Rise and Grind at O’o Farm
On the misty northwest slope of Haleakala, in the Upcountry farming community of Kula, lies O‘o Farm’s eight acres of sustainably maintained and naturally cultivated land. Owners Louis Coulombe and Stephan Bel-Robert, surfing buddies turned successful restaurateurs, started the farm in 2000 to supply quality local produce for their restaurants, and deliver a true farm-to-table experience. The two partners own Pacific’O Restaurant, Feast at Lele, and two ‘Aina Gourmet Markets, all located on Maui’s west side.
A decade ago, Louis’ passion for coffee compelled him to attend a school in Portland
operated by Sherri Johns, head judge of the Alliance of Coffee Excellence’s annual competition, who is considered a coffee guru. Armed with a wealth of knowledge,
Louis returned to Maui determined to create a farm-to-table experience with coffee.
In 2008, partners dispatched O’o Farm’s manager to the neighboring island of Moloka‘i to purchase 1,000 coffee trees. It was a great deal since the trees were a bit past their prime, but they had only a forty percent success rate with them. Their first challenge was weed mitigation. Once that was under control, the trees began to shrivel and die from sun exposure. The solution was to plant artichokes, which grew quickly, and provided desperately needed shade, and begin a seedling operation to produce healthy young coffee trees with good root stock. By 2014, both of the farm’s hillsides were filled with coffee trees. That same year, they also completed construction of an on-site coffee roastery, and launched a coffee tour.
In 2015, O‘o Farm’s coffee production had progressed far enough to enter the Hawai‘i Coffee Association’s Annual Statewide Cupping Competition. Although their coffee didn’t place, it was gratifying to have produced enough “good” coffee to actually enter. But what a difference a year can make. In the 2016 Cupping Competition, O‘o Farm Coffee placed third in Maui County, and tenth in the entire state!
All of O’o Farm’s coffee “cherries” are hand picked, and go through a multi-step of depulping, drying, milling and roasting process. O’o Farm’s ‘Aina Gourmet Coffee comes in four varieties: Red Catuai, Yellow Caturra, Mokka, and Typica. It’s available for purchase at their restaurants and markets, plus online. O‘o Farm’s Estate Coffee is a specialty blend of primarily Red Catuai, with hints of Yellow Caturra, Red Bourbon, Typica, and Maragogipe, also knows as “elephant bean.” It’s currently available for purchase only at the farm.
What makes O‘o Farm’s Coffees unique is the roasting process. They really take an artisan approach, using sight, smell, and a clock. The details of every roast are documented on a large chalkboard. Every cup of coffee served at their restaurants and markets, as well as on their tours, has been roasted at O’o Farm.
O‘o Farm offers its breakfast and coffee tour Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 11:30am. The tour includes a gourmet breakfast prepared on site by farm chef Daniel Eskelsen. Reservations are required: (808) 667-4341. For more info: www.oofarm.com.