A Coffee Adventure

After 22 years of visiting Maui, we discovered there was more to this island than beaches and mai tai’s.

In August 2004, we purchased a 2 acre parcel with a home in the old agriculture district that once belonged to Maui Land and Pineapple. Behind us was the historic Launiupoko Gulch where we discovered old coffee trees, Kanaka Kope, that were overgrown and laden with fruit. We soon began picking the cherries, hand pulping, drying, milling and dabbling in some of the roasting, thus the adventure began.

In 2006 we started to develop our acreage by terracing our hillside, plotting tree spacing and installing irrigation for the nitrogen fixing cover crops to build nutrients in the soil for organic purpose. That year we also began a coffee seedling nursery from gulch transplants and experimented with stumping and replanting of established trees.

So far since 2008 we have planted about half of our tree capacity with Kanaka Kope coffee. Shade inga has been planted for windbreak along with Koai'a (Endemic Koa Tree) and Pigeon Pea with two more terraces irrigated for more cover crops. Plans to expand the farm in 2009 are in progress with a barn building on site to house existing processing equipment and posting operation to “round out our cup.”

Susy Stille picking Kanaka Kope up Launiupoko Gulch.

Our goal at Piliani Kope is to encourage others within this Launiupoko District to plant coffee as part of their active agriculture plan. Secondly, we want to educate our visitors about the undiscovered side of Maui’s sustainable farming and its necessary part in the island’s culture and livelihood.

World-renowned coffee expert, Jean Nicolas Wintgens (left) and Greg Stille examine the root system of a transplanted coffee tree.