For an eye-opening glimpse into the world of 100% Kona coffee production, visit Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation. Set 3,200 feet above sea level, this Kailua-Kona plantation serves as a wonderful spot to grow coffee beans, and then roast them to perfection. Their location on the slope of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes ensures all their coffee trees have the most fertile volcanic soil to grow in. And their high elevation ensures the trees get the perfect amount of sunlight to produce ample beans every season.
On top of that, all their coffee gets grown using time-honored practices. For starters, they use sheep to control weed growth without any chemicals. Plus, their beans only come off the trees at peak ripeness due to their tradition of picking every last one by hand. After that, they put their coffee cherries in the wet mill to separate the fruit from the beans. The mill works fast without causing any damage to the beans. You simply have to see it to believe it.
Then, the beans go onto the drying deck to reduce the moisture content to around 10%. All the beans get raked by hand to keep them drying evenly, too. The beans then go into the dry mill for the removal of the hull before going through the sorting process. Once that’s all done, it’s time for the roasting process to commence. The roast master only works in small batches to get the flavor profile just right every time.
To see all the action happen before your very eyes, you’ll need to stop by the plantation during your visit to the Big Island. The tour guide will take you all around the plantation on a Kawasaki ATV, showing you every step of the coffee growing, processing, and roasting process in detail. You’ll get to see the trees growing, watch the mills work their magic, and even get to sample the freshly roasted beans.
After that, you can visit the gift shop to buy souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones back home. All their top coffee varieties are available in the gift shop, including their ever-popular 100% Kona Peaberry Coffee. Made using the rare extra beans hidden in the hull, this variety of coffee has a distinct flavor all its own. Prefer a more traditional brew? Get their 100% Kona Espresso Roast instead. If you need help finding your perfect variety, just ask the staff for their recommendations.
Other things to do here include:
Go on the Private Tour
Although their public tours are plenty fun, their private excursions let you enjoy one-on-one talks with the guide. Available for up to five people, these tours let you fully appreciate the coffee production process in full. You’ll even get to taste all the different roast types, so you can find your favorites amongst all the amazing options.
Try the Roast Master Experience
For an in-depth journey into the world of coffee roasting, try the Roast Master Experience. Available for one to six people, this opportunity lets you spend up to 90 minutes with their talented roast master. In that time, you’ll get to create a personal roast all your own to take with you at the end.
Book a Vacation Retreat
If you cannot bring yourself to leave the plantation at the end of your visit, inquire about their vacation retreat. Perfect for weddings, family reunions, and corporate retreats, this rental allows you to enjoy cloud forest to the fullest. It even comes with a complimentary tour of the plantation, plus quick access to all the best 100% Kona coffee beans.
If you’re craving their coffee upon returning home, just go to the website to put in an order. Want a discount on your favorites? Sign up for the Coffee Club to get automatic coffee shipments at 10% off. You may even get complimentary mugs or other collectibles upon joining the club.
-Wear comfortable closed-toe shoes and bring a light jacket for your tour. Also, remember to put on SPF 50+ sunscreen before you arrive.
-Want to take a walk through paradise? Pay a small fee to spend time exploring their nature trail.
-Their tours leave every 30 minutes, so plan to wait a little bit if they just left with another group.