The Life of a Coffee Farmer’s Wife

by Deepa Alman

Farmer’s wife Deepa Alban.

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.

Joe Alban with his patented trellis grown Kona coffee.

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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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.