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MauiGrown 100% Estate-Grown Coffee

Submitted by on November 18, 2009 – 9:21 pmOne Comment

MauiGrown coffee beansBy Susan McKee
The Road Trips Foodie

Driving north on the coastal route on the island of Maui in Hawaii, I saw a sign for the Ka’anapali Coffee Farms Estate, so I turned up the West Maui Mountains to take a closer look at this diversified agricultural project.

About 500 acres of a 6,000 sugar cane plantation once owned by Pioneer Mill sugar company had been converted from cane to coffee in the late 1980s. Experimenting with 28 varieties of Arabica beans to see which was best suited for the elevation, soil and climate, four were selected: Maui Mokka (a proprietary strain), Red Catuai, Yellow Caturra and Typica. When Pioneer Mill closed its doors in 2001, Ka’anapali Estate Coffee also was shut down.

Two years later, James Falconer, formerly the director of agriculture for Pioneer Mill, established MauiGrown Coffee, which harvested its first crop on 2004. The 500 acres is now owned by PM Land Company, which subdivided the coffee farm into 4- to 7-acre farm lots. Each lot includes a building site of about an acre; the remainder of the land remains planted with coffee. These beans are processed by MauiGrown Coffee, which is the only producer of coffee grown on the island.

MauiGrown coffee plantsThus far, only two homes are under construction (although the map of the 51 lots shows at least a dozen marked as “sold”). In a clever ploy to entice tourists (and potential land-buyers) up the mountain, the MauiGrown Coffee Company has laid out a self-guided tour of the estate. How could I resist? I picked up a brochure and started off.

First stop was in the area planted with Guatemalan Typica Progeny 502, known as Typica for short. This coffee variety has been grown in Hawaii since 1825. Here, most plants are above the 900-foot level. They’re harvested late in December or early January. Stop two showcased Red Catuai, a cross between the Caturra and Mundo Novo varieties of coffee.

A coffee viewing platform between the second and third stops was a chance to climb up and look over the rows of coffee trees, planted 12 feet apart to allow for mechanical harvesting.

At the third stop, the variety is Yellow Caturra, so-named because it’s yellow when ripe, not red (as coffee beans usually are when ready). Usually it’s the first to ripen, with harvesting starting in September. Last stop was Maui Mokka, the company’s signature variety. This seed stock originated in Ethiopia, and it’s characterized by narrow leaves and small beans. Here on Maui, it grows well at the 500- to 600-foot elevation, and harvesting runs October through December.

MauiGrown Coffee Company StoreAfter checking out the plants, I had to check out the finished coffee, so I headed to the MauiGrown Coffee Company Store, just off the main road (Route 30) about 4-1/2 miles south in Lahaina. Because it’s adjacent to the Pioneer Mill smokestack (under restoration), it’s easy to find at 277 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. After sampling the Maui Mokka I was hooked on the “champagne” of coffee. That’s the variety I bought to take home with me, along with a bag of MauiGrown natural cane sugar. After all, Road Trips Foodies, how could I stir anything else into my freshly-brewed Maui Mokka?

If you’d like more information on Maui, wander over to the Maui Visitors Bureau. (It’s just about time for the humpback whale watching season — some 3,500 or so visit Maui’s waters between December and May.)

One response to “MauiGrown 100% Estate-Grown Coffee”

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