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Coffee Mill
26 September 2007

Roger Kima

Hoshidana A lot of Kona coffee farmers are what we call cherry farmers because they grow coffee then sell the unprocessed coffee cherry to one of the local mills.  Kona Earth is considered an estate farm because we process our own coffee, taking it from the tree all the way through to roasted beans.  We're also kind of a cherry farmer because we don't yet have the capacity to process and sell all the coffee we grow.  We process all the coffee we can then the extra cherry is sold to Roger and Kima at the Ka'Io Farms mill.

The guys at Ka'Io are quite selective and won't buy coffee cherry from just anyone but I'm proud to say that they do like my coffee cherry.  Roger and Kima have a lot of experience with Kona coffee.  Their mill was built by some of the first Japanese coffee growers on the island.  The Japenese built the mill to fit their dimensions so all the doorways feel short and narrow to me.  The machinery has been modernized but most of the wooden structure and the layout are still original.  The coffee is dried on a tradition hoshidana which is a flat deck with a rolling roof.  When it's sunny they roll the roof back then when rain starts someone has to run out and close the roof before the coffee gets wet.  Sometimes I think I bring the rain with me off the mountain and we have to stop unloading coffee while Roger closes the hoshidana roof.

Pulper It's always fun to visit Roger and Kima.  Not only are they happy to answer all my questions, I also learn a lot from just watching them work.  Most recently they were having some issues with their pulper.  The pulper is where the action happens, it is kind of like a giant spinning cheese grater that separates the inner bean from the outer pulpy layer.  It's made out of steel but it is still quite delicate and has to be adjusted just right.

Truck A couple nights ago, as I pulled up with my truck full of freshly picked coffee cherry, I was happy to see that Roger and Kima had a young helper who was just standing there looking for something to do.  Unfortunately, just as I opened the back of the truck to start unloading 1300 pounds worth of coffee, their helper's cell phone rang.  Apparently it was an important call because it lasted a good 15 minutes.  He did finish in time to help with the last bag though.

The next day when I pulled up with another truck full of freshly picked coffee I was surprised to see that the pulper was taken apart and had a giant hole in it.  As they were finishing up the previous night their helper swept up some coffee he had spilled and threw it into the pulper, along with a stray bolt.  Bolts don't pulp very well.  In fact bolts can make giant holes pulpers.  Luckily they had recently ordered some new pulper parts from Colombia so they had the pieces they needed.  It still took two days to get the pulper working again and that was with two experienced millers working on the problem.  I can't imagine how long it would take me to fix a similar problem all by myself.

Roger and Kima took the entire thing in stride.  I don't think I've ever seen Roger without a pleasant smile on his face.  Even when obviously overworked and tired, they still only have good things to say.  Selling coffee to them is always a great way to end a busy day.


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