gentle readers, after all this time you know i am a friend of coffee farmers, particularly american coffee farmers in kona. they have a very hard lot: possibly the only american agricultural community that doesn't enjoy lavish subsidies, they pay 1st world labor costs and expensive shipping to get their unique coffee to market.
800 largely family farmers struggle with the weather to produce and hand-pick good coffee in the face of very low-priced, often unethical competition, while at the same time united in their devotion to protect kona's fragile environment. it's tough.
since i've been organizing the meetups, i've met a lot of newbie coffee lovers who are shy about trying real kona coffee. usually the story's the same -- at some point they wandered into a store, saw an expensive bag with kona on it in screamingly large type, took it home, and were gravely disappointed.
only once they were left staring at the unimpressive mess in their cups did they scrutinize the small type, which invariably said "blend." blend of what and what? how much real, quality kona was in that bag, for which they paid a substantial sum?
they often were bummed out to learn that expensive bag had a mere 10% real kona in it. because that's how low the standard is for using the kona name on a coffee bag.
and that's the nub of the problem -- there isn't a strict enough law regulating these "kona" cheats. as a result, a lot of coffee drinkers who would otherwise love to support an american farmer are just afraid to buy real 100% kona coffee.
as i've said before, the 100% pure kona is a bargain, even at US$22 a pound. because my friends you have to remember that a pound of coffee makes 40 6-oz. cups; thus, you actually are only paying about US$0.55 a cup for an amazing and delicious experience.
the kona farmers know that these rip-off blends harm them and deceive consumers. they have been trying for years to combat the large corporate interests to pass a law in hawaii that would put teeth in the definition of a kona blend, and in how kona can be labelled.
and in this light, let me now pass along an email i received today courtesy of steve bookman, the mad technivorm freak, from a long-time bccy pal, cea smith of smith farms:
Thank you for being a friend of smithfarms. I am leaning on your kindness to ask you for this favor below and I would not do it if our chances weren't so good and also, the fact that numbers of names do matter to our Legislature.
We are asking you for your help in helping all the Kona Coffee farmers in Kona. We have a big chance to succeed and Bob and I are begging for your help and here's why......
As I wrote in to our newsgroup:
'Two great Legislators in our Hawaii State Legislature did indeed introduce 2 Bills asking that the amount of Kona in a Kona blend, be raised to 75% Kona coffee at least, to use the Kona name. We Kona Coffee farmers have fought for this such an introduction for 14 (!)years. A Bill in our House of Representatives and one in our Senate!
Now is the time to mobilize. You all care about coffee and we really need your help.
We Farmers have an electronic petition on line and I am blatantly begging that you take a second and go here and sign our petition.
Time Is Of The Essence as they may hear the bills this week! Yikes!!!
Numbers of names do(!) matter and every one of you who signs it, will be directly helping a farmer of Kona Coffee!
We have a huge nasty opposition of blenders who want to keep their investment low and keep the Blend at only 10% real Kona. (The other 90% is probably super junk.) Our opposition has paid lobbyists and many schmoozers who are doing their work.
We looked into a Lobbyist but he asked for $24,000 and we don't have it. The Kona Coffee Farmers is totally volunteer and certainly, non-profit! So we are grassroots, actually coffee shrubs, and ever so hopeful but time is of the essence!
Thanking each of you in advance, for taking the time to sign the Petition and for helping the Farmers.
If you would like further information about these bills, you are welcome to visit KonaCoffeeFarmers.org and click on the link "KCFA Legislative Programs/Blend Law Reform."
Thank you for your help. It is the power of the mighty (computer) pen at work. It really matters so much to all Kona Coffee Farmers!
Mahalo nui from very far away,
Cea & Bob"
and for those readers wondering: the best way to buy 100% real, high-quality kona is to buy it mail-order, direct from the farmers. bccy buddies like cea, and suzanne from lion's gate, and of course john langenstein all sell their own coffee at rates much more reasonable than stores.
with the miracle of express delivery, it can be shipped to you quickly and arrive fresh. if you like sunny, mild coffees, try a good real kona.
meet a coffee farmer and make your own day.