Manny’s Farm is located in Holualoa, Kona, from the slope and stretching all the way to the seaside. Owner Manny advocates natural ways of cultivating coffee, using shade trees to adjust the temperature(shade grown), protecting the coffee plants from over exposure to the sun. Manny works hard to ensure each and every coffee cherry is equally plump. We asked him since coffee beans, after roasted, become pretty big, why not just use a bean grader? After all, most of the beans he grows will fall in the Extra-Fancy grade. Manny said firmly that he heard a lot of fellow coffee farmers mix coffee beans from different origins to have better coffee bean grade and sell at a higher price, but the coffee tastes off. That’s why he insists on providing consumers good quality plump beans grown from the same farm, instead of just looking at the size of the beans with no regards to where they come from. He never sorts or mixes coffee beans, the aim is always to grow good-size coffee cherries in a single estate.
Various fruit trees like white shaddock, grapefruit, lime, longan and sugarcane scattered around the coffee farm, bees are raised to enhance cross pollination between fruit trees and coffee plants, bringing additional different flavors and textures to coffee. Manny often says,” people ask me how come my coffee has such a special aroma, I think it’s because our fruit trees and coffee plants are already married underground!”
The estate is in the cloudy Kona region, Manny insists on natural exposure to the sun and it takes an average of at least 21 days. He told us that not only do you need to control the level of sun exposure based on experience, you also need to meticulously remove rotten coffee beans to avoid one bad apple spoils the whole barrel. This is the only way to control the quality of the end product that reaches the consumers. It is for such reason that Manny has been a constant winner at the Hawaii Coffee Association's Statewide Cupping Competition. He even entered a competition in France and came back with a Gold Medal. Listening to Manny telling his stories we see in his eyes the pride of a professional who never compromises.
Jose and Berta are a new generation of immigrants in the US, they grew up watching their parents grow coffee trees and started as pickers themselves, learning everything about coffee cultivation. Step by Step they work towards the goal of owning their own coffee estate farm. They came to the US, worked hard, moved around and ended up taking roots in Ka’u. At first they worked part time at different farms, learning through working. In the beginning it was just a few acres, went through a lot of trials and errors and grew their business to the now 80 acre plantation. They started to get noticed in 2015, and has been winning awards at the Hawaiian Coffee Association Cupping Competitions ever since.
Berta’s insistence on top quality constantly flows out of our conversations. She said in the past she once sold batches of beans at a low price but the customers stopped coming back because of the poor taste. She learned her lesson and decided to pivot from price-orientated competition to quality and customer oriented business.
Jose and Berta happily took us to the newest piece of farm land, which is their organic coffee estate farm. Berta explained that organic doesn’t com easy, since the start of soil preparation, all the fertilizers had to be certified by government agencies. This year they finally get to start planting coffee trees. Hopefully when we visit them again next year we’ll get to try the tasteful organic coffee.
Jose and Berta always begin their work before dawn, they often look at each other with affection and care. The understand each other like no other. At night the family pick beans under the light. Is it tough? Berta says no, because this is the time when the family come together and talk about everything and anything, this is the time she cherishes the most. This is coffee filled with affection and we can definitely feel the overflowing love in Jose and Berta’s family.