Kaua‘i coffee growers pick to produce the perfect cup

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i Coffee Company general manager Fred Cowell likes to take an active role in monitoring the coffee crop. “We are constantly studying the bushes of coffee, not to (grow coffee) cheaper, but to consider how to produce a higher quality coffee.”

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    Ben Fitt of Outpost Coffee hand harvests coffee berries on Oct. 14.

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i Coffee Company workers spray down and clean equipment between fields to prevent the spread of the coffee leaf rust fungus and the coffee berry borer pest.

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    Outpost Coffee bushes grow under the canopy of larger trees. Growing under a canopy allows for more biodiversity in the orchard, however, the shade and heavy moisture can make coffee leaf rust more difficult to manage.

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    A worker sorts fruit by immersion in water. The Kaua‘i Coffee factory can pulp 1.2 million pounds of coffee per week.

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    Outpost Coffee barista Mac McDonald hand picks coffee cherries in Kilauea.

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    Coffee berries are hand harvested at the Outpost Coffee orchard on Oct. 14.

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i Coffee Company’s modified blueberry pickers can harvest up to 3,000 lbs. per hour. By comparison, a skilled coffee harvester can hand-pick between 15 and 20 lbs. per hour.

Coffee harvest is in full swing across Kaua‘i, and operations on the island’s two most-visible orchards look worlds apart.

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