Skip to content
First Harvest 2020

First Harvest 2020

Each year, we invite the public to visit the farm and help us pick the first coffee of the season. Due to the global pandemic, we kept our group small this year but still managed to have fun and pick nearly 35 pounds of coffee cherry! This year’s First Harvest was on Saturday September 12th, 2020. The following account is by Malia Bolton, our Director of Operations.

Only the brightest red coffee cherry are picked, leaving the green or pale red fruit to ripen until another round of picking. PHOTO: Ali Rowe

I usually try to sleep in on Saturdays, but last week I was up early for our Sixth Annual Kona Coffee First Harvest. It always feels so great to be out in the coffee fields helping to harvest the first batch of ripe red coffee cherries. Picking is the initial step in the long farm-to-cup process that I love so much.

Like so much in life this year, the event was different from our previous First Harvest events. We had originally planned to welcome our local community up to the farm but decided it was best to limit this year’s group to family and employees due to the coronavirus pandemic. We didn’t want to take any risks as cases of COVID-19 on the island were on the rise.

Our wonderful group of Kona Coffee & Tea employees and their families.

PHOTO: Ali Rowe

This year’s group numbered about a dozen of us, including our youngest, my daughter, Lilia (14 months).

One of our owners and my mom, Jan Bolton, with my daughter Lilia.PHOTO: Ali Rowe

One of our owners and my mom, Jan Bolton, with my daughter Lilia.

PHOTO: Ali Rowe

We began the day with fresh brewed Kona Coffee & Tea, medium roast coffee from the farm and my favorite donut holes from our local grocery store, KTA. After I welcomed everyone and introduced each person, I said a blessing then we headed to a portion of the farm that had the most trees ripe for the picking.

Our farm manager Arturo demonstrating the best picking technique.PHOTO: Ali Rowe

Our farm manager Arturo demonstrating the best picking technique.

PHOTO: Ali Rowe

Arturo, our farm manager, had the coffee baskets neatly lined up 6-feet apart, each one with a brand new picking bag. He explained the best technique to pick coffee cherries and showed us how to get those hard-to-reach cherries with the picking stick, which is a branch with a rope tied to the end. Arturo hooked the tree in front of him and pulled the coffee branch down with the picking stick and stepped on the rope to keep the branch in place. “We only want to pick the deep, red, plump cherry,” Arturo said.

Knowing that we wouldn’t pick hundreds of pounds of cherry like our experienced pickers can on a typical day of picking, Arturo decided we would take what we picked and do a small batch, natural process. This process is typically seen in other countries like Ethiopia and many countries in Central and South America. Instead of removing the coffee skin, the cherry skin remains on the coffee seed throughout the drying process. The process changes the flavor profile imparting an enhanced fruitiness and sweet fragrant to the beans. We divided the group into teams and competed to see which team would pick the most coffee. Arturo also judged each team based on the quality of the cherries they picked. I was on the 3 Amigas team with one of my best friends, Lisa, and sister-in-law, Zulay. I set the timer for one hour and off we went into the coffee trees.

As I picked, I focused on the heavy loaded ripe trees. The sun was blazing directly over us, and I was wishing I didn’t wear all black. But time flew by as I started filling the bottom of my basket. Before I knew it, the timer was going off and it we were ready to declare the winners. Below are the results for most cherries picked by weight and best quality cherries.

The coffee picked will be dried using a natural process. PHOTO: Ali Rowe


  • By weight:

1st: 3 Amigas (Zulay, Lisa, and Malia)

2nd: The Eagles (Sam, Anthony, Francesa, and Lilian)

3rd: The Jessers (Danny and Chenoa)


  • By Quality (inspected by Arturo):

1st: 3 Musketeers (Joel, West, and Zadie)

2nd: 3 Amigas  (Zulay, Lisa, and Malia)

3rd: The Eagles (Sam, Anthony, Francesa, and Lilian)


As this year has kept many of us indoors and solitary, it was such a joy being in nature, enjoying the beauty of Kona together. and picking coffee with our Kona Coffee & Tea ohana.

Along with getting to share the fruits of our labor, this event was a great reminder of all the hands and hearts that go into making a cup of 100% Kona coffee. We are so blessed to do what we do!

All photos above were taken by Ali Rowe.

You’re invited to join our First Harvest next year!
This event always takes place in late summer. Subscribe to our email list to stay informed about upcoming events at the farm and café.

BLOG2020 first harvest_alirowe-105.jpg


HOW I LIKE MY COFFEE: 100% Kona Americano
FAVORITE SPORT:  Ironically, it’s snowboarding, because I have to travel out of Hawaii, unless I get over my altitude sickness and go to Mauna Kea. My favorite slopes are Tahoe and Whistler.

I was born and raised here in Kona. I guess you could say that the coffee trees and I grew up together on my family’s Waiono Meadows farm. While in high school, I helped plant our first coffee. I came home from college during summers to work as a barista at our first café. I now manage our Farm to Cup operation here in Kona. I feel honored to play a role in cultivating a community around Kona coffee.



Older Post
Newer Post

Shopping Cart

100% Kona Coffee - Sharing Aloha - From our Farm to your Cup