The Life of a Coffee Farmer’s Wife
by Deepa Alman
For seven years, I was happily married to Joe Alban, an orthopedic surgeon, when one day in 1994, I found myself owning a Kona coffee farm with him. I knew he had been dreaming of owning a coffee farm in the Kona district, but little did I know how it would completely change my life.
Life before the farm had been a leisure; living in a beach house, waking up whenever, painting as a self taught local Hawaiian artist, and traveling around the world. I guess I never paid attention whether it was a Tuesday or a Friday. Then, over-night, here at our 20-acre farm where the world's first trellis coffee is produced, suddenly every day became a Monday!
So there went my late morning beauty sleep. Previously, my husband would awaken at 3 AM to answer calls from the local emergency rooms. Now I awaken at 3 AM to answer calls from east coast buyers who think, if it's 9 AM in New York it must be 9 AM at the other end of my telephone. My everyday clothing changed from high heels and designer gowns, to denim jeans, t-shirts and mis-matched socks. My exercise regimen has also taken a different path. I was envious of mainland wives with personal fitness trainers, so I found my own farmers brand personal-trainer; four legged trainers, Peaberry, our adorable miniature donkey and Mila, Tiare and Ikaika, our canine pets. 24 hr fitness is no longer a club, now it's just another of my daily duties, chasing our dear pets around the farm.
Being in charge of sales, marketing, and overall administration, my day starts with a million things to do; following up on orders, communicating with stores, working with our twelve employees, and constantly putting out fires. Most of the time I feel like a truck ran over me at least once before the end of the day. Then the next morning, while enjoying breakfast on the lanai I see our beautiful coffee trees on a gentle slope over-looking the painted Kona Coast, turning toward my husband I see the twinkle in his eye and the tiredness somehow melts away.
Amidst all the challenges of owning a business, producing one of the world's most precious agricultural commodities, the rewards are great. I simply can't put a monetary value on the experiences and friendship I continue to cultivate with the people I meet. From the friends who also find themselves in this predicament, to the thousands who have come to love Kona Coffee, life is short but the coffee is Oh so wonderful.
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