Hawaiian coffee: a $50 million industry

Hawaiian coffee: a $50 million industry
Published: Aug. 20, 2015 at 10:48 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 20, 2015 at 3:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii coffee farmers produced 7.5 million pounds of coffee in the 2014-2015 harvest season, and sold it for an average farm price of $6.20 per pound.

Production was down 11% from the previous year but the price per pound rose 50 cents, so total farmgate revenue fell only 4%, to $50,250,000, the USDA Hawaii Field Office reports.

The average farm price of $6.70 compares to $6.20 in the previous season, $5.90 the year before that, and $4.15 the year before that, as more consumers develop a taste for Hawaiian specialty coffees.

While lower than the previous harvest, the 2014-2015 was much higher than the several harvests before that.

More than 900 farms across Hawaii grow coffee, including 600 just on the Big Island.

For years this has worked out to more than 8,500 acres planted in coffee trees with more than 7,500 acres harvested in any given season.

The industry has been concerned by the arrival on the Big Island of the coffee berry borer, the control of which requires significant work to keep the ground free of tree debris. The borer, to be found on coffee farms all over Latin America, is well-established on the Big Island and has been found on Oahu but has not been spotted on other islands.

Kona coffee has had a unique reputation for flavor for many years, but neighboring Ka'u District has been winning national awards as well, and sales are up for coffee grown in other parts of the state.

The largest single coffee plantation in Hawaii is on Kauai. Dole grows coffee on Oahu. Molokai has a coffee plantation. Maui has several farms of which the largest, above Lahaina, grows a mocha that has a chocolaty overtone without the addition of any flavoring.

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