Farm: Kona Rainforest Farm
Process: Anaerobic Washed
Region: South Kona, Big Island of Hawaii
A powerful cup reminiscent more of a Kenyan coffee than a typical Kona, thanks to its unique cultivar. It boasts tropical fruit aromas with hints of plumeria and toasted coconut. In the cup, it reveals a focused acidity alongside notes of cherry, mango, and grapefruit.
Kona Rainforest is the largest and one of the last remaining certified organic coffee farms in Hawaii. Despite the steady decline in the number of Certified Organic farms over the years, the vast majority have relinquished their certification in the past two years due to the devastating coffee leaf rust disease.
The farm spans 40 acres, situated at elevations of 1600-2000ft along the slopes of Mauna Loa in South Kona. It features an advanced mill for processing coffee from cherry to green bean, powered entirely by solar energy. While Typica is the primary variety grown, the farm also nurtures small plots of other varieties such as K7, SL34, and Red Bourbon.
In 2023, they collaborated with Miguel to develop a yeast fermentation protocol for each variety, exclusively using organic certified yeasts. Among the hundreds of commercial yeast strains available, only a select few are certified for organic use. This collaboration led to the discovery of a strain that enhances the acidity and tropical fruit notes of the SL34 variety when processed as an anaerobic washed coffee.
This season, production was limited, with only 15 lbs available. Encouraged by these results, the farm is intent on increasing production in the next harvest season.
The SL34 variety was selected in the 1930s by Scott Laboratories in Kenya. Along with SL28, it is celebrated for its exemplary cup quality among the classic Kenyan varieties. Recent genetic comparisons have distinguished SL34 from the Typica/Bourbon group, which includes most cultivated coffee worldwide, identifying a match with some plants still grown in Yemen today.
Miguel selected SL34 for planting at the then-new Hula Daddy Kona Coffee farm 15 years ago. Their SL34 has secured 1st place in the Kona cupping competition, the Hawaii State cupping competition, and has received 97 point scores on Coffee Review.
Under Kona's growing conditions, SL34 has demonstrated impressive performance, yielding good production and exceptional cup quality. Seeds from Hula Daddy have been used to cultivate seedlings for other Kona farms, such as Kona Rainforest. However, its cultivation remains limited, with only a few farms dedicating 1-3 acres to this variety.