As numbers go, this year is a celebratory one for MauiGrown Coffee.
25 years ago the former Pioneer Mill Company first started planting coffee on their Ka`anapali Estate –today, it is home of the premier agricultural community of Ka`anapali Coffee Farms. 10 years ago Ka`anapali Estate vice president, Kimo Falconer, realized his dream of starting his very own coffee operation when he established MauiGrown Coffee, Inc. 7 years ago MauiGrown Coffee Company Store, located adjacent to the historic Pioneer Mill Company’s smokestack, opened its doors in 2006 to the delight of coffee enthusiasts locally and worldwide.
Today, MauiGrown Coffee is one of the largest commercial coffee growers in the U.S. and the original and only major producer of 100% MAUI Origin Coffee in the world. Efforts to establish a unique brand and a coveted place in the coffee world have been an amazing journey for this kama`aina company, and the opportunity to share the fruits of their labor to a worldwide audience continues to fuel their passion.
“It seems like only yesterday that we were knee-deep in coffee research and traveling to coffee-growing regions around the world,” said Falconer. “Fast forward 25 years and heading into a new harvest season, I feel like we’re still perfecting our craft improving on our growing, harvesting and production methods to create a superb cup of coffee.”
The company’s roots began in the late 1980s. West Maui, it turned out, provided a perfect growing environment for four arabica varieties – “Yellow Caturra”,“Red Catuai”, “Typica”, and a nearly 1,000-year old variety called “Mokka”. Because of the impressive results of its field trials, Pioneer Mill planted what would eventually become a 500-acre commercial coffee operation. The company built a processing plant and purchased coffee harvesting equipment. In less than a decade, Pioneer Mill renamed the operation Ka`anapali Estate Coffee and was producing 500,000 pounds of green arabica beans annually.
Despite a tremendous amount of hard work and perseverance, continued losses in sugar proved to be the downfall of Pioneer Mill Company. But the company’s commitment to preserve West Maui’s agricultural roots remained steadfast. Even after Pioneer Mill closed down, landowner Kaanapali Land Management Corp. continued to maintain the coffee trees in the hopes that someone would take over and keep the land in agriculture as they had intended.
Re-enter James “Kimo” Falconer – a fifth-generation Lahaina resident with a passion for nurturing the land and for coffee in equal measure. With the help of Kaanapali Land Management Corp. and his strong resolve, the dormant Ka`anapali Estate Coffee plantation would soon live again under the MauiGrown Coffee banner
Today, one can visit Kaanapali Coffee Farms on the breathtaking slopes of the West Maui Mountains, home of MauiGrown Coffee. It’s definitely worth a visit or you can choose to live in this master-planned community (ownership includes your very own coffee orchard!) – a place steeped in tradition and natural beauty.
With a bevy of anniversaries to celebrate this year, MauiGrown Coffee can honestly say their cup runneth over.