After much deliberation and standing about... Mother and I decided to go back to Plan A. So, I changed back into my shorts in the parking lot and off we went.
We had passed a small Kona coffee co-op market on our way down to the water. We backtracked up the hillside and went in.
I always bring coffee home from anyplace we go. Kona was high on the list. I had seen it all over the place at exorbitant prices. This place had free tasting. They had the Peabody, which is the most expensive but I didn't know why. They had the "regular" Kona and they had Hawaiian/Kona blends. They had dark and medium roast for tasting in each of these types. Mmmm.. where to begin. With the Peabody of course!
I got a rundown from the hostess about the differences. Something I didn't know previously and was surprised to learn... Dark roast has a bitter finish and has less caffeine than a medium roast. WHAT! Why would anyone drink it then? I had always gone for the gusto of a dark roast. Medium roast is my new thing.
We took off outside with our hostess for a private tour of the processing plant. First stop... Kona coffee FYI...
We learned that it takes 6 pounds of the just picked "cherries" to make one pound of beans which makes about 40 cups of coffee.
Kona coffee, popular all over the world, is an arabica bean that is grown in one little strip on the Big Island of Hawaii. All other Hawaiian grown coffee is just Hawaiian coffee. Many times it is blended with Kona to bring the price down.
We were just down the hillside from the Kona strip. We had been driving through the area all week and didn't know it. Now that we know what the bushes look like, we see them everywhere!
The beans are picked beginning in April and the season runs through October. This co-op has pickers that bring in the "cherries" and sell them to be processed. There can be many private growers. The beans are harvested daily and only the ripe red ones are received into the processing plant.
The bushes are topped so that they grow no higher than about 6 to 7 feet to make harvesting easier. The Japanese have devised a tool that pulls the tops down, holds them while picked then is used to push the bush back up so that it will grow straight.
The Peabody beans are those that are harvested with only one "half" inside. Normal beans have two halves but in some beans, the second half is "absorbed", kind of like in a disappearing twin situation. The one bean then gets all of the nutrients that are normally shared between the two, and thus is a finer richer bean... and is more expensive due to rarity of occurrence. Here on the left is a Peabody bean. The two on the left and center are just Kona beans.
The beans are first loaded into a machine that floats the lesser quality beans. Then they are processed through a flat box with holes that sorts them according to size. Bigger is better.
The beans are husked and washed and set out to dry on this platform. They are raked like a zen-garden every 30 minutes for the first 2 days then left to once per day until they are adequately dried.
If it rains there is a roof that can be moved over the beans to protect them from moisture. After the beans are dried, they are graded then the Department of Agriculture comes in to verify the grade. They can then be roasted here or can be sent off to be roasted by the distributor. The roasting is altogether another process and there are many ways to do it. Now I don't feel so bad about paying over $30 per lb for the Peabodys.
As we walked out of the processing area, I saw this pineapple just growing in a weedy area. You've just gotta love a place where pineapples are the weeds. We found them in the store for $.99 cents! Yumm!!
We left the coffee place and on our way back to the hotel for a nap, I noticed this shack up on the hill where we stopped for gas. Man, if you're going to live in a shack, it might as well be here!
Our next event was the Luau! We were picked up at our hotel by a "limo" that turned out to be a "short bus". It was a fun ride though with all of the wedding party and guests aboard. We took off on the road through the lava again, out past the airport.
As we drove along, I realized that all the way down this road, there were graffiti, for want of a better word... white things arranged to spell names, encouragement, love you's, etc. Laura told me they were made from lumps of corral. I think they are left over from the recent Iron Man contest held in Hawaii. I guess the runners came this way. It's very neat, white corral on black or brown lava.
The Luau was a Wedding Event. Annette and Charlie, Laura's parents, had done a fabulous job of organizing everything. We had primo seats and were treated like royalty. We were led right up to the entrance past the long line of people waiting to get in. We were given leis and Mai Tais and then seated absolutely front and center of the stage.
Our table was the first to be invited to the buffet. The food was incredible. There were 4 tables. One held food from the Hawaiian Islands, one from Samoa, one from Tahiti and the last from Aotearoa, which is modern day New Zealand. It was all very fresh and delicious.
I tried new things. There were tarot roots that looked like purple sliced potatoes. They had sushi, they had poi. I tried to eat the poi, I just can't get into it. That plate sitting there with nobody next to it is mine. I couldn't eat nearly all of it but I gave it my best shot.
We all had bottomless drinks, the wait staff took great care of us. I think I even saw Mother with a Pina Colada.
The important kings for each of the Island groups. They told the story of how the peoples migrated from one Island group to the next and on to the next.
The Islands of Samoa were another nice one. The dances seem to give you a feel for the demeanor of the people there. They were friendly.
The scary ones were the Aotearoa (New Zealand). They had markings on their faces and did very agressive things in their dances. The most fun part was the dances with fire. They had the interpretive dancers do a fire dance first.
It was fabulous. They wouldn't let people take videos or this would be much better. The whole show was so good. We had a great evening with the red carpet rolled out just for us. Annette and Charlie, YOU ROCK!