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A Timeline of Coffee in Hawai‘i

Find out when Hawai‘i began exporting coffee, the state’s first Starbucks opened and other historic moments.


Published:

1813  

Don Francisco de Paula y Marin plants coffee on O‘ahu, the first planting in Hawai‘i.

 

1825

Chief Boki, governor of O‘ahu, returns from Brazil with several coffee plants, which are planted in Mānoa Valley.

 

1828

The Rev. Samuel Ruggles plants cuttings from Boki’s coffee in Kona, where they thrive.

 

1845

Hawai‘i begins exporting coffee. Previously, coffee was grown for local consumption and sold to whaling ships.

 

1885

The first Japanese immigrants arrive to work on sugar plantations. Many eventually switch to coffee.

 

1910

Japanese farming families make up 80 percent of the coffee growers in Kona.

 

1922

Sugar replaces coffee growing everywhere in Hawai‘i except the Big Island.

 

1932

Public schools in Kona adopt the “Coffee Vacation,” a school break from August to November, allowing children to help pick coffee.

 

Late 1940s

Surplus military Jeeps replace “Kona Nightingales,” the donkeys traditionally used to haul coffee on Kona’s steep slopes.

 

1969

Kona schools give up the Coffee Vacation, conforming with the standard June-to-September summer break.

 

1970

The first Kona Coffee Cultural Festival occurs. The 10-day event is still held today.

 

1980s-1990s

Plantation agriculture’s demise opens the door to large-scale coffee production on Maui, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

 

1996

Hawai‘i’s first Starbucks opens at Kāhala Mall.

 

2013

Hawai‘i farm revenue for coffee is estimated at $33.6 million. 

 

2014

Hawai‘i remains the sole commercial producer of coffee in the United States.

 

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