Passion for Coffee
by Amy Hoff
Trent, Lisa and Brooke
Bateman and the farm goose invite you to visit them
at Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation which features
100% Kona organic coffee.
Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation is, in a word, magical.
In a fairyland of ohia and jungle vines, it is a ghostly
oasis in the mist. Ohia branches become visible through
the mist like the fingers of forgotten gods. The haunting
atmosphere is relieved by the explosion of colors around
you. It is a peaceful and welcoming place.
Trent Bateman, the man behind Mountain Thunder, is
an engineer. He left the machine repair business when
he realized that he would be able to use his expertise
for the machinery involved in coffee making. Coffee
was an active, busy industry with a tourism overlap,
which Mr. Bateman found appealing. Lisa, his wife, did
not like the stifling bookkeeping work while they were
operating the repair business, and looked forward to
the move to coffee, where she felt there was more room
Mountain Thunder is a unique plantation for several
reasons. First, because it is a family-run farm, and
the largest organic coffee farm in the United States.
Mr. Bateman’s engineering background ensures the peak
performance of the machines, and Mountain Thunder has
state-of-the-art equipment and roasting technology.
They also use Chinese geese, St Croix sheep, and a new
addition - Kona Nightingale donkeys- to provide manure
as well as weed control. They are also friendly to other
farmers seeking advice or help; they believe the more
organic production, the better.
New products include coffee soap, which helps to prevent
skin cancer, acne and cellulite as well as promoting
cell renewal, and Coffee Flower honey.
The Batemans think there has been an increased interest
in organic foods. Organic coffee has twice the antioxidants
and provides for a smoother drink. Coffee has more antioxidants
than tea, and helps caner of the colon, prostate, and
mouth. There are more organic farmers now than when
the Batemans started their farm, and there has been
a 10% growth in organic consumables every year. The
Batemans own 35 organic acres in all, in additon to
100 acres of regular Kona coffee. Because of this, the
organic farms benefit from the more expensive factories
that are affordable because of their other farms. Mountain
Thunder also buys a lot of coffee locally; they nurtured
12 other organic coffee farms that grow the product
for them as well.
Mountain Thunder has been featured in several television
shows and magazines. They were featured on the recent
Discovery Channel program “Dirty Jobs”, the Food Network’s
“Unwrapped”, and “Big Eye Hawai’i”.
Mountain Thunder is also the Official Gevalia Cupping
Contest master mill and roastery (the Kona Cultural
Festival Cupping Contest). Trent Bateman is the Event
Director, Lisa is the Milling Coordinator, and their
daughter, Brooke, is the Roasting Coordinator.
Mountain Thunder has won several awards with Brooke
as roastmaster. They have never entered a contest they
did not win. They won the Spring Blossom contest, which
later changed its name to Cream of the Crop, three years
running. They won a variety of awards, from gold to
silver medals in different categories, both people’s
choice and chef ’s choice. Brooke also supervises the
plantation’s coffee bar.
Take Palani Road or Hina
Lani Road from highway 99 and drive 4 miles up the
mountain. Take a right turn on Koloko Drive and
then a right on the third Hao Street. If you happen
to turn on the first or second Hao Street just follow
it to the end. For more information on coffee plantation
tours call 808-325-2136.
Mountain Thunder is offering tours. Currently, the
tour begins with a short video from the Food Channel,
coffee samples, and a walk around the plantation. On
tours, you will be able to visit all the animals at
Mountain Thunder and learn the process of making coffee
from seed to cup. Visitors will be able to experience
pulping through fermentation, husking, and grading as
well as roasting. With an appointment you can be roastmaster
for a day as the Batemans teach you how to roast your
own coffee. Mountain Thunder is #1 on the tour map for
Kona’s Historic Coffee Corridor, which is available
in several magazines. For a tour, just show up anytime
Monday-Friday from 9-5, and weekends by appointment.
There are lunches available for private tours if you
call ahead. There is no cost for a tour of Mountain
As the sun set red behind the mist, I followed Lisa
down to watch her feed the geese. They ran to her, flapping
their wings and honking. When I left, she gave me a
hug and said it was wonderful to meet me. The Batemans
truly love their work and are full of smiles for any
visitor who comes through the front gates. Visiting
Mountain Thunder was a wonderful experience, and I would
do it again, just to see people living their passion.
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appeared originally in Coffee Times print magazine and
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