We love coffee, and as most coffee lovers know, Kona is world-famous for their coffee. Several coffee plantations offer tours, but we went with Mountain Thunder Coffee because they offered a tour that allowed us to roast our own coffee. Not only do they offer these unique experiences, but they also keep winning all kinds of awards for having the best Kona coffee!
They offered a variety of tours, and through a few happy accidents, we took them all!
Free coffee plantation tour
A small, free tour that will take you through the dry milling, sizing, gravity, color sorting, and packaging process. You also get free coffee tasting on the lanai.
The tour takes about 20 minutes to complete.
VIP Organic Kona Coffee Farm, Mill, and Roaster tour
Usually hosted by the owner’s son, we had the privilege of having Trent, the owner guide our semi-private tour.
This three-hour tour takes you through the entire process. We walked past ancient lava tubes and into the coffee orchid. We got to hear stories about accidentally discovering new lava tubes and the challenges of growing coffee beans at such a high elevation.
We left the farming portion of the property and on to the wet mill to learn how they pulp, ferment, and dry the coffee in preparation for the sorting.
From there we moved on to the sorting process (which is similar to the free tour) and then a much more in-depth conversation about the roasting process. He talked about the differences between dark and light roasting, listening for the crack when the bean releases the oils, and why light roast coffee is just better! We enjoyed the hands-on experience and amount of personal, historical, and technical information Trent shared with us throughout the tour.
Roast Master Experience
Filled with our newly gained knowledge, what’s left but to roast our own coffee! This tour covers the same areas as the free tour, but also includes the opportunity to roast our own 100% Kona coffee. Trent shared a lot of information about the various stages of roasting, the flavor goals of each stage, and what to watch and listen for during the roasting process. With our new knowledge in hand and a bucket filled with green Kona beans, we got to roast our beans. Guests on the tour usually have the guidance of an award-winning roast master, but Trent took us through the process himself. With our warm, freshly roasted beans, we head over to the bagging room, where we bag 5 pounds of newly roasted Kona coffee!
The adults all enjoyed this tour, but we were surprised how much our kids (ages 9, 12, 15) enjoyed it too. They still say this was one of the highlights of our entire Hawaiian vacation.
- At $199 for the group, the Roastry Deluxe Tour is the best value for your money. Not only do you get an overview of the entire process, the coffee roasting experience is awesome, and the 5 lbs of premium 100% Kona coffee you just roasted (usually $40-$50 a lbs.) you get to divide up and take home – for FREE
- If you’re short on time and money, do the free tour, try a few samples, and buy a pound from the gift shop.