“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.