Interview Series: Greenwell Farms
Updated: Aug 30, 2022
Greenwell Farms is a family owned coffee farming and processing company in Kona, Hawaii that has been bringing 100% Kona Coffee to coffee lovers around the world since the 1850’s. This coffee farm has the honor of being the oldest coffee farm in the United States.
Flavor Waves had the honor of interviewing Tommy Greenwell, the Great Grandson of Greenwell Farms founder, Henry Nicholas Greenwell.
The History of Greenwell Coffee
In 1850, Henry Nicholas Greenwell left England to pursue a new life in Kealakekua, Hawaii, which today is known as the Heart of Kona. Mr. Greenwell was later joined by his wife, Elizabeth Caroline, and the couple would spend the next 40 years farming, ranching and producing Kona Coffee. Eventually, the Greenwell’s one-of-a-kind coffee would catch the attention of coffee lovers around the world and in 1873, the President of the Kaiser’s Exposition awarded them with a “Recognition Diploma” for their Kona Coffee at the World’s Fair in Vienna, Austria.
Henry Greenwell’s legacy continued decades later when his grandson, Norman Greenwell, and his great grandson, Thomas Greenwell, developed coffee in the early 1980s on some of the same land. This new generation of the Greenwell family has marshaled in the modern era of specialty coffee in Kona and has played an important part in Hawaii’s coffee industry. As one of the largest and oldest coffee producers in Kona, Greenwell Farms is proud to celebrate its history and spread the spirit of aloha with every cup.
Thomas Greenwell is the 4th generation to keep this historic farm producing and his son, Ben Greenwell, will be the 5th generation.
Farm and Harvesting
Today, the farm occupies 150 acres for coffee growing and production. There are three main farms ranging from 35 to 60 acres and five small farms ranging from 5-9 acres each. The smaller farms are cared for by hand.
Running a coffee farm of this size is no small task! They currently employ 52 full time staff in the following departments; office staff, roasting, tours, producing and retail business.
In addition, they have eight full-time employees dedicated to solely farming coffee.
Green Coffee & Varietals
The main arabica varietals grown at Greenwell Farms are: Red Bourbon, K7 Kenya Variety, Pacamara, Mamo and two types of Hawaiian Typica.
One type of Typica was originally brought to Kona, Hawaii in 1828 and not grown much anywhere else today. It was originally from the West Indies / Brazil. Then it was replaced by a variety from Guatemala in the late 1890’S. Today, Greenwell Farms grows both the original and the newer version.
Pacamara varietal is a cross between Pacas and Maragogipe
Mamo varietal is a blend of Maragogipe and Mokka, a hybrid that Greenwell created. A ½ acre of this varietal is growing right now on the farm and it sells out every single year. Maragogipe was discovered in Brazil and Mokka is from Yemen.
Greenwell Farms continues to also sell green coffee to England, Germany, Asia, and the United States which happens to receive the majority of green coffee sales.
Popular Coffees & Flavors
100% Kona coffee from the Big Island of Hawai'i is by far a consumer favorite. The classic Kona coffees range from light roast to espresso. They also have specialty private reserve and estate roasts.
Flavored coffee is popular among travelers and visitors to the island. Two of the most popular flavors are Chocolate Macadamia Nut and a seasonal favorite called October Autumn Harvest which is similar to pumpkin spice.
Visit the Farm
When visiting the big island of Hawai'i, Greenwell Farms is a must see! They offer complimentary guided tours of the coffee farm and processing facilities daily from 9:00am-3:00pm. From seed to cup, guests are given an inside look at the history, farming and processing of coffee before sampling and tasting Greenwell Farms’s 100% Kona Coffee. Tours are guided over unpaved, uneven terrain with mild upslope and downslope. Unescorted viewing of the farm is prohibited. Tours last 45-60 minutes and coffee is available for sampling both before and after the tour.
Looking to connect with Greenwell Farms? Here is where you can find them!
Product Inquiries, Green Coffee Sales, Visitor Center:
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