When we brew a cup of Kona coffee it is the last step in a tale of theft, intrigue, and sex. All Arabica coffees originated from trees in Ethiopia. There are hundreds of varieties of coffee trees growing wild in Ethiopia but only two varieties make up almost all of today’s Arabica coffee consumption.
In the fifteenth century Arab traders purchased coffee beans from farmers in Abyssinia (Ethiopia and Yemen). They took the beans to the port of Mokka on the Red Sea. (Hence the word “mokka” for coffee) Before shipping they roasted the beans so that no one else could grow coffee and compete with them.
In 1650, a Hindu holy man hid some of the green beans in his clothing and smuggled them out of Mokka into India. He probably didn’t know it but he took two varieties of coffee: Typica and Bourbon.
The French acquired some of the Bourbon beans from India and planted them on Bourbon Island (now Reunion Island) in the Indian Ocean. The trees did so well that the coffee was reserved exclusively for the French King. French missionaries took some of those Bourbon seeds to their missions in Africa, which started the coffee plantations of East Africa.
The Dutch also obtained some of the beans, however, they got the Typica variety. They planted them on the island of Java. (Hence the name Java for coffee). In 1706, a single Typica coffee plant was taken from Java to the Amsterdam botanical gardens. The Dutch sent seeds from that tree to Dutch Guiana.
In 1714, the mayor of Amsterdam gave a Typica coffee plant to Louis XIV, the French King. It was planted in the royal greenhouse in Paris. The French sent seeds from this tree to French Guinea.
French Guinea prohibited the export of their green coffee beans. However, an enterprising Brazilian diplomat used his romantic charms on the French governor’s wife, who rewarded him on his departure with coffee beans hidden in a bouquet of flowers. Those seeds produced the Typica trees that are grown today throughout South America.
In 1723, Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, a French naval officer, was being sent to Martinique and wanted to take coffee plants with him. His request for coffee plants from the royal greenhouse was denied. However, de Clieu apparently had other skills and a lady friend stole some trees for him from the royal greenhouse. On the trip to Martinique, the ship was becalmed and the captain began to ration water. De Clieu used his own ration to water the coffee plants. Some of the passengers took offense and tried to throw the plants overboard. Only one plant made it safely to Martinique. The beans from that one tree are the source of the Typica coffee plantations today in Central America.
In 1824, the British detailed a ship to return the bodies of King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamamalu to Hawaii from London. The ship stopped in Rio de Jeneiro and took Typica coffee trees on board. These trees were planted in the Manoa Valley of Oahu, where they struggled. However, a missionary saw them and took some of them to Kona as landscaping for his church. Those Brazilian Typicas thrived in Kona .
In 1892, Herman Weidermier came to Kona to sell Guatemalan Typica coffee trees. He told farmers his trees was more productive and needed less fertilizer. Within a few years, Guatemalan Typica had taken over Kona. Today, most of the coffee grown in Kona is Guatemalan Typica.
So the first wave of Kona coffee trees came from trees grown in Ethiopia, traded to Yemen, stolen to India, shipped to Java, then Amsterdam, then Paris, then French Guiana, sexually exploited to Brazil, then to Oahu and finally to Kona. The second wave of Kona coffee trees came from trees grown in Ethiopia, traded to Yemen, stolen to India, shipped to Java, then Amsterdam, then Paris, sexually exploited to Martinique, then to Guatemala and finally to Kona.
Until after WWII these were the only coffee trees grown in Kona. After the war new varieties of coffee were introduced to Kona. Today, there are over twelve varieties of Arabica coffee grown in Kona, almost all decendents of the stolen beans that were planted in India.
Our Kona Sweet and Oli coffees are Guatemalan Typica, our Mele coffees are Brazilian Typica. All of our other coffees are Bourbon varieties which came later to Kona. Now you know. So sip some Kona Coffee and see if you can detect hints of theft, intrigue and sex.
Hula Daddy Kona Coffee LLC is a boutique coffee farm in Kona, Hawaii that grows, processes and roasts its own current crop coffee beans. We grow 7 different varieties of coffee and process them using 4 different methods. We roast date every bag of our coffee. In 2014 we won the Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. In 2015, we won the Hawaii Cupping Competition. In 2016 and 2017, we came in Second in the Hawaii Cupping Competition, In November 2017, Coffee Review rated our Laura’s Reserve SL-28 at 97 points and as Number 2 in the top Thirty Coffees of 2017.