100% pure kona coffee . . . a tribute to my heritage and my family

Sep 21

“Picking coffee” or coffee harvesting begins in the Fall. It is literally back-breaking hard work . . . this is dedicated to my family and our beloved Tatai and Nanai who worked the coffee land for all of us.


Macarons de la Saison or Macarons of the Season is yet another brilliant  theme by Deeba and Jamie over at Mactweets.  If you are in need of a “mac-fix” check out this site.  You won’t be disappointed by all of the creative macarons featured monthly based on cleverly selected themes.


For this month’s challenge, I thought . . . what do I associate with the coming of the Fall season?  Growing up in Hawaii, there isn’t much difference from season to season–with the exception of Winter when it gets a little bit cooler and the ocean seems restless with huge Winter swells.  There are no changes in the leaves–they do not change colors or Fall from the trees. Summer fruits such as berries or stone fruits are not are grown in Hawaii and the tropical fruits seem to be year round.  Flowers bloom from season to season, and so there isn’t really a particular Spring type of flower . . .  and that’s when it hit me!  Of course there are tiny white flowers that do bloom in the Spring. These flowers blanket the trees and is referred to as Kona Snow.  The flowers signal the coming of the Fall crop of Kona Coffee.

This post is a trip down memory lane as I fondly remember the not so distant past.  Nostalgia haunts me (there’s that nostalgia again) and I am longing for what was once, but unfortunately cannot be re-lived. So I dedicate this to my family in Kona particularly my beloved grandparents Tatai and Nanai who laboriously worked hard to provide for the family.

100% pure Kona Coffee is expensive because of its limited supply. The Kona district is fairly small compared to the larger coffee plantations world-wide–less than 3000 acres total. Most family farms are between 5-10 acres.  As I mentioned it is back-breaking work since the “red cherries” (for its resemblance to cherries) are hand-picked and placed in a basket that you wear around your waist. Once your basket is full, it is deposited in the typical burlap bags that can weigh up to 100 pounds.  So although a larger basket holds an ideal amount of coffee, it also means you could be carrying around your waist 25 pounds at a time!   If I remember correctly, about four to five big baskets could fill up one bag of coffee.  A very fast seasoned coffee picker can easily fill up 2-3 bags a day if the crop is good.  But often the average is more like 1-2 bags a day.

Because of the hard work involved with harvesting coffee and the lure of other higher paying jobs, most of the later generations no longer rely on coffee as the sole means of income.  My parents held other jobs while picking coffee as a side job. I remember going to the coffee land with my parents as a child. It was a time for our family to bond talking stories while picking coffee, eating our “coffee land lunch” which was always something canned like vienna sausage and rice, drinking water from a thermos, and sitting down on towels or blankets in the coffee land since really only my parents picked coffee when we were younger.  As we got older we were expected to help fill that bag, but I am ashamed to admit that I would often play my not so feeling well game and played the allergy and asthma cards. My siblings were not so lucky.

Some farmers also pulped and sun-dried their own coffee on drying platforms.  My grandfather was fortunate to have been able to pick, pulp, and dry his own coffee.  The dried coffee or patch known by the locals, also known as parchment, could be sold at a much higher rate per pound than the cherry beans.  I remember how my Mom said you knew when the coffee was dried enough and ready to be sold–you would bite into it–if it was soft it needed more dry time.  Typical drying time could be from 1-2 weeks depending on the weather.  When ready to be sold for roasting, the patch would be scooped back into clean burlap bags and sold for the given market price.  This will sound shocking but ironically enough even though my family had picked, pulped, and dried their own coffee, the final steps of milling off the parchment and roasting the beans were never done by my family.  Like a cup of coffee it really is bittersweet since they never enjoyed the fruits of their labor, but yet it was the same coffee that provided for our family.  

100% Kona Coffee ranges in taste from medium to dark–very smooth and rich (but of course I am biased).  There are also Kona Coffee blends, however they contain only a fraction of Kona Coffee (usually the minimum of 10%) mixed with other types such as Colombian or other foreign coffee.  I am fortunate to have a direct supplier of 100% Kona Coffee–my Aunty Yolanda whose farm is in Napoopoo.  She produces small batches of Kona Coffee.  You can imagine how I ration this coffee, treat it like my most prized possession, and savor every last drop.

The amazing pictures below are from her coffee farm and taken by her very talented granddaughter.  She is only in middle school, yet she already has an eye for photography and takes beautiful photos.  Thank you Malia for taking these pictures of your Tutu’s coffee and thank you Aunty for giving me the gift of home–my daily dose of 100% Kona Coffee.  Ai love you guys.

I hope you enjoyed the history of Kona Coffee and my heritage just as much as this next item–100% Pure Kona Coffee Macarons!  I am very proud of these macarons because not only does it fit perfectly with this month’s Mactweets Challenge, Mac Attack #23-Macarons de la Saison, but it also represents my heritage and where I come from.  Coffee is in full season right now in Kona.  As you enjoy your next cup of coffee, Kona or otherwise, think of the farmers and the hard work involved in providing you that one cup of fuel to start off your day.  I know I do–thank you my family.

Here are my 100% Pure Kona Coffee Macarons.  The shells contain fine grounds of Kona Coffee and the filling is Kona Coffee ganache.

Proudly perched atop Aunty’s bag of coffee.

These are perfectly roasted quality Kona Coffee beans.  The only way I start off my day!

Want to see more awesome mac creations?  Click on the fellow with the gorgeous eyes below.

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Comments: 27

  1. Michèle September 21, 2011 at 6:13 am Reply

    These look so yummy ! I can almost smell the coffee from here…wow ! My favorite flavour.

    • ailovebaking September 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm Reply

      Thanks Michele! My favorite flavor too!

  2. Bluejellybeans September 21, 2011 at 11:45 am Reply

    Aloha! These macarons look amazing! I’m not sure I can buy Kona coffee here at Madrid, but if I find it, I’ll drink a cup on your health (Cheers!)
    Thanks for sharing the recipe and the lovely story about your family.

    • Bluejellybeans September 24, 2011 at 10:57 pm Reply

      Hi again! I just want to tell you that I went to my usual store for coffee and got some Kona coffee, Yay! I didn’t buy it though (is soo expensive -99 € Kg). I told the lady at the store about your story and she gave it to me! So nice… Now I have all the ingredients for your recipe, but I think I’m going to have a cup of coffee first…

      • ailovebaking September 25, 2011 at 8:41 pm Reply

        Yay! I am so happy my Madrid friend that you are able to try a little of where I am from all the way there. It’s been great conversing with you and learning a little of your food adventures as well. Aloha!

  3. Val Uchida September 22, 2011 at 2:05 am Reply

    Wow…what a wonderful tribute to your heritage here in Kona….100% Pure Kona Coffee Macarons! I want to try this! I can just imagine how good it tastes….yum.

    • ailovebaking September 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm Reply

      Thanks Val! Always a Kona girl at heart : )

  4. Jill @ MadAboutMacarons September 23, 2011 at 7:52 am Reply

    Your macarons are absolutely stunning and can smell the aroma from here! I really enjoyed your family story about the coffee harvesting. It’s certainly another world from what we’re used to in France! What lovely photos and wonderful to see the actual coffee plants through Malia’s artistic eye. Beauties.

    • ailovebaking September 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm Reply

      Thanks Jill for stopping by and taking the time to read this post. I am very proud of where I come from and miss home terribly since I now live in California. So I am happy at any opportunity to incorporate the flavor back home. Aloha!

  5. Lora September 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm Reply

    what an interesting and beautiful story. I loved reading this post and your macarons are so beautiful!

    • ailovebaking September 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm Reply

      Thanks Lora I am glad you enjoyed this post. It was a pleasure to write and remember the past. Aloha!

  6. hicookery September 25, 2011 at 1:57 am Reply

    Your Kona coffee macs are awesome!!! Been to the coffee plantations on Kauai, Molokai and the Big Island–and I must agree with you that Kona coffee is the best in the world! Mahalo for sharing your aloha with your story and macaron recipe.

    • ailovebaking September 25, 2011 at 8:44 pm Reply

      Howzit HI Cookery! Yes you and I would be very biased to our coffee preference! Mahalo for stopping by.

  7. Karen September 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm Reply

    I need my coffee hit sometimes 2 or 3 times a day! Double shot sounds good to me:)

    • ailovebaking September 25, 2011 at 8:45 pm Reply

      Hi Karen thank you for stopping by. I’m with you gotta have my cup (or cups) of coffee everyday. Aloha!

  8. thelittleloaf September 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm Reply

    I love how food can take you on a trip down memory lane… and I love this post because coffee is one of my favourite flavours. This is my first ever mac challenge and am loving discovering all these fabulous new blogs! Will definitely be back to visit soon :-)

    • ailovebaking October 7, 2011 at 5:14 am Reply

      Most definitely–I get very nostalgic especially with foods that I grew up with. Thanks for stopping by the little loaf and looking forward to reading your next post.

  9. Françoise | ChocoParis October 1, 2011 at 1:45 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing the story of Kona coffee and your family’s heritage. Your macarons are splendid!

    • ailovebaking October 7, 2011 at 5:24 am Reply

      Thank you Francoise for visiting my blog. I am glad to be able to share a little of myself in baking and blogging.

  10. Deeba Rajpal (@vindee) October 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm Reply

    Gosh these are more beautiful than any I’ve ever seen. I’ve recently attending a coffee cupping session, and I love the treasure you’ve posted here. I ♥ coffee, and these are just perfect!

    • ailovebaking October 7, 2011 at 5:28 am Reply

      Deeba great minds think alike! It is an honor to have shared my story with all of you. Ai love these Mactweets challenges!

  11. Sabine October 11, 2011 at 11:07 am Reply

    Aloha Angela, I just returned from Hawaii from our honeymoon, so I really enjoyed reading your story about the Kona coffee. I only got the typical 10% Kona coffee, as most tourists, but I am still gonna try to make some of those beautiful macarons with it. Also love your photographs.

    • ailovebaking October 12, 2011 at 5:57 pm Reply

      Thank you Sabine for stopping by! I hope you both had a grand time in Hawaii! 100% Kona Coffee is divine, but because of its limited supply I don’t always get it year round. So I will also get a blend–I figure any Kona coffee is better than none! Btw, I am honored that you like my photos. I really am only starting out and my husband helps to take photos as well. I just got through looking at your photographs–wow they are awesome! Your food photos are breaktaking, but I love the photographs of your travels and especially San Francisco : )

  12. Rachel April 14, 2012 at 1:41 am Reply

    HI there, can you tell me where your recipe for the Kona Coffee macarons is located? Thanks

    • ailovebaking April 19, 2012 at 4:11 am Reply

      Hi Rachel thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately I don’t have the recipe posted. I hope to revisit this one sometime soon.

  13. Imrah November 5, 2012 at 7:38 pm Reply

    Hi, your ganache filling looks divine.. Are you planning on posting the recipe? Pls pls pls share :) The inspiration for these macarons was an amazing read 😀

    • ai love baking November 7, 2012 at 2:17 am Reply

      Hello! Thank you for stopping by my blog. These are my favorite macs, so yes I hope to blog the recipe again : )

ai would love to hear from you!