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Kona Coffee Shortage

Where's the Kona?

Kona is in short supply and the primary reason is due to the Coffee Berry Borer, a sesame seed-sized insect that has devastated this year's crop. On top of that, some of the big players have bought up significant amounts of the crop (think Starbucks, and we recently have heard that Nestle contracted for large amounts). These factors have left us smaller roasters out in the cold, along with you, our customers.

The coffee berry borer was discovered in Kona in September 2010. It is thought that the recent drought may have weakened the coffee trees making them more susceptible. It is not known how the insect got to Hawaii in the first place. Most other coffee regions have this pest, and have developed various methods for getting rid of it. The primary methods in Hawaii involve using a naturally-occurring fungus to combat the pest, plus coffee berry borer traps and ensuring that all berries are picked and removed from the ground.

This pest wreaks havoc by boring into the coffee cherry and laying its eggs. The larvae hatch and eat the coffee bean, and though they do not eat the whole thing, the bean is of much lower quality. In Hawaii's Kona district as much as 90% of some coffee plantations have been damaged. It is estimated that over 50% of coffee trees are infested. Kona farmers have petitioned the State of Hawaii for assistance in combating this pest. They will need all the help they can get.

This is bad news for Kona coffee lovers, but the coffee berry borer is found and has been controlled in coffee plantations throughout the world. We hope that the farmers of Hawaii's Kona district soon get the insect in hand.

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