During my trip to the Big Island, we drove to Mountain Thunder Coffee which is the island’s largest organic farm and the highest grown coffee in the world at 3,200 feet elevation. The owner bought 20 acres 20 years ago with no intention of getting into the business but now he is highly successful and is also growing tea and vanilla. His coffee won a prestigious award – “best coffee in America” – last year that made the whole island proud. He says the Kona weather is what makes the coffee so good. They still handpick the beans where he pays the pickers 50 cents a pound. The plantation is 10-15 minutes away from the Courtyard hotel and he charges $65 for the VIP tour and nothing for just a standard tour. We learned he grows 500,000 pounds of green beans a year but his costs are now huge. What used to cost $10 a pound is now $16. He says coffee lasts about a month.
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