Coffee Growing in the Hamakua District of the Big Island of Hawaii
The coffee farms of the Hamakua region on the Big Island’s northeast side average about six acres in size and total about 150 acres in all. These Hamakua coffee farms are located from 350 feet above sea level to 2,000 feet above sea level.
History of Hamakua Coffee
It was an American Protestant missionary who fist brought coffee seeds and trees to the Hamakua region around the middle of the 1800s. The missionary was in the region on his mission activities and provided the seeds and coffee trees to families that he met during the course of his work.
As a result of the missionary-provided coffee seeds and coffee plants, numerous small plantings of coffee began in the Hamakua region. These were established in the area’s coastal valleys and in some of the area’s small villages where today one can still find remnants of the farms growing as wild coffee.
Larger Coffee Plantations Established in Hamakua in Late 1800s
Coffee plant varietals from Guatemala were brought to the Hamakua region in the late 1800s and larger coffee plantation were established mostly in the regions of Pohakea, Mauka, Paauilo, Honokaa and Kukaiau. The largest of these coffee plantations totaled more than one thousand acres and was located in Pohakea and owned by Lewison Brothers.
Many of Hamakua’s coffee plantations were destroyed in 1901 by what is known as the great Hamakua forest fire. By the middle of the 1900s the coffee market had declined precipitously and lands that had been cultivating coffee began to be used instead as pasturelands.
Just a few small, private coffee farms remained in Hamakua as well as the areas where “wild” coffee still grew from the earlier farms that had been abandoned.
Renewed Interest In Coffee Farming with Closure of Hamakua Sugar Plantation
In 1994 Hamakua’s sugar plantation closed its doors and this began a renewed interest in coffee growing in the region. Coffee production in Hamakua started again in earnest in 2000 when thirteen farmers began cultivating the revered bean.
For more information see: Hawaii Coffee; Big Island Coffee; Kona Coffee; Kau Coffee; Puna Coffee; Hilo Coffee; Oahu Coffee; Maui Coffee; Molokai Coffee; Kauai Coffee; Hawaii Coffee Grading; Hawaii Coffee Facts; Hawaii Coffee History – Kona Coffee History; Kona Coffee Farm Tours.
Hamakua Coffee and Espresso Brewing Tips
For tips on brewing the perfect cup of Hawaii coffee see our section titled All About Coffee including tips on Coffee Brewing. You can also read detailed coffee flavor profiles of Gourmet Coffees and instructions on preparing the finest Espresso Drink Recipes.