As we drove up this long, windy, foggy mountain (a photographers dream) to Mountain Thunder Coffee plantation I could barely hold my excitement in. This was the first legit coffee farm I have ever been able to visit. As we arrived we were greeted by some chickens just roaming the property, the smell of roasting coffee, and an airpot full of fresh coffee to sample…Perfect way to start, if you ask me. Although we waited awhile for the tour guide to be done with the previous group it was worth the wait. I learned this 100 year old coffee farm is the largest organic coffee farm in the state and is grown at the highest elevation, 3200 feet above sea level. There was a whole new world of things to learn as far as how the beans are dried, milled, and sorted. The most interesting part of the tour was how they sort the beans. As far as I know, Mountain Thunder Plantation is one of a few farms to have an infrared bean sorter. Most farms have humans picking through and sorting the good and bad beans but NOT Mountain Thunder. They have an $180,000 computerized four-channel color sorter that is linked to Adobe Photoshop. All they do is input the desired color, shade, and hue for their premium coffee and it gets sorted into the different grades of coffee. There are five grades of authentic Kona coffee: Extra Fancy, Fancy, Number One, Prime, and Select and six criteria by which the beans are judged: size, weight, density, color, number of defects, cupping quality, and moisture. Kona coffee is one of the most heavily graded coffee so their standards are set a bit higher.
Once we were done with the tour I was quite bummed because we weren’t taken down to the acres of coffee trees. Where, for me, the magic happens. So I asked someone if I could be taken down to the field to get a few photos, since Cafe Virtuoso is now buying coffee from their farm. I soon found out I asked the daughter of the owner. She personally walked me down and gave me even more information about the plants and the history behind the farm. She also explained they don’t take people down to the field anymore unless you pay for a private tour.
Here are a few photos I was able to capture during my visit.
The road leading up to Mountain Thunder.
Ducks greeted us as we arrived.
Mountain Thunder touring facility.
Coffee Cherries and the green coffee beans inside. So this is where coffee comes from…
Ginger just growing out of the ground.
This is me, Julie, at Mountain Thunder.