From Bean to cup

Aloha! Pehea 'oe i kēia lā? Thanks so much for joining us again! This week as we're kicking off our first in a long line of history blogs. Here we will be covering not only the history of Kona coffee but we will dive into some Hawaiian history as well!


Those who have tried Kopelani coffee know that we're a coffee that can't be beat, but have you ever wondered how kona coffee came to be? A little known fact about Kona coffee, it never originated from the Big island. Kona coffee is a breed of arabica coffee that was being grown in Brazil. This coffee was brought over by the governor of Oahu, Kama'ule'ule (kaa-maa-oolay-oolay) otherwise known as chief Boki, back in 1825 and he began to cultivate them on his estate in Manoa valley.


Hawaiian monarchs stand in union
Chief Boki Kekuamanoa Kama'ule'ule with chiefess Kuini Liliha

Simple Beginnings

In 1828, Chief Boki tasked Reverend Samuel Ruggles with planting a batch of seedlings on his journey to step in as the new head of a church, in the Kona district of Hawaii. between the cool slopes of mauna loa and hualalai, Samuel planted his seedlings. cultivating these plants took some time, white scale insects proved to be a dire problem for growing coffee beans. around the time of the 1850s ladybugs were introduced to deal with the white scale infestation. Now having the infestation controlled, coffee farmers began to see an increase in coffee production. Thanks in part to the volcanic soil coffee beans began to thrive!


In 1892, to help bolster the Brazilian arabica a Guatemalan seedling variety of coffee was introduced. This new Guatemalan variety took to its new environment and quickly spread throughout Kona, becoming its own variety known as Kona typica. Kona typica is what we now know as the ever popular Kona coffee. Its popularity grew earning praise from Mark Twain stating "I think Kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other."


Epic Highs and Lows of Kona coffee

Despite the success that Kona coffee began to have, it met many hardships. Living through the annexation of Hawaii's monarchy and through both world wars. Each War increased demand for the rich bean, driving up prices and creating competition between companies for workers. The Lucrative sugar cane industry often took most incoming workers away and always overshadowed Kona coffee in profits and demand. That is until the beginnings of the 1980's, as the demand for Hawaiian sugar cane began to dwindle, Leaving room for Kona coffee to rise to fame once again.


Today there are now over 600 different coffee farms along the Kona district, many of which are handled by local Hawaiian farmers which are called Kama'aina (ka-maaina) or children of the land. They carry on their hoʻoilina ( ho-oh ee leena) or legacy of cultivating their farms through their keiki (kay-kee).


We here at Kopelani are Filled with Pride in knowing our beans are grown in small local farms and are overjoyed in sharing with you this bit of Kona Coffees rich History. So the next time that you brew yourself a cup of our locally roasted Kona coffee, remember its beginnings and the Kama'aina that had a hand in getting it to you. It is together that we are able to cultivate a ho'oilina.


until next time, A hui hou!



Learn More!

Kuina Liliha

High Chief Boki

Sugar Cane And Lady Bugs

A Detailed Origin story of Kona coffee

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