Grafted Kona Coffee Wins Big for Heavenly Hawaiian Farms

by Les Drent

Kraig Lee, Co-Owner of Heavenly Hawaiian Farm’s “The Other Farm” meticulously splices and connects the Liberican and Typica to create grafted Kona Coffee nursery stock. photo credit: Les Drent

No one believed it was possible. No one had seen it done. But family farm owners Kraig and Sheryl Lee and Rae and Sandy Young proved that grafted coffee was the best Kona coffee in the prestigious Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Cupping Competition in 2000. Heavenly Hawaiian Farms' newest orchard, "The Other Farm," became the first and only grafted 100% Kona coffee to stand the test of international coffee connoisseurs.

Grafting coffee proved to be a delicate process, having to carefully splice two different varieties of sapling coffee trees and then bind them together so they continue to grow as one plant. Lee demonstrates a steady hand for grafting his choice of rootstock, the stronger, more aggressive Liberican variety of coffee plant, to the Guatemalan or Typica plant branded as Kona coffee, which produces the choice gourmet cherries. This cupping competition win proved that the Liberican enhances the rich Kona coffee flavor, making grafted coffee viable agricultural product. Akin to a wine tasting, a cupping competition utilizes judges from around the world to distinguish the best of the best in 100% Kona coffee, only considering coffee grown in Kona's fertile, volcanic soil on Hawaii's Big Island. Heavenly Hawaiian Farms and "The Other Farm" join a tradition of excellence as rich and flavorful as the people who have produced this unique coffee heritage and signature brand of gourmet coffee enjoyed worldwide. Each year the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival invites everyone to celebrate in this tradition, enjoying the honor as the only coffee festival in the United States. The next annual Kona Coffee Cupping Contest is scheduled for November 7-8, 2001.

Lee credits Marc Meisner, Research Technician and Farm Foreman from the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources' Kona Experiment Station; and Doctoral Candidate Mario Serracin, with UH Manoa's Nematology Department for his grafting success. Lee also recognizes Dr. Donald Schmitt, Head of the Nematology Department, for research in grafting coffee plants.

100% Kona coffee from Heavenly Hawaiian Farms and The Other Farm can be purchased through its web site at For more information contact Sandy Young at (808) 322-7720.

Root-Knot Nematode Research Scores Major Victory for Farmers

As written in the Fall/Winter 2000- 2001 issue of Coffee Times attempts were being made by researchers at the University of Hawaii to find a solution to the root-knot nematode crisis that has plagued some coffee farms in Kona. One possible antidote to this problem involves grafting traditional Kona coffee seedlings onto the rootstock of an African variety of coffee that has proven resistant to this root-knot nematode. While many were justifiably skeptical about the final taste in the cup a shocking result to this research came in the 2001 Kona Coffee Cupping Contest. One of these first grafted strains developed by a farmer in Kona won a top award at the annual cupping competition. While research does continue this is very good news for farmers in Kona who have seen their orchards damaged even killed by this deadly nematode.
The aggressive studies done by these UH researchers is helping to maintain a healthy future for Kona coffee growers.

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