East Meets West

by Les Drent

Yours truly amidst the first organic coffee plantings at Blair Estate Coffee Farm in Kauai. After 15 months of growth a late winter flowering will bring coffee in the fall of 2003.

When I realize that the last 13 years of my life has been spent on an island in the Pacific far from the roots of my New England upbringing I suppose it’s only natural to look around and reflect on the past, present and future of this journey. Couple this with 10 years of running a coffee and publishing business here in Hawaii and I start to realize that my roots here in the islands have grown deep into my soul.

Nearly two years ago I made the decision to attach myself permanently to the aina (land) on the island of Kauai and pioneer a new frontier in coffee farming. The choice to settle in Kauai and raise organic coffee while running my Coffee Times 100% Kona coffee roasting business has complemented an already fantastic way of life.

Coffee production in Kona continues to soar to new heights and the hundreds of farms now existing there produce, hands down, the finest coffee known to man! Realizing this I felt it was time to explore a new opportunity and new taste in Hawaiian coffee.

Design work stopped on this day as two feet of fresh fell across Vermont. Les (left), David (center), and Kim (right) head for the trees in Stowe.

Meeting of the minds come together in Stowe as plans are drawn for the building project. Left to right: Jane, Abigail and Kim Brown (architect), Les Drent (owner of LBD Coffee), Ian Andersen and Scott Dorwart (master carpenter and lead builder).

Choosing the island of Kauai to seek out this dream was actually quite simple as some places and people in life just speak directly to your heart. The last place to have such an impact was a small village in northern Vermont called Stowe, a tiny but lively New England ski village where it seems everyone knows everyone else... and even the newcomers feel right at home. While I sometimes catch myself dreaming of returning to that place I know my heart is truly matched with Kauai and without this island my life simply wouldn’t be the same.

So rather than trying to keep the luring of this past in check I found it easier to surround myself with a part of New England here in Kauai by building a little bit of that world into the life I’m living now.

A computer assisted design rendering of the future visitor center at Blair Estate.

With the help of some talented and special friends this will all be possible as the summer of 2003 will be spent constructing a Yankee style post and beam barn on a coffee farm in Hawaii. Doubling as a residence this utilitarian structure will serve as destination point for coffee lovers throughout the world. The visitor center and retail shop will feature on sight coffee roasting, milling demonstrations, orchard tours and a full coffee bar where visitors will be able to taste not only organic coffee from the farm but 100% Kona and other island coffees as well.

With the help of family and friends this effort should culminate with a grand opening by Christmas. At that point the first planting of coffee trees will reach two years of age and the Fall of 2004 is expected to bring the first bountiful harvest at Blair Estate organic coffee farm. To stay up to date with the progress being made at the farm everyone is welcome to visit the farm’s web site at. I’ll do my best to keep the pictures rolling throughout the summer as the doors will soon be open for your next visit to Hawaii!

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Story appeared originally in Coffee Times print magazine and appears online for archival purposes only. Any use or reprinting of these stories without the expressed written consent of the author is prohibited.