Visiting coffee plantation tasting rooms on the Big Island of Hawaii is one of our favorite things to do when traveling there. On prior trips to Kona, we stopped at coffee farms and did some coffee tastings of island-grown Kona Coffee, and have been addicted ever since. Last week, Frank attended a conference in Kona, and before he left, my one charge to him was to bring back some coffee. He took that seriously, and this is his tale of finding a special family-owned Kona Coffee farm at Da Kine Coffee Bean. You wouldn't dream of visiting Napa Valley without tasting the wine, so you shouldn't visit Kona without a taste of the rich, wonderful coffee.
I landed on time in Kona, and after getting a grey Chevy Impala and a bite to eat, I headed down Highway 11 to Kona Coffee country. Before I left for Kona, I had tried looking for some places to try coffee online and found a website for Kona Coffee Roasting listing a huge number of coffee farms and plantations on the western slopes of the Big Island. The list was lengthy, and it was hard to pick a place. However, many of the listings boasted about “cupping competitions,” so I started doing Google searches for Kona coffee farms who won these, and stumbled across an old article that mentioned Terry Fitzgerald and his farm Da Kine Coffee Bean. It seems he was one of the Kona pioneers.
In the early 1970s, Fitzgerald took over a coffee farm that had gone wild, and helped cultivate Kona Coffee to be what it is today. This sounded like a piece of Kona Coffee history, so I e-mailed him through the website to ask if I could visit, and was told to “come on up”.
So, between milepost 105 and 104 on Highway 11 in Honaunau, I saw the small yellow sign for Da Kine, and headed up the mountain. 20 minutes and 1 mile later (yes, it’s a really rough road), after wondering if I’d made a wrong turn somewhere, I again saw a little yellow “Da Kine” sign, and parked.
Terry Fitzgerald came out to greet me a very friendly man with a beard in a sarong. His wife, Susan, peeked out and also said a cheerful “Hello”, and wanted to know if I wanted my beans dark or medium. They had some dark, but no medium, and I said I’d try both and so she fired up the roaster. At first I was honored at this special treatment, but they said the way they always do it - the beams are all stored green and roasted to order, even when ordering through the internet. While we were talking, their 7 year old son, Sonny, started poking out from behind the bushes, taking pot shots at me with his Nerf gun.