It has been almost 25 years since the former Pioneer Mill Company first started planting coffee on their Kaanapali Estate in West Maui. Today, MauiGrown Coffee is not only flourishing as one of the largest commercial coffee growers in the U.S., but they've also carved a growing market niche worldwide for their 100% MAUI Origin Coffee.
"Back in 1988 we planted four Arabica varietals - Yellow Caturra, Red Catuai, Typica and Mokka," said James "Kimo" Falconer, President of MauiGrown Coffee. "At the time, it was considered cutting edge to have multiple coffee varieties planted on a single estate. Through the years, we focused on refining our varietal approach to growing coffee and our harvesting and processing methods. Today, the fruits of our labor are paying off."
MauiGrown Coffee is unique in that the farm offers both washed and natural process in each variety of coffee. Their methods for harvesting, processing and storing their varieties separately also differ from most coffee farms worldwide. This distinction has helped the company carve a new market niche and driven up the demand for 100% MAUI Origin Coffee.
In 1995, in their first year, the Kaanapali Estate sold approximately 65,000 lbs of coffee. In 2013, over 450,000 lbs of coffee were sold under the MauiGrown Coffee brand in Hawaii, the Continental U.S., Japan, Germany, Korea, Australia and Canada.
Hawaii roasters embraced MauiGrown Coffee's natural product from the get go, whereas the U.S. Mainland markets have traditionally preferred the washed product. However, the company sees a shift in this trend with more mainland roasters now carrying the natural product which may be attributed to either a taste preference and/or the company's continued efforts to perfect the handling of their natural coffees.
"Since the opening of the company's retail store in Lahaina seven years ago, we've seen the demand for these coffees quadruple," Jeff Ferguson, Co-owner of the MauiGrown Coffee Company Store. "Our niche is offering MauiGrown's natural processed coffees which our customers from around the world seem to gravitate towards. These distinct coffees offer a sweeter, fruitier flavor with occasional notes of dark chocolate and cherries."
"MauiGrown Coffee is a great example of the expansion of coffee in Hawaii," said Dave Gridley, President of Maui Oma Coffee Roasting Co. "For so long everyone growing coffee in Hawaii tried to be like the Kona varietals on the Big Island of Hawaii. Then MauiGrown Coffee came along and created their own reputation offering unique processing techniques and multiple varieties of coffee to choose from. It really opened the door for other coffee growers in Hawaii."
"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 fresh off our recent harvest season, I feel like we're still perfecting our craft, improving, learning and passionately involved with the Hawaii Coffee and Specialty Coffee industry in order to create a superb cup of coffee. Our varietals are like our babies and we're excited to see them growing up."
MauiGrown Coffee will be exhibiting at the 26th Annual Specialty Coffee Association of America Exposition in Seattle, WA on April 24-27 (booth # 10042), as well as at future Coffee Fest shows in St. Louis, MO and Portland, OR later this year. Sampling of MauiGrown Coffee's new Maui Mokka coffees will debut at the shows.