Aside from visiting farmers' markets, we had another foodie goal in mind when we went to Hawaii. Well, maybe this could be called a "drinkie" goal. You see, we were in search of the perfect Kona coffee. Having tasted Kona coffee in the sun-spattered morning kitchen of my in-laws some time ago, I knew what dark depths of delight could be found on this green and verdant island.
It's sort of hard to have a piece on Hawaii without indulging in hibiscus or plumeria porn.
After reading our guidebooks and consulting with friends and family, we were familiar with names like Bong Brothers and Holualoa Kona before we even got there, but that didn't stop us from pit-stopping at places like K'au Organic Fruit and Espresso Stand on Highway 11. While in the midst of a long drive from Volcanoes National Park to the southernmost tip of the United States to our final destination of Mauna Lani, we felt the need of caffeinated refreshment. Plus, at this point I was still hoping to run down some mangosteens and sort of insisted in examing every fruit stand that juiced across our path.
Of course the San Franciscans in us thrilled to see this sign prominently displayed
K'au enticed us with espresso and fruit but entranced us with jazz, low-slung hammocks, and mac nuts under the minimal shelter of a picturesque wooden lean-to. Let's face it, even when it rains in Hawaii, you never need much shelter. In fact, it's much nicer to have your newly burnished skin perfumed with warm tropical rains than to huddle. Standing at the cool granite-topped bar, we sipped paper cups of espresso and cracked mac nuts with this hardy device while we talked to the farmer about his jazz-oriented visits to the Bay Area.
Of course, while we reveled in the Hawaiian rains during our visit, Barney Frazier told us how recent heavier rains had all but wiped out his citrus crop. He had a few limes knocking about but not much else. Remembering the dangerous heavy rains that pelted the Bay Area last spring, I nodded in understanding.
Seems to me that living in Hawaii is all the therapy you'd need.
Right behind the little espresso lean-to is about ten acres of Barney's certified organic land. On this emerald patch, Barney and his wife, Elizabeth -- both San Francisco imports to Hawaii -- put out a large variety of citrus, apple bananas, coffee beans, home-roasted mac nuts, and honey. As various painted wooden signs around the area proved, Frazier and his wife cultivate a delicious sense of humor as well.
I'm sure you can guess this, but 'okole' means 'butt' in Hawaiian pidgin.
While we enjoyed hanging out and filling our tank with K'au's eye-popping espresso, we weren't quite done window sipping and had miles to go before we didn't sleep.