As you travel southwest from Keaau to Glenwood, the Volcano Highway bisects the upper Puna region into the Makai (facing the ocean) and Mauka (facing the interior) areas. The first one is characterized by more recent lava flows dating as close as 200 years ago. These eruptions came primarily from Kilauea: presently the most active volcano in the world. The higher mauka area is shaped by the older flows from Mauna Loa, the largest shield volcano on the planet. These flows tend to be older by at least a couple of centuries. Whereas the makai areas are known for shallow terrains as thin as six inches in depth, the mauka farms can sit on fields as deep as three feet.
Kapakauaokeola Farm is located two miles up from the Volcano Highway on the Mauka side of the District. From it, you can observe both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes. At the height of the sugar empire, these fields were abounding with cane. Its rich red soils provided the necessary nutrients to this voracious grass-related plant. After the demise of the Sugar Industry, the farm became pastureland for the small local cattle industry. The land lied fallow for three decades, allowing it to replenish itself with the help of its free-range residents.
Cows and wild-growing sugarcane have now given place to its old and faithful tenant: coffee. There is no doubt when trying coffee from this particular area that the eclectic past of the land is reflected in its flavor. There is something enigmatic about this place on the island, be it its microclimate, its location, its colors and forms or its peoples and customs. Coffee seems to belong here. It’s palpable; it’s visible: a harmonious and natural dance between the rolling landscape and the sensuous rows of coffee trees. Their communion results in a concoction made and meant for paradise.