Across the Big Island there are several recognized growing regions. While Kona and Ka’u are the best known, Hamakua coffee has been under the radar, so to speak, for years due to the rarity.
The region has amassed its own following of aficionados; in fact, our two Hamakua coffees – Hamakua Mahina and Hamakua Stout Heart Dark – are two of our top requested coffees and notable as being full-bodied, balanced, pleasantly neutral, nutty and smooth.
Hamakua Coffee: Yesterday and Today
Hamakua has some of the most fertile volcanic soil on the entire island, making it a popular location for farmers of all sorts. In fact, it was believed to be the first place where coffee was grown on Hawaii island, arriving in 1852.
After the first coffee farms took root, it didn’t take long for several larger coffee farms to start thriving in the region. Unfortunately, a combination of fires and the popularity of sugarcane slowed coffee production in the region for some time. Much like Ka’u, farmers in Hamakua started to transition back to coffee after the decline of sugarcane in the mid-1990s.
Today, the Hamakua Coast is a small coffee growing region, only comprising some 150 acres of coffee farms, averaging between five to seven acres, anywhere from 350 to 2,500 feet above sea level.
The region is cool with plenty of rainfall, making it perfect for growing the Typica variety, although Caturra and Catuai are also popular. Partly due to the varieties, Hamakua coffee tends to be smooth, sweet, and full-bodied. It’s uncommon to find bright acids or notes of blueberry or jasmine in Hamakua coffees, as notes of chocolate and nuts are dominant.
Direct Trade with Hog Heaven Coffee Farm
Both of our Hamakua coffees are sourced directly from Sookyung Kim and Mike Megert, hands-on co-owners of Hog Heaven Coffee Farm. We’ve been delighted to work with them on improving crop quality via new fermentation processes, adjusting coffee drying times and temperatures, in addition to helping them process their crop.
Hog Heaven was founded in 2015, when Sookyung and Mike - both originally from San Diego - fulfilled their dream of living on the Big Island, after having regularly visited Hawaii for more than 20 years.
“When we bought this property, it had about 650 coffee trees,” Sookyung says. “The owners had not really started it up as a business.”
Sookyung and Mike spent the next three years growing the farm by planting more coffee, as well as building infrastructure and a barn. Today, they have 20 acres of orchards and pasture, with a total of 750 plants – a combination of Typica and Caturra trees.
“Our farm is 1,400 feet above sea level, and we get over 200 inches of rain each year,” she adds. “This means our coffee trees grow in a breezier, cooler, and rainier environment, leading to a later harvest season. It means our coffees are unlike those grown elsewhere on the island.”
In the future, Sookyung and Mike hope to use some of the land for orchard expansion. Alongside the coffee plants, Hog Heaven is also home to six rescued Holstein pigs, which the farmers describe as “full-time lawnmowers”.
“Seeing how Kelleigh, Brandon, and the rest of the team at Big Island Coffee Roasters care about how the coffee is treated and processed allows us to feel good about how our hard-earned beans are handled,” Sookyung concludes.
Photos courtesy of Hog Heaven Coffee Farm
Roast-to-Order Hamakua Coffees
Stout Heart Dark
Hamakua Stout Heart Dark is our 100% Hamakua washed dark roast that has a deep caramel sweetness with notes of molasses, fudge, marzipan, and stout beer.
This coffee’s bold flavors make it perfect for lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites, as it can easily shine through the creaminess of any milk you use.
Hamakua Mahina, is a smooth and balanced medium roast with notes of milk chocolate, walnut, nutmeg, cinnamon cookies, and dried flowers.
We recommend it for coffee lovers seeking a balanced, versatile coffee, as it’s great via pour over, drip, French press, and espresso.