In 2010, the opportunity emerged to buy a small coffee farm in a disregarded, impoverished region of Hawaii. With little to lose, we thought, “Why not?” As we integrated with the community of farmers and sampled coffees from around the Big Island, we were surprised by the variety and quality that goes largely overshadowed. We wanted to change that.
Over the next two years we taught ourselves to cultivate, process and roast. We tested and tasted the differences between coffee processes, varietals, and roast profiles. Our end-goal was always the same: the objectively best coffee we could produce from our land. When we found methods and profiles we liked, we taught neighboring farmers to do the same and began roasting their coffees as well.
To our surprise, in 2013 our efforts began paying off.
In July our Puna Pink Bourbon coffees won Grand Champion in the Hawaii Coffee Association’s Statewide Cupping Competition and became the first non-Kona or Ka’u farm to do so. The same year, the USDA honored our efforts to improve East Hawaii’s coffee quality by awarding us a grant for purchasing specialized coffee grading equipment; equipment we can use to help add value to the coffee crops of independent coffee farmers in Hawaii – and later that year we were awarded a Hawaii Senate Certificate for doing so. And as the year closed, our Honeyed Yellow Caturra coffee placed in Coffee Review’s “30 Top Coffees of 2013”.
Today, we serve on the board of directors for the Hawaii Coffee Association – Hawaii’s largest organization serving all islands and industries, from cherry to cup. And our handmade Hawaiian coffees have been praised for their artisanship by the likes of Coffee Review, Honolulu Magazine, Edible Hawaiian, Brutus, and The San Franciscan Chronicle.
Since moving, our lives have been full of challenge, sweat, adventure, discipline and persistent learning. We’re now a full-scale Hawaii coffee roaster and processing mill for boutique Hawaiian coffees.
A love for wild and beautiful places brought us to the Big Island. Respect for the terrain and appreciation for the farmers who craft from it has kept us here. And each of our customers have made it possible for small farms like ours to continue doing what we love to do: growing & roasting Hawaii’s great coffees.
Kelleigh & Brandon
Founders of Big Island Coffee Roasters
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