Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Market Basket
Kona Joe Coffee gets top award

By Joan Namkoong
Advertiser Food Editor

Deepa Alban was bubbling over with the news last week that Kona Joe Coffee was awarded the "Best New Roasted Coffee" blue ribbon in the annual competition at the Specialty Coffee Association of America gathering in Miami. It was the first time a Hawai'i coffee was accorded that honor, Alban was told.

The gathering drew representatives of 40 countries and 6,000 participants.

Deepa and Joe Alban, who divide their time between Kona and California, founded their farm near Kainaliu in 1997 and decided to try something that, so far as they know, has never been attempted in Kona before: trellising coffee.

Their coffee trees are trained along strung wires that open up the branches to the sun in the same manner favored by grape vineyards. More sun exposure means more sugar development and more sugar development can mean richer flavor and a better texture, according to the Coffee Joe folks.

The similarity to the wine business is no accident: Joe Alban's family owns a winery in St. Louis Obispo called Alban Vineyards. It was Joe's winemaker brother, John, who suggested the idea of trellising the coffee, in the kind of "why not" thinking that often accompanies new ideas.

Deepa Alban said the trellising has worked effectively and coffee pickers love it: "It's a picker's dream because the cherries are easy to get to."

Recently, an official of the organization that governs the growing of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, among the most sought-after coffees in the world, visited the farm and praised the trellis idea, she said.

Kona Joe Coffee markets only 100-percent-pure Kona coffee in medium and dark roasts and as peaberries (berries that have not split in half), in colorful 12-ounce vacuum packs that sell for $25 at Neiman Marcus.

Joan Namkoong is on leave of absence; her colleagues in the Island Life section are preparing the Market Basket column. Send shopping queries and new product information to: Market Basket, The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Fax: 525-8055. E-mail: islandlife@honoluluadvertiser.com