Although born in the city, Nature has always bewitched me. From the desert to the Jungle, from mountainous backdrops to interminable flats, from summits to valleys Nature speaks its own language. Most of the time its voice remains undecipherable to Man, or at best indistinct. Regardless of its essence or its elements, there is a conflicting mystery, and yet a sense of familiarity in its depth that is both daunting and alluring at the same time. In today’s world of ceaseless connectivity and illusory safety, such paradoxical sensation limits us to observe it from an innocuous place, be it a high-definition screen, the pages of a magazine, a scenic point, or a manicured trail. Nature doesn’t respond readily to our demands by the click of a button, pleading through customer support or threats of legal action. Nature commands and demands our unequivocal submission.
History has shown two ways of dealing with this inexorable reality: fight it constantly or attune to it, learn its language. For the serene-hearted the challenge is to adapt to its unruly character. For the anxious soul the challenge is to slow enough to unravel its secret. As with most people, I experienced both at times. However, it has always been my restless spirit that sought out to decode the nature of Nature. My demanding character has always clashed with its undisturbed composure. It has only been in those occasions when I allowed myself to relent my cravings and aversions that I was able to harmonize with it; when I experienced and learned the most.
Maybe this was the reason why after working as an engineer for eight years, I sought out the provoking capriciousness of Nature. There’s no lesson in conformity, only illusory safetiness. I gave up the profession and went backpacking around the world for three years. Impossible to relate the innumerable experiences and lessons, the good, the bad and the inexplicable. Every place I visited had its agreeable and disagreeable, its beauty and ugliness, its lesson and its conclusion. One thing was obvious, a change had taken place. Curiosity has its consequences. The world had become extremely small, and with it the options of a place and lifestyle to adopt. Enter Hawaii.
Hawaii has always been described as a paradisiacal land. Nothing further from the truth. Paradise is repetitive. Constant sunshine and even temperatures don’t reveal much. Hawaii, in particular the Big Island of Hawaii, offered a lot more to me than repose. I found in it the convergence of many worlds I had visited during those three years. Its remoteness was the first thing. The surrounding Pacific Ocean acts as the biggest moat. It protects the island from the overstimulation and anxiety-saturated atmosphere of the Continent. Moreover, even as a small speck on the map, the raw presence of Nature is overwhelming here. So much so that most people intending to live here end up packing up and going away.
To begin with, and in particular on the southeast part of the island, we walk, eat and sleep on top of a the largest hot spot on earth. A few hundred feet underneath us, the ground is liquified, glowing and churning. Lava is what builds and destroys the land. It defines the landscape. Above our heads, rain never gives a respite. Biblical-proportion rains stretch out for weeks at times. A perpetual dampness crawls in every nook and cranny. It becomes more challenging to keep mold at bay, than the friendly geckos from the fruit tray. Add the diversity of its climate and geography and you soon realize why this place is shrouded in mystery and awe.
Nevertheless and as far as the rawness of Nature defines this land, there’s something even more ineffable about this place. Even to the most skeptical engineer, it is hard to escape the presence of another “force”. I have always tried to find a pragmatic explanation to exaggerated claims and cryptic conjectures, but so far I have failed to put my finger on it here. The Hawaiians call it Mana, or life force: that which impregnates everything and brings it to existence. There’s no doubt that the original Polynesian settlers to the island perceived such force. It certainly tinkers with your thoughts and emotions. In the old ways, Hawaiians submitted themselves to it. They communed with it and respected it solemnly. Their whole system of “Kapu” revolved around the delicate balance between life and death. Being so far from everything, it forced them to care, respect and protect the land.
This confluence of mind, matter and spirit is what brought me here and anchored me to this mystifying world. I knew right away I didn’t want to return to the corporate world, or even to a rigid work routine. I knew intuitively that I had to immerse myself in this land, coexist with its four elements. After two years of exploring every corner of the island, I found the right place to begin this journey. The history of coffee on the island sealed the deal. The resemblance of this area to the Latin America I was born in and the coffee fields I have seen from Brazil, through Colombia and Central America brought back a sense of familiarity and affinity I have found in very few places.
Coffee has always fascinated me. It is one of the few concoctions in the world that transcends nationalities, credences and social classes. During my travels in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the Americas its aroma and taste always brought people together. It was one of the first foods to become globalized. A fascinating aspect of coffee is its ability to bring about both calmness and elation. We seek serenity and solitude in its warmth, just as we exact its power to kickstart our day. It is this dual essence of coffee that propelled me to cultivate it. My continuous struggle to balance quietude and fervor echoed in such qualities of coffee.
I strive to imbue my coffee with all these elements I have personally experienced. My travels, my relationship with Nature, my continuous pursuit of an organic and balanced lifestyle, my appreciation for the Hawaiian culture and the land and my relationship with my fellow humans are all encompassed in my approach to producing it. I hope that every raindrop of life (ka paka ua o ke ola) that took to grow this coffee allows you to recognize not only its marvelous aromas and flavors, but also the experiences behind it.
I extend this cup to you, may you enjoy it in its fullness!
Mahalo Nui Loa.
Matias Lopez Vega, Haku ‘Āina