Updated: Jul 21, 2021
When soul meets soil on a small coffee farm in Kona, Hawaii.
The thing that makes Gesha coffee even more irresistible than its distinctive and unprecedented flavor is the careful forethought and tenacity it takes for someone to produce it successfully.
Originating from the Gori Gesha Forest in Ethiopia, this elusive and highly sought-after coffee variety didn't actually gain its fame until many years after the start of its incremental migration. But, considering the soaring altitude and marginal temperature limitations it requires to flourish, its belated recognition was no fault of its own.
Now, globally cherished and known as one of the most expensive coffees in the world, Gesha has finally made its way to the equally exclusive, equatorial elevations of Hualalai in Kona, Hawaii. Here, 200 years of coffee farming reign supreme with tremendous integrity. So what happens when one of the world's rarest, most coveted coffee varieties takes root in one of the world's smallest, most renowned coffee-growing regions?
Despite Kona's impeccable climate and prestigious reputation for coffee farming, arabica varieties outside that of 'Kona typica' are only recently starting to break the mold of tradition on these historic volcanic slopes. Needless to say, the excellence of new coffee varieties in Kona is a widely unexplored potential. Now, thanks to a new wave of small, independent farms like Ulu, the world will soon experience coffee's rarest delicacy.
Let the vibe cleanse commence
Hualalai's golden hour approached as the sun began to set. It was the eve of Ulu Coffee's fourth and final planting, and energy whirled throughout the estate. The air pulsed with the sound of a full and festive household as Memorial Day weekend kicked off a special time for Ulu. Family and friends, old and new, clustered in the kitchen with laughter and banter, anticipating what sizzled on the stove. And when the time came to gather around for dinner, a traditional Hawaiian blessing would allow for the weekend's ultimate festivity to commence.
Like many Hawaiian words, 'Ulu' has many meanings. However, the concept of Ulu’s small family farm centers around its definition of divine inspiration--what co-founder Jordan Warners describes as "Something that's always with you; a part of you, but separate from you. It's this thing, this sort of energy that encourages you to pursue something, to befriend someone, to better yourself. It's the incredible gift of an idea."
Ultimately, 'Ulu' is how the farm came to be. It's what transpired the day that founder Phil Hodson decided to plant 1,700 coffee trees on his family's five and a half acre estate. Once a rolling pasture lined with Macadamia and Mango trees, the family heirloom transformed over the last three years into the charming Kona coffee farm that it is today. But the tedious research and strategic planning that Phil and Jordan pledged to the project could never have been as successful without one essential aspect—Community.
Ultimately, 'Ulu' is how the farm came to be. It's what transpired the day that founder Phil Hodson decided to plant 1,700 coffee trees on his family's five and a half acre estate. Once a rolling pasture lined with Macadamia and Mango trees, the family heirloom transformed over the last three years into the charming Kona coffee farm that it is today. But the tedious research and strategic planning that Phil and Jordan pledged to the project could never have been as successful without one essential element—Community.
Phil will be the first to tell you that four or five years ago, he didn't know a thing about coffee farming. But Kona is a prideful and resilient heritage. The community is gracious and integral when it comes to passing down their ancestral knowledge. And the long-timers will tell you exactly what you need to succeed because, at the end of the day, when one farmer prevails in Kona, they all do. Even when it came to Ulu Coffee's compost development, the neighborly demeanor was absolutely no different.
Because of this, the final planting at Ulu Coffee farm was able to come full circle with a soulful kind of soil. Thanks to the advice of Kona's legendary farmer Wayne Duarte, Phil was able to cultivate a compost specifically for that special day. Enriched with the soul of the Farm's ultimate matriarch, Phil was sure to sprinkle his mother's favorite flower into the fertilizing nutrient, allowing the presence of her spirit to shine through every budding harvest.
With the Keiki trees nestled in on their contoured lot, the guys will continue cultivating Ulu. Three years from now will reveal the anticipated result of Ulu Coffee's single estate Kona Gesha. And what comes in the meantime is a culmination of traditional and experimental coffee processing while continuing to share the spirit of Aloha through their exceptional signature roast.
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Mahalo nui loa!