Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation in Kona, Hawaii
Tucked in the thick rainforest of Kailua Kona, Hawaii, Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation is an award-winning coffee producer where we enjoyed a lovely afternoon tour and learned all about Kona coffee.
The caffeine kick sure helped us keep up with our busy schedule for the day! As we drove up the nearly 3,500 feet climb to get to the plantation, lush greenery surrounded us all around as we entered the property.
We first met with Trent Bateman, the owner, who gave us an overview of what makes Kona coffee beans so special. Trent explained that the quality of Kona beans are so high that it is not necessary to roast them as much as other variety of beans; other beans are often over-roasted in order to mask their less-than-ideal taste. Not these babies. According to the Chief Judge of the Gevalia Kona Coffee Cupping Competition, the nutty overtones, cinnamon bursts and chocolate hints are allowed to shine because they receive the perfect amount of roasting. We were convinced and ready to learn more!
Our one-and-a-half hour V.I.P. tour continued with General Manager John Langenstein as he took us through the property to show us all kinds of plants, fruits, and vegetation. Here he shows us a banana tree:
Some of the plants we saw were completely foreign to us! As we walked past a vine, John shook it and a poka fruit, the size of an orange, fell down from the vine. Poka fruit is orangey-yellow on the outside, a white meaty inside similar to a coconut, and slimy, mucusy seeds– the part that you eat– on the inside. As you can tell from Carol’s reaction, it didn’t look very appetizing, but the seeds were actually very sweet and delicious!
The more we walked, the more fruits and berries we got to try. At the end of this portion of the tour, we probably tasted about 10 different varieties of wild berries. We could taste the freshness. It was, afterall, straight off the plant!
We then came to an area where a volcano tube had caved in and created a natural bridge and caves. It was probably 30 feet deep on either side of the bridge, but Carol was brave and went and stood on top of it. It was quite a sight to see.
For the last section of the tour, we went to the processing area, where we learned how coffee is picked, brought in for processing, and then roasted. This part of the tour was quicker than we expected, most likely because we spent so much time exploring the rest of the property.
Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation offers an excellent tour of indigenous Hawaiian plants and the Kona coffee production process.
We really enjoyed this tour. We also learned that Thunder Mountain Coffee recently won at the Good Food Awards held in San Francisco, CA. Great work, guys!