I was not looking forward to leaving the fast-approaching New Zealand summer to return to East Coast winter storms. Lucky for me, the cheapest way back home turned out to be via Hawaii. Don’t mind if I do!
The first thing I did after getting off the plane in Kona was pick up every pamphlet I could find for coffee plantation tours. I did this before going to the beach. Clearly, my priorities were in order. Soon enough I found Mountain Thunder, a coffee farm where I’d take a tour and then get to roast my own five pound bag of beans to take home. And 100% Kona coffee is famous for having no bitter aftertaste. Yes!
Before the tour began, I had about six sample-sized cups for “research.” Also, it was early. In other news, I had never seen a coffee plant. It’s not like I pictured steaming cups of joe hanging from tree branches, but I also probably wouldn’t have recognized the plant if I didn’t know what it was. Now I know coffee berries are bright red when ready to harvest and it’s better for everyone if the plants are shade grown because that means there’s generally a higher yield and the plants are protected from the intense sun.
The tour guide took us through what coffee beans look like at various steps throughout their journey from plant to mug. There’s a phase when they’re tan, a phase when they’re green, and of course a phase when they’re charcoal brown after roasting. The beans below still have their skins on.
Then finally, the part I was waiting for. Roasting! I always thought being a barista looked fun, minus the whole dealing with obnoxious people part, so I figure roasting coffee in a private setting is the best of both worlds. You get to use all the cool gadgets and machines and don’t have to listen to anyone complain about their luke-warm triple soy latte.
After roasting I got to bag the beans–more fun machines!
And the best part–taking it home.
I can honestly say it’s the best coffee I’ve ever had. The beans smell amazing. It’s crazy how dry and unexciting inferior coffee beans look and smell in the bag after I’ve gotten used to the oil and fragrance of these beans. After giving some to friends and family, and consuming a great deal myself, the five pounds isn’t lasting me as long as I’d like. I’m afraid Mountain Thunder has ruined me. Will I ever be able to drink another type of coffee again? At this point, it seems unlikely. I will just have to go back.