Kona Coffee Festival: touring the farms

One of the most interesting activities at the Kona Coffee Festival is their coffee farm tours. I would recommend you sign up for the formal tour, which takes you on a minibus to three working farms, because they are led by professionals and, well, the farms know you’re coming. On larger farms, if you show up unannounced, it’s not a big problem; they have staff already designated to give tours no matter what. Boutique farms, however, have a harder time with surprises, especially this time of year. You see, the festival coincides with harvest season, so the coffee pickers are out in the fields and the farm owners are busy — much like harvest season in wine country.

Another advantage to a formal tour is the fact that they know where they’re going. I drove myself to Buddha’s Cup, which is about two miles up from the main road. The route got narrow and winding in a way that I thought I was going the wrong way. When I finally reached them, I asked, “Are you called Buddha’s Cup because you are so close to heaven?!” (Actually, it’s named for the owner’s son, who was an 11-pound baby at birth. The doctor handed him over and called him a Buddha baby.)

Kona Coffee Festival 2013

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As you drive to Buddha’s Cup, towards the top you will see banners indicating you’re getting closer. Note that they own four brands, so you might see Imagine or Kona Kulana banners as well.

Here are some shots from one of the formal tours with the Kona Coffee Festival. We went to three working farms in Keopu, an area that’s about 2,300 feet up.

Kona Coffee Festival 2013

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One of the working farms we visited was Hualalai Makai, located high in Keopu. When we turned in, the first thing I noticed was the plants: everything was gigantic, like Jurassic Park gigantic.

Disclosure: This trip was provided by the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

To see all photos from this trip, click here.