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Expensive Equipment
20 January 2008


Growing Kona coffee is expensive.  Even though Kona coffee is considered a gourmet coffee and commands a higher price than almost any other coffee the profit margin for growing Kona coffee is still surprisingly small.  Our largest expense by far is labor.  Every single Kona coffee bean is picked by hand without the help of any giant combines or fancy machines.  That doesn't mean we don't need any farm equipment, quite the contrary, we could easily go broke buying all the fancy machines we need.

Pulp Being on an island in the middle of the ocean makes finding and purchasing farm equipment a challenge.  Mail order works fine for smaller items such as grafting clips, sprayer parts or seeds for the garden.  Larger items are more difficult because the cost of shipping heavy equipment quickly becomes prohibitive.  Mail order also has issues when you don't know exactly what you want.  Catalog pictures don't really show how well a fertilizer spreader will or won't work on the farm.

Denlab There are a few vendors in town.  We have a Walmart and Home Depot that work great for things like cheap work boots, leather gloves or new shovels.  Finding specialty items is a little more difficult.  Even Home Depot's best weed whacker isn't really designed for constant farm use and Walmart is totally useless for finding things like commercial coffee grinders, certified scales or coffee bag sealers.

One of my favorite local vendors is Emmerich at Captain Cook Trading Company.  He has no employees, no showroom and no cash register.  He operates from a tiny warehouse located between the alcohol abuse center and a granite cutting shop that is so noisy he has to wear earplugs all day long.  I usually call first because if I don't there's a good chance he won't even be there.  None of that matters though because when it comes to browsing through specialty coffee and macadamia nut processing equipment, Captain Cook Trading Company is pretty much the only show in town.

Cracker We recently stopped by Emerich's place to purchase some more bags for our 2oz. coffee samples.  While there I had to stop and admire all the other equipment I want to purchase.  A good macadamia nut cracker would be nice.  I also need a large floor scale.  He has coffee roasters the size of a barbeque and of course a large variety of coffee pulpers.

I got Emmerich to show me one of his fancy coffee pulpers.  I've looked at it a couple times before but wanted to see it again.  It has a pulper, criba, demucilager, two electric motors and an auger all designed into a single compact frame with a single 220V power supply.  Unfortunately this model is too small for our needs but it's still fun to look at.  Well, I found it fun to look at.  Valerie and the girls waited patiently in the car until I was done drooling on all of Emmerich's fancy equipment.

Besides selling equipment, Emmerich also does a lot of macadamia nut business.  He cracks, roasts and packages his own mac nuts.  When I got there he had several trays of macadamia nuts that he was in the middle of processing.  I resisted the temptation to sneak a sample while he was looking the other way.

Maybe some day we'll get our own macadamia nut processing equipment.  Even though we plan to replace most of our mac nut trees with coffee we'll still have enough mac nut trees left that it may be worth purchasing some processing equipment of our own.  That's rather low on the list though, there are plenty of other items we need to purchase first.  No matter, when the time comes I'm sure Emmerich will be happy to show me all his macadamia nut processing equipment.  Again.


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