian coffee. The high elevation (up to 2,500 feet) also plays a role in the coffee's quality, as it allows the beans to grow more slowly, resulting in a denser, more flavorful bean.

Hawaii's coffee growing climate is unique in several ways compared to other coffee growing regions. Here are some of the key factors that make it distinct:

  • Unique Climate: Hawaii's Big Island has a unique microclimate that is ideal for coffee growing. The island's high elevation, combined with its tropical location, provides a perfect balance of warm days and cool nights. This allows the coffee cherries to mature slowly, which enhances the flavor of the beans. Hawaiian Coffee Growing Climate:

Hawaii's coffee-growing regions are located on the slopes of Mauna Loa, a volcano on the Big Island. The climate is tropical, with temperatures typically ranging between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The region receives ample rainfall, and the volcanic soil is rich in minerals, which contributes to the unique flavor profile of Hawaiian coffee. The high elevation (up to 2,500 feet) also plays a role in the coffee's quality, as it allows the beans to grow more slowly, resulting in a denser, more flavorful bean.

  • Northernmost Coffee Growing Region: Hawaii is the northernmost region in the world where coffee is grown. This unique geographical location results in longer days during the growing season, which gives the coffee cherries more time to develop their flavors.

  • Volcanic Soil: The Big Island of Hawaii is home to five volcanoes, and the volcanic ash that falls during eruptions enriches the soil with micronutrients. This volcanic soil is very fertile and gives Hawaiian coffee its distinctive taste.

  • Hand Picking: Coffee on the Big Island is hand-picked, which ensures that only the ripest cherries are harvested. This labor-intensive process contributes to the high quality of Hawaiian coffee. In contrast, in many other coffee-growing regions, such as Honduras, coffee is often machine-harvested, which can result in a mix of ripe and unripe cherries. 

  • Volcanic Soil: Hawaii is home to several active volcanoes, including Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The volcanic activity enriches the soil with minerals that are beneficial for coffee growth. The porous nature of the volcanic soil also provides excellent drainage, which is crucial for coffee plants.

  • Climate: Hawaii's tropical climate, with its warm temperatures and high humidity, is ideal for coffee cultivation. The islands also have a unique microclimate due to their mountainous terrain, which can create varying conditions even within a small area. This allows for the growth of different varieties of coffee within close proximity.

  • Altitude: The altitude at which coffee is grown can significantly impact its flavor. In Hawaii, coffee is grown at various altitudes, from sea level up to 3,000 feet. This range of altitudes contributes to the diversity of flavors found in Hawaiian coffee.

  • Rainfall: Hawaii has a unique rainfall pattern that is beneficial for coffee cultivation. The islands typically have a dry season and a wet season, which align well with the coffee plant's natural growth and dormant cycles.

  • Isolation: Hawaii's isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean also contributes to its unique coffee growing conditions. This isolation has allowed Hawaii to avoid many of the diseases that have plagued coffee crops in other parts of the world.

  • In conclusion, Hawaii's unique combination of volcanic soil, climate, altitude, rainfall patterns, and isolation contribute to its distinctive coffee growing conditions, setting it apart from other coffee growing regions1.




Unique Labor Conditions Result in Higher Quality Fruit being Picked.  Coffee pickers on the Big Island are paid $1.50 per pound, which is significantly higher than in many other coffee-growing regions. For example, in Honduras, pickers are paid only $1.00 per 100 pounds. This commitment to fair wages contributes to the sustainability of the coffee industry on the Big Island.  This means that 20 dollars or more of a final pound of coffee goes to the pickers alone, while in other countries as little as 10 cents per pound goes towards pickers.  Thus we have a much higher incentive to pick our coffee perfectly.  



Here are some average wages for coffee pickers per pound in different countries:

  • Brazil: Coffee pickers in Brazil earn around $0.12 per pound. This is relatively higher compared to other coffee-producing countries, but it's important to note that the cost of living and labor laws vary greatly. ^source^

  • Colombia: In Colombia, coffee pickers are paid approximately $0.08 per pound. The country has a significant coffee industry, and the wage reflects the economic conditions and labor market. ^source^

  • Ethiopia: Coffee pickers in Ethiopia earn about $0.06 per pound. As one of the largest coffee producers in Africa, the wage is influenced by the local economy and labor conditions. ^source^

  • Honduras: In Honduras, coffee pickers are paid around $0.05 per pound. The wage is influenced by the country's economic conditions and the size of its coffee industry. ^source^




The importance of picking coffee when it is perfectly ripe versus unripe is significant and can greatly impact the quality of the final product. Here are some key points:

  • Flavor: Ripe coffee cherries have a sweet, full flavor, while unripe ones can have a sour or astringent taste. This is because the sugars in the coffee cherry have not fully developed in the unripe ones. The flavor of the coffee is directly affected by the ripeness of the cherry at the time of picking.

  • Quality: The quality of the coffee bean is directly related to the ripeness of the cherry. Unripe cherries can lead to underdeveloped beans, which can result in a lower quality cup of coffee. On the other hand, overripe cherries can lead to fermented flavors.

  • Processing: Unripe cherries are harder and more difficult to process. They can also cause issues during the fermentation process, leading to off flavors in the final cup.

  • Economic Impact: Picking unripe cherries can lead to a lower yield of usable beans, which can have an economic impact on the farmer. Additionally, the lower quality of the beans can lead to a lower market price.

As for the compounds in unripe coffee versus ripe coffee, the main differences lie in the concentration of certain compounds.

  • Sugars: Ripe coffee cherries have a higher concentration of sugars, which contributes to a sweeter and more complex flavor profile. Unripe cherries have lower sugar content.

  • Chlorogenic Acids (CGAs): These are antioxidants found in coffee. The concentration of CGAs is higher in unripe coffee cherries. However, a high concentration of CGAs can lead to a more bitter and astringent flavor in the final cup.

  • Caffeine: The caffeine content in coffee cherries does not significantly change as the fruit ripens.

  • Trigonelline: This compound contributes to the sweet and savory flavors in coffee. Its concentration decreases as the cherry ripens, but it breaks down into other compounds that contribute to the flavor of the coffee.

  • Organic Acids: Organic acids, such as citric, malic, and tartaric acid, contribute to the acidity and overall flavor of the coffee. The concentration of these acids decreases as the cherry ripens.

In conclusion, the ripeness of coffee cherries at the time of picking significantly impacts the flavor, quality, and economic value of the coffee. It's a delicate balance that coffee producers must manage carefully to ensure the best possible product12.


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