West Maui Coffee Tour
Last week we took some guests from Canada on our West Side Coffee Tour and I decided to surprise my husband and the guests with a few of my friends waiting at Lahaina Harbor when we arrived to pick them up for the tour. Well I did mention to “daddy” on the way that there might be a few additional guests. He said “How many?” I said “Four” … “Six total” 😉 So it was great. We arrive in Lahaina and by the Banyan tree our Canadian guests recognize our bus and approached us. We have met so many wonderful people in the last six months doing the tours here on Maui.
We proceeded towards the harbor and there was Jill Mayo @Mauisocial on twitter. Jill really wanted to experience this part of my tour at Piliani Kope Coffee farm. I had also received a text from @LifeinParadise Aimee Paradise Singer (also part of the Living Maui Social team) asking could she and her boyfriend come. My friend James Simpliciano is a chef on Maui and also a small farmer. This was an awesome group and made it more fun for my guests from Canada. They really had hoped to meet some of the locals and have an experience getting close to the land.
Thanks to Jill Mayo for creating this video at Living Maui Social for Maui Country Farm Tours.
Getting close to the land with Greg and Susy Stille was priceless. We arrived at the barn at the top of Launiupoko which is backed to the West Maui mountains at the six hundred foot level. The barn doors were closed due to gusty winds coming off the mountains so we entered to the side door into the gorgeous coffee barn. Immediately everyone was so surprised at the amazing space that Greg and Susy have created. In front of the barn you notice the name engraved in concrete Piliani Kope Coffee Farm. There are French windows that flood the barn with light. The opposite end of the barn doors are rolled up to reveal a big view of the ocean and the farm.
Fresh roasted and ground Coffee was brewing in a few pots with little sipping cups ready for us to taste. Susy had prepared fluffy looking pastries topped with apple bananas from the farm and I had the big ginger cookies from Whole Foods Market Kahului. They gave us the option of coffee now or later and we said “Now, Please” and so the experience began. Everyone wandered in the barn studying beautiful coffee machines for roasting, pulping, drying racks and also gifts, t-shirts and books for sale on various displays. They have traveled to Indonesia and acquired amazing wooden furniture and doors for their barn.
So after a taste of coffee we follow Greg and Susy into the field. It’s a two acre organic coffee farm. No pesticides or commercial fertilizers are used. The land was so rich with moisture and fertility.
Greg explained to us how he plants daikon, carrots, Italian parsley, allyssum, wild cherry tomatoes all to enhance the growing of the coffee. The ground is completely covered with nitrogen fixing pea plants making a deep, moist earthy trek through the coffee. I love how Greg explains that they plant the daikon and other root vegetables to pull nutrients from deep in the soil up to the top six to eight inches where the coffee roots are. They leave the root veggies to rot in the earth creating a funnel for water which aerates the soil and also delivers the nutrients more easily. This is so COOL. We tasted coffee cherries and learned that the fruit is used in energy drinks and teas, and the girls at AKLMaui
are working on a skin care product using the coffee cherry.
They also plant tons of seeds for plants that have small flowers to attract the small bugs that are beneficial to pollinating the coffee flowers. Coffee flowers are very small fragrant white beautiful flowers that are in the gardenia family.
The coffee trees are descendants of the original Typica plants that were brought from Brazil to Hawaii by Governor Boki in 1825 on his way back from England. It is called “Kanaka Kope” and birds carried the seeds from the other side of Maui into the valley behind Greg and Susy’s place where the wild coffee plants took root. On hikes into the valley they discovered the trees and started planting seedlings on their property. They would carry out five gallon buckets on forty-five minute walks carrying the seedlings.
This is when they fell in love with the idea of growing coffee on Maui. Greg was originally in the grocery business in California and was looking for his dream on Maui and what to do when he retired. Hence Piliani Kope Coffee was born.
Greg has amazing knowledge and pride in this farm. Together he and Susy have created their dream. We were all so thrilled to share in the Piliani Kope Coffee Farm experience. Trekking through the nitrogen fixing pea plants and nasturtium, Italian Parsley, carrots, radishes, daikon, calendulas, alyssum, coffee trees, tomatoes, cacao and some native plants like Ma`o (a native cotton) made me want get home and dig in the garden again and dream up my own farm.
Up at the barn we enjoyed our wonderful lunch prepared by Whole Foods Market Kahului and fruits from our place up-Country. Local oranges, lilikoi, apple bananas and pineapple were amazing.
Greg began roasting the coffee and we learned how gradually he raises the temperature to create the desired result. He let me choose how to make the blend. Today he was combining a yellow caturra and red catuai which I knew could be a spicy rich cabernet like blend.
So he went with a medium dark roast. As the coffee beans cooled Susy began to bag them in bright red foil 1/2 pound bags crimping them with her foot pedaled machine. We bought coffee and gifts.
Everyone loved this process and wanted to hold the barrel of coffee beans for a picture.
After Piliani Kope coffee farm We dropped our friends off at the harbor and continued the tour with our Canadian guests on to the Ka`anapali Coffee Farms to get the perspective of 2 acres compared to five hundred acres of coffee trees row after row after row.
It is a beautiful sight and we loved climbing up the platform to view the trees from above. I am so happy that James Kimo Falconer who originally worked as farmer with Pioneer Mill before it closed it’s doors in 2001 has revived the coffee farm and harvests MauiGrown Coffee.
You can visit the website to purchase coffee or go to the MauiGrown Coffee Company Store at the big smoke stack landmark in Lahaina. I have learned so much about coffee here. The yellow caturra, a semi dwarf which likes hot dry conditions is the first to harvest in the fall. It has a yellow cherry rather than the typical red cherry. It is said to have a spicy undertone when roasted medium to dark. The Red Catuai also a semi-dwarf which likes the hot dry Ka`anapali climate is a cross between Caturra and Mundo Novo. This cross breeding occurred in Brazil in the 1960’s. It is said to be the cabernet of coffees. The reds are harvested in late fall. The other two coffees grown at Ka`anapali Coffee Farms are the Typicas and the Maui Mokka. The Typicas are grown on an area of the farm without pesticides for several years. They hope to go into organic production with them. They are similar to the Kona Coffees except they are grown on Maui.
The name Mokka is taken from a port Al Mokha near it’s origin in Yemen (Ethiopia) the mother of all coffee. (Arabicas)
The Maui Mokka has a small bean, has a low yield and difficult to harvest therefore it is more rare. It also has chocolate flavors and a smooth good acidity. It is gaining notoriety all over the world. The coffee is harvested by machine on the five hundred acres and one hundred pound bags of green beans go to market all over the world.
We finished off the tour with a drive to the old Kapalua pineapple plantation and Honolua Bay. Our guests absolutely loved the tour and we were so glad to have shared Maui’s Agricultural Beauty on Maui Country Farm Tours. Looking forward to many more West Side Coffee Tours. If you’d like to experience it give us a call. 808 283-9131
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