Saturday, November 9, 2013

Jim's Hobby

How do you like your coffee?  Black? Dark Roast? Flavored? Espresso? Cheap?  I have just learned how much effort goes into producing a pound of coffee and I will never ever complain again about the cost of my favorite brew. (Well, I still think Starbucks is a little on the expensive side.)

This is Jim's hobby and it consumes a big part of his spare time, between building houses and taking care of sister, Mary.

Coffee grows on large bushes and starts out as these very pretty berries...

...that have to be hand-picked, one berry at a time.  Red and yellow berries are okay, green are not and must be left on the bush.  The berries do not all ripen at once, but continuously over several months, and pickings take place every 5 to 7 days.

The berries are left in buckets and covered with water.  The buckets sit for 3 or 4 days to ferment.  The smell is akin to very rotten fruit and the different colors above indicate the number of days the berries have been sitting.

On the third or fourth day Jim pours the rotten berries into the above hopper that separates the nasty coverings from the inner seeds. Phew!

That outside rotten shell goes right into the compost bins and produces some of the best soil for growing papayas, butter beans and more coffee plants.

The inner seed is still covered with a paper-like shell.  The beans are spread out in trays to dry then are put through a second machine to remove that paper coating.

 Jim does not do the roasting but enlists his friend, Shark, to complete the process.


Marianna, (of the blog, "Hattie's Web"), joined us for a tour of Shark's operation. Marianna and I enjoyed a lot of time together, it was so fun to get to know her better.  

Shark raises chocolaté (oh, be still my heart), along with coffee, and sells both in his little coffee shop in downtown Hilo.

He also raises vanilla beans...of course.
  Chocolate is almost as involved a process as coffee.

  So, did I think they just picked Ghiardelli's candy bars from trees?

Apparently they don't. 

Shark clearly loves what he does and he very enthusiastically described the process to us. 

He also roasts coffee for other small growers on the Island.

The process of removing the paper shell, and...

....the roasting went quickly and Jim walked away with several pounds of coffee for all his efforts over the previous week.  I don't think he will be able to retire on the proceeds from this hobby.  But the smell of the final product may be worth all the effort.

We stopped at Shark's Shop to test his product. (Too bad, I never learned the origin of the name, Shark.)


And when we got home Jim presented Aunt Louise and myself with some of his signature blend. (Bertrum is Jim's alter-ego who shows up in unexpected places around the globe)

Bertrum's motto...

"Drink Coffee!  You can sleep when you're dead."


  1. I had no idea it was this much effort to make coffee. I thought they picked the beans and then roasted them. Now I know, and thanks for the post.

  2. Well, it is an effort, but it all happens over many days and months.
    That was such a fun day! Mary is continuing to mend and does not let a little thing like a broken leg slow her down.
    May I use the photo of me that you took on my blog?
    Thinking about you and Aunt Louise.

    1. Absolutely use the photo, and any other you might want. I agree, it was a fun day.

  3. Gosh, I love coffee! Wishing I could try some at Shark's! ~Andrea

    1. How about a cup of Jim's coffee in a few days? See you soon.