Entries Tagged as 'tour'

Greenwell Kona Coffee Farms

March 25th, 2011 · 4 Comments

After lunch Cory, Caroline and I made the spontaneous decision to tour a Kona coffee farm. You can’t be a coffee drinker in Kona and not do this, right?

Greenwell Kona Coffee Farm was located just down the road, so we decided to go there. When we arrived there was a little gift shop and a small parking area. We parked the car and walked up. The free tour was just about to begin. Great timing! We were invited to take a taste of the coffee ahead of time and to bring a sample on the tour with us.

There were about 10 people on the tour, so it was a nice, small group. Our guide, Gloria, covered what was involved in the coffee-making process, plus a bit about the history of Greenwell Farms. She walked us across a small street to an area where they had some coffee trees growing. On the way Gloria pointed out some other things they grow at the farm – macadamia nuts, oranges, huge avocados, bananas.

Gloria told us that most of the their coffee is grown up the mountain. Greenwell Farms buys coffee cherries from 300 farmers in the North and South Kona Regions. Down by the tour site was the original farm and we could see the original, vintage coffee trees. Greenwell farms has been operating on this land since the Greenwell family was there back in the 1800s.

In the early spring time the orchards are in full bloom with white flowers. A lot of people call this “Kona Snow” because the orchard in full bloom looks like a snowstorm hit! In the fall the flowers turn and the trees are then covered with “Coffee Cherries.”

These red cherries are hand-picked and harvested from August to February. Farmers from all over Kona come to Greenwell Farms with their day’s picking. Gloria told us that all Kona coffee must be picked by hand and that is why it’s sometimes so pricey. Other coffee farms plant their coffee tree rows wider and send machines down to pick all the berries – green, red, or otherwise. This leads to the coffee being less consistent in taste. Kona pickers pick all the red berries off the tree and leave the green ones or overripe brown ones. Then they’ll revisit the tree again later on and pick the ripe berries again. It’s a longer, more laborous process, but leads to a more consistent quality and taste in the coffee.

Greenwell Farms operates pulping and drying facilities, a mill, and a bean grading and sorting facility. Though they employ many modern industrial coffee practices, some things they have are still super old school. Like the Hoshidanas, which are platforms used to sun-dry the coffee.

Greenwell Farms also has a roasting facility that is used to roast coffee that is sold retail and wholesale. They also roast for a bunch of other coffee companies in Kona. They even sell green beans to the coffee industry and have established themselves as a premiere source of Kona Coffee. Gloria told us that Greenwell Farms produces 20% of all Kona coffee sold worldwide. As a sidenote, in order for a coffee to be packaged and labeled as a “Kona blend” it has to contain at least 10% Kona coffee.

After the tour we got to taste all of the coffee products at the Greenwell Farms Store. Other than coffee, we tried chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and chocolate-covered coffee beans. The nuts and beans are grown on-site and all of the chocolate products are made from Kona-grown cocoa beans at the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory. They also sold some Big Island Bees honey.

Gloria told us a story about how they noticed that the Kona coffee pickers had really young-looking hands. They did some studies and found out that the fruit of the cherry is a natural anti-aging substance. They used to use this as a mulch or fertilizer, but now they sell it to a Kauai company, Malie, who uses it in anti-aging creams. I was interested in trying this, but it was $50 for just one ounce!

The coffee fruit is also chock full of antioxidents and nutrients, and so Greenwell Farms also sells the coffee fruit to KonaRed who makes a “wellness beverage” from it. I thought it was interesting how this side-product industry has popped up. Where before they would take the pulp and work it back into the ground, they now sell it for a profit.

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Louisiana Swamp Tour

April 10th, 2008 · No Comments

I was talking with Tien before going to New Orleans and he said that he and Shannan had gone on a Louisiana swamp tour when they were down there and had a really great time. You can see from his photographs that they saw a lot of alligators on their tour and were having a good time, so I signed up.

Tien recommended the small, high-speed air boat. Listening to him as much as I normally do, I went ahead and booked the slow, covered, 40-person boat. Actually, it wasn’t because I don’t take his advice, but because the slow boat was $30 less. I also went for the option where the tour sent someone to the hotel to pick me up, so that cost a little more than Tien paid. When I got out to the swamp, it turned out there was a mixup with scheduling and I got upgraded to the high-speed air boat for free.

I don’t think that this is a bad tour to go on, but I didn’t enjoy it that much. It was neat to see the bayou, the swamp, the marshlands, whatever you want to call it, but the night before the morning tour was a horrible storm. Thunder and lightening so loud and bright that it woke us up at the hotel. What this did was drive away a lot of the birds and wildlife, raise the waterline and bring a lot of salt water into the area. Unfortunately, we only saw a few birds and the eyes of two alligators as they swam away from us. Plus, it was freezing. I brought a light jacket with me, but most of the time in my head I was just thinking “OMG! It’s so cold! Let’s go back to the dock already! There’s nothing out here!” After 15 minutes we kind of got the idea that there was nothing more to see.. but then we had 1 hour and 45 minutes left of the tour.

Our tour guide was a local guy.. maybe about 25 years old.. who had obviously grown up on the bayou and told a lot of stories of life there. He spent a lot of time telling us how redneck and coonass he was.

I would still recommend the tour because I personally know people that have been on it and had a great time. Just hope for good weather just before the tour and for sun during the tour.

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The Historic Hermann-Grima House

December 12th, 2006 · No Comments

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Hermann-Grima House, French Quarter, New Orleans

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Hermann-Grima House, French Quarter, New Orleans

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Looking at the Slave Quarters, French Quarter, New Orleans

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The only functional 1830s outdoor kitchen in the French Quarter

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Hermann-Grima House, French Quarter, New Orleans

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Hermann-Grima House, French Quarter, New Orleans

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Slave Bedroom, French Quarter, New Orleans

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Hermann-Grima House, French Quarter, New Orleans

I was just wandering in the French Quarter and came across this historic house that was giving tours. It was cheap and I had time, plus, I’m not sure why but I really like seeing how people lived in past times (Pabst Mansion, Mount Vernon).

This was the Hermann-Grima house, named for the 2 families that lived there, the Hermanns first then the Grimas. From their website

Built in 1831, HERMANN-GRIMA HOUSE is one of the most significant residences in New Orleans. This handsome Federal mansion with its courtyard garden boasts the only horse stable and functional 1830s outdoor kitchen in the French Quarter.

Painstakingly restored to its original splendor through archaeological studies and careful review of the building contract and inventories, the museum complex accurately depicts the gracious lifestyle of a prosperous Creole family in the years from 1830 to 1860.

Most of the people on the tour were fresh off a cruise boat that had just been in the Caribbean, but originated in London. I think. They were all British, for sure. As with most historic house tours, we couldn’t take photos inside the main house. We were allowed to once we were out in the courtyard, a feature not uncommon to houses in New Orleans. We were also able to take a few photos in the structure separate from the main house. This was the slave quarter and also where the kitchen was located. Interesting side note: Many of the slave quarters in New Orleans that still exist are rented apartments and the real estate listings still call them “slave quarters.”

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