Sea Grapes

excerpt taken from Marie C. Neal’s IN GARDENS OF HAWAII– 1965

Coccoloba uvifera: (the entire section below)

At home in thickets along sandy shores in warm parts of America is the sea grape,which in Hawaii is planted as a windbreak near beaches. It is a twisting tree, to 20 feet or more high; the trunk rarely attains a diameter of 3 feet. The branches zig zag and form a dense canopy; the bark is thin, smooth and brown. The tree is ornamental and bears attractive, broad,rounded, glossy, thick red veined leaves, the largest to a diameter of 8 inches. Early Christians in Mexico are said to have used the leaves for writing paper. When the leaves are fresh, scratches made with a sharp point show white on the green surface. Flowers of the sea grape are fragrant and grow in spikes about 6 inches long. Each has 5 sepals, 8 stamens and 3 styles. The pear shaped,reddish, sweetish-acid, astringent fruits hang in clusters, each fruit containing a large globose nut. In the West Indies an alcoholic drink is prepared from the fruits and jelly can be made of them. The roots also astringent, are used to cure dysentery. The wood is hard, polishes well and is valued, especially in Jamaica, for cabinet work. It also supplies fuel and, when boiled, yields a red dye. A gum from the bark is used for tanning and, medicinally for throat ailments. The tree grows from cuttings or seeds.

Final Sea grape note: In the latest edition of the COSTCO magazine (July 2015) -it lists the foreign COSTCOs and under Japan’s entry- the “Unique item not found in US: sea grapes”– such a coincidence

Total Satisfaction is our AIM!

When we guarantee satisfaction, we guarantee it when you receive it and we can not still be responsible for it 3 months later.

01/24/2015: In response to a customer who wrote yesterday. His roasted bag was sent October 22, 2014. He wrote yesterday (01/24/2015) saying the coffee tasted “really acidic”. Hmm… too many unknowns to replenish that 5 pound bag at our expense after 3(!) months. How did it taste for the first month(s)? okay-nuff said.

POINTS IN SUPPORT OF REFORMING THE HAWAII COFFEE LABELING LAW:

1As a matter of economic theory, if supply goes down, prices go up. Removing from the supply side what is estimated to be 5 million pounds of fake Kona coffee sold annually in Hawaii (that is, 5 million pounds in packages consisting of 90% foreign coffee with the name “Kona” prominently featured over and over again on the label—most of which is bought by visitors who believe they are buying “Kona Coffee”) this will cause both retail demand and farmgate prices for available genuine 100% Kona Coffee to go up—not down. See the Feldman study.

2If deceptive marketing and labeling of blends were outlawed (as Jamaica has done for Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee; as Vermont has done for Vermont Maple Syrup; as Idaho has done for Idaho Potatoes)—and if only 2 out of 10 of the consumers who previously bought “Kona Blends” believing they had purchased “Kona Coffee” were to instead buy genuine 100% Kona Coffee, the amount of Kona Coffee sold to those consumers would be DOUBLE the amount of Kona Coffee sold as compared to the previous Blend sales. If 4 out of 10 did so, the amount of genuine Kona Coffee sold would QUADRUPLE. With a stable output of approximately 3 million pounds of Kona Coffee produced annually—and with the supply reduced by eliminating the blends, prices will rise, not drop. Almost every one of us can give instances of consumer outrage and indignation when they have learned that the “Kona Coffee” they had bought is not “Kona Coffee.”

3Kona Coffee Blends are the equivalent of fake Rolexes—“Rolex”/”Kona” on the outside, something very different on the inside.

4If you take the juice from one orange and 9 lemons and call the product an “orange juice blend”, the result is consumer fraud.

5Jamaica produces roughly the same amount of coffee annually as does Kona. For years the retail price of Jamaica Blue Mountain has been 25% to 30% higher than the price of 100% Kona. Why? It is not that Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is better tasting—it is not. The difference is that Jamaica prohibits blending, and takes those who deceptively use the name of their coffee (including counterfeiters in the US) to court. Without having the supply side inflated by deceptive blends, Jamaica Blue Mountain is able to sustain much higher prices.

6By selling what amounts to $5/lb coffee at a price of $15 to $25/lb by merely putting the word “Kona” prominently and repeatedly on the label, the Blenders are able to send an estimated $14.4 million each year in “excess profits” to their Mainland corporate owners. If blends were outlawed, this excess profit would go to farmers in the form of higher farmgate prices. $14.4 million divided by approximately 700 Kona coffee farmers indicates that the economic loss to the average Kona Coffee farm is more than $20,000 per year. See the Feldman study.

7Nowhere on the label do the Blenders disclose to consumers that 90% of what is in the package is the cheapest commodity coffee available (often from Vietnam and other low end coffee producing regions). When the sophisticated writers at Consumers Reports can’t tell the difference between “Kona Coffee” and “10% Kona Blends”, it is not surprising that ordinary buyers are also deceived as to what is in a Kona Blend.

8When consumers who have purchased what they believe is “Kona Coffee”, but is in fact 90% commodity coffee and are disappointed in the taste, the reputation of our heritage crop is damaged and farmers suffer economically.

9Restaurants and hotels deceiving tourists into believing they are being offered “Kona Coffee” when it is 90% something else is no way to earn the goodwill of Mainland and foreign visitors. People don’t like to be cheated. This practice is bad for the tourism. Tourists like going places where they are treated fairly, not cheated.

10The only way that the Blenders/processors can come up with a figure that they “represent” 700 Hawaii small coffee farmers is if they are taking the position that they “represent” all farms that a some point in the past have sold coffee to them. In fact, when it comes to economics, the interests of the Blenders/processors are directly adverse to the economic interests of farmers. Farmers want the highest price possible for their crop; the Blenders/processors want to pay the lowest price possible. The Blenders/processors do not represent farmers.

11Even if the Blenders argument were correct (which it is not), is profit an excuse for fraud and deception?

12Hawaii is the only region anywhere in the world that by law permits the use of the name of one of its premier agricultural products with only 10% genuine content.

October 17, 2013 Out of coffee Note

We are out of our coffee, temporarily. BUT- we have our coffee at the millers and we will have our coffee back by Tuesday night!

The processed and washed coffee from our first two “rounds” of picking fresh mature coffee is drying in the sun. Like carefully cured tobacco leaves, perfectly ripe tomatoes or corn or any other farm products- our crop of excellent coffee is in the hands of Mother Nature!

mother nature

Coffee beans need to reach 11.5% moisture before they can be taken to the mill, have the parchment “skin” removed and be turned into green unroasted coffee.Then we can bring it home and send it to you green or roasted. About 10 days or less and then we will have our mountain of coffee for sale again.

I know you will be disappointed and it is painful for us not to have what you want. Nothing we can do. We are a high elevation coffee farm at nearly 1900 feet which makes the ripening slower than it is at lower elevation farms. Some people believe that because of the slower ripening, our coffee tatses better.

If you want to be put on the “alert” list for green coffee or roasted coffee, please email me and you will know the very moment we have our coffee ready for you! No obligation incurred.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and your patience.

with aloha, Cea and Bob

October 9, 2013

UPDATE 10/09/13: The first “round” of picking has happened. But it needs to be processed. For a brief view of Processing see here After the processing and the coffee is dried to the perfect moisture and taken off the drying decks, it then will be taken to the milling, where the parchment skin is removed. Then we bring it home.
It will take about 2 weeks before we will have Crop 2013-2014 ready for sale.