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Kona Snow
25 February 2007


Sky Hawaii isn't known for it's annual snow accumulation.  While the beaches never see snow, the tops of the two largest volcanoes near Kona are nearly 14,000 feet high and they do occasionally get snow up there.  Half way between the beaches and the mountains, we get another type of snow here in Kona coffee country.

In late winter and early spring, after a soaking rain, the coffee trees will bloom.  Our Kona coffee trees produce small, white flowers that smell somewhat like jasmine.  If it's a good bloom, every tree will be covered with these white flower making the whole field look as if it's covered with a fresh layer of snow, hence the name Kona Snow.

The timing of a blooms is difficult to predict because it depends on rainfall patterns.  When it does bloom, it only lasts a few days.  If you're in Kona coffee country during a coffee bloom, it's worth taking some time to stop and smell the flowers.

All those blooms also bring lots of bees.  So many bees that the fields are absolutely buzzing with activity.  One little bee doesn't make much noise but an entire field filled with them has a definite hum.  The bees are quite harmless.  They're so busy doing their busy bee work that they hardly care about humans.  Being on an island in the middle of the Pacific, we don't currently have any problems with Africanized bees (i.e. killer bees).

Most coffee farmers pay close attention to the bloom.  Each coffee bean starts as a flower so it's possible to predict the year's harvest by counting flowers.  Of course it would be unreasonable to count every single flower out there, especially since there are several blooms every year.  Instead, we count how many flowers per node, how many nodes per branch, how many branches per tree and how many trees per acre.  That provides a good estimate of how many pounds of coffee can be expected.

The larger Kona coffee farms pay very close attention to each season's bloom.  We pay attention too but mostly we're happy to just enjoy the pretty flowers and busy bees.  It's nice to have a little touch of spring even though it's still the middle of winter.


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