The Story Of Greenwell Farms And 100% Kona Coffee
Coffee has been part of Kona tradition for centuries, and, today, it’s one of Hawaii’s biggest exports. According to USDA reports, Kona coffee production grew by 5% between 2016 and 2017, equating to 36.4 million pounds of harvested coffee cherries. Hawaiian coffee also saw a dramatic increase in value, increasing by 15% to reach a whopping $62.2 million for the season. Looking at these numbers, it’s clear coffee plays a vital role in Hawaii’s economy, history and natural landscape.
The history of Kona coffee dates as far back as 1828, when a missionary named Samuel Ruggles introduced a variety of coffee called Kanaka Kopi. Just eight years later, coffee became a commercialized industry, with other islands attempting to grow the crop. Kona was still the only land to succeed in fruitful production. With a combination of rich volcanic soil and natural canopy to protect plants from the sun and frequent rain showers, Kona provided the perfect landscape and climate for growing coffee. As a result, the original coffee growers of Kona established roots across the island. That’s where Greenwell Farm’s story begins.
In 1850, Henry Nicholas Greenwell ventured from England to Kona in the hopes of establishing a prosperous coffee farm. After a long and treacherous journey by ship, he finally set foot on the shores of Kona, making his new home in Kealakekua, Hawaii – the “Heart of Kona.” Surrounded by sea cliffs and beautiful ocean views, this lush farmland offered a picturesque setting for what would later be known as Greenwell Farms.
Over the next 40 years, Henry and his wife Elizabeth Caroline built a booming business by farming crops, ranching and producing coffee. This dedication to growing the highest quality Kona coffee beans garnered attention from coffee connoisseurs, eventually resulting in a “Recognition Diploma” from the 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna, Austria. After winning this prestigious award, Greenwell Farms earned the reputation as one of the best coffee farms in the world.
Decades later, the Greenwell legacy continued to thrive with the help of Henry Greenwell’s grandson, Norman Greenwell, and his great grandson, Thomas Greenwell. This new generation of Greenwells diversified and expanded the farm’s offerings, ushering a new era of specialty Kona coffee cultivation on the island. Working alongside coffee scientists and researchers, Greenwell Farms launched a coffee varietal breeding program in 1999 that saw the development of new first- and second-generation coffee plant hybrids. One of these brand-new varietals was Mamo, a unique combination of Marogogype and Mokka varieties, which took 20+ years to cultivate.
Today, Greenwell Farms maintains 85 acres of coffee orchards and manages another 60 acres of coffee orchards for other landowners. From harvesting and processing to roasting and shipping, the Greenwell Farms team handles every aspect of coffee making, from farm to cup. To educate the public on the coffee production process, Greenwell Farms also hosts a farm tour, built on the model of a classic Napa wine tour. During this tour, visitors can sample a Greenwell Farms’ signature coffees while learning about day-to-day life on the farm as well as step-by-step coffee production. In addition to selling premium 100% Kona coffee, Greenwell Farms also sells other products, including locally grown black peppercorn, organic Hawaiian honey and KonaRed, which is made from the juice of Greenwell Farms coffee cherries.
While Greenwell Farms is modernizing the coffee industry in many ways, the family is dedicated to staying true to its time-honored heritage. One of the largest and oldest coffee producers in Kona, Greenwell Farms is proud to celebrate its history and spread the spirit of aloha with every cup.
“I’m proud that I’ve been able to change and grow with this company. I’m proud of the people who work here and, most of all, I’m proud of the coffee.” – Tom Greenwell, President, Greenwell Farms