Perk up your Hawaii visit with this 2-hour behind-the-scenes look at the lush grounds and fascinating machinery of an organic coffee farm on the Big Island. This insider’s exploration of the award-winning Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation is a great way to expand your coffee knowledge as you get an A to Z look at the entire process, from the farm all the way to your cup.
Head to the plantation in the morning to begin your coffee adventure, where you’ll start your day with (what else?) free samples of coffee and tea made using Mountain Thunder’s own stock. After enjoying a segment on coffee production from the popular ‘Dirty Jobs’ TV show (it was filmed on site at Mountain Thunder) you’ll continue on short nature walk through the lush tropical forest to reach the farm’s own coffee orchard.
Smell the scent of wild ginger, green tea and vanilla in the air as you get a first-hand look at how coffee is grown. Admire the unexpected red and green ‘cherries’ (beans) in their pre-roasted and dried state, and check out coffee flowers in bloom on the trees. As you explore this beautiful area, you may also come across some of the farm’s many animal residents, including white Chinese geese, Saint Croix sheep, Muscovy ducks, Kona nightingale donkeys, and Toulouse geese. If you’re hoping to see more animal life, make sure to also keep an eye out for plantation residents like Hawaiian hawks (ka’io), endangered Hawaiian birds, wild parrots, pheasants, peacocks, chickens, ducks and Ezzy, the farm’s Hawaiian pet pig.
After visiting the orchard, head to Mountain Thunder’s wet mill to get a look at how coffee fruit is pulped, fermented and dried. Following the wet mill, continue to the dry mill, where you’ll observe coffee as it’s hulled, sized, graded and sorted into various quality levels. Last but not least, head to the roasting kitchen to watch as the beans are turned into the finished product. The State of Hawaii’s current barista champion will also be on hand to answer any questions about coffee brewing and preparation.