Monday, January 20, 2014


Woke up in Kailua in the Kona district this morning.  Caught tour bus at a reasonable hour (for a change) and motored down the coast to the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii.  There we sat through a one-hour lecture on ocean thermal energy, solar, wind, geothermal, etc.  I'll spare you.  That was followed by a quick visit to an aquaculture company that was experimenting with deep-ocean fish farming, using a species of rapid-growing fish called Kampachi.  Easy to do in Kona because it has no continental shelf, so a few hundred yards offshore, the ocean is thousands of feet deep.

Then it was away from the sea and up the Hualai volcano (there are 5 active volcanoes on the Big Island) to a height of 3000 feet to visit the Mountain Thunder coffee plantation.  After a short film, we had samples of their world-famous coffee (sorry, it all just tastes coffee-ish to me), some chocolate-covered coffee beans, a tour of their artisanal factory, then home for a late lunch.

Morning in Kona

Solar cooker

Coffee tree at Mountain Thunder

Coffee bean flowers

Ripe coffee beans

Passion-fruit tree flowers

Coffee beans at assorted stages

Owner explaining artisanal coffee roaster

Finished product ready to ship.  To make their decaf version, the beans are shipped to Vancouver for processing with the Swiss Water Process, then shipped back for packaging and sale.  No doubt that's part of the reason why it costs $45/pound.

Nearby lava tube.  The island is riddled with them, some as long as 40 miles.  They were sometimes used as burial places by islanders, so whenever any construction project runs across one, all work stops while the tube is explored.  Once cleared, they have to be filled in before work can continue.

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