Winter Newsletter 2008 – 2009
Blair Estate Organic Coffee is Now Shade Grown!
In 2006 we decided to aggressively counteract our reliance on imported fertilizer and high water dependance at our organic coffee farm. Because coffee is a natural shade grown tree, many commercial coffee farms in the world depend exclusively on the use of fertilizer, water and direct sunlight to produce high yielding coffee crops. While this heavy use of petroleum based fertilizer, and water coupled with direct sunlight definitely yields more coffee, it also strips the natural environment of key growing elements that are important to a balanced eco-system and healthy living environment. However, we have proven at Blair Estate that organically grown, slow ripening, hand picked coffee produces a far superior bean to those grown on non-organic farms.
While the gliricidia was added, we sadly removed the St. Croix Hair sheep from our coffee farm as their appetite became a hinderance to new coffee shoots trying to develop. Their selective grazing did remove alot of unwanted weeds, but we are hoping that the shade produced by the gliricidia will slow this unwanted growth. The sheep have found a happy home at an island ranch, and their population continues to grow since we first introduced this breed to Kauai in 2002.
Pruning the gliricidia for nitrogen rich mulch during the winter months should also open the coffee trees to much needed sunlight for bud production and Spring flowering. The hope is that the gliricidia trees will develop new branches and canopy by the Summer months when the coffee cherry needs to be shaded for slow fruit development.
It is always a work in progress when operating an organic coffee farm, and we hope that our effort will continue to yield the finest cup of coffee in the world and also help to sustain our natural environment.
We owe a lot of thanks again to the community of Marshall Islanders who harvest our coffee each year. They are doing another excellent job.
COFFEE TIMES The Continued Age of 100% Kona Coffee Excellence
Coffee Times is now in its 16th year of operation. Since the early days in Holualoa-Kona on the Big Island, we have been roasting these magical 100% Kona coffee beans for mail order sale. This business continues to be the backbone of our operation. We have formed many great friendships with loyal customers over the years, and this has brought a lot of pleasure to us.
I can remember starting the Kona coffee mail order business prior to the internet, and how I sold exclusively out of the Coffee Times visitor guide. And I can still remember accepting checks in exchange for coffee sent, as I had no means to acquire a merchant account in the early days. I still like to boast that not once did I fail to receive a payment for coffee sent out through the mail. That alone is testament to the great people that have supported and loved 100% Kona coffee over the years.
The visitor guide, Coffee Times, has been greatly simplified into an annual statewide publication so we have been able to spend more of our time focusing on the farms and coffee roasting business. The guide’s circulation at Hawaii’s airports has benefited us greatly, as it has introduced our products to over one hundred thousand visitors in 2008.
Locally on the island, international coffee sales have kept us busy on a weekly basis. The one day a week we dedicate to roasting for local coffee shops in Kauai has fit nicely into our operation, and it has been a pleasure helping these Kauai businesses with their need for bulk coffee and exotic blends. While we continue to purchase Fair Trade coffee, we have been exploring the idea of establishing our own non profit that would send a percentage of proceeds to designated aid projects in the third world countries where this coffee is grown. We have been interested for years in finding a more tangible way to contribute to those communities that support our coffee needs. We will continue to explore the concept, and perhaps begin a new venture in 2009.
A Helping Hand
LBD Coffee, LLC, which is the parent company of Blair Estate Coffee Farm, Coffee Times, and the Kauai Cigar Company received some very good news in October this year. We were awarded two separate Kauai Agricultural Development Program grants by the USDA sponsored Garden Island Resource, Conservation & Development group. These grants will fund 80% of the purchase of a new coffee mill imported from Colombia. This mill will not only speed up the processing of raw coffee cherry, but it will also ease the heavy physical labor involved with our current process. A second grant will also be instrumental in helping Kauai Cigar Company launch the Grand Alii cigar, as it will pay for 80% of the graphic design, box manufacturing, bands, and liners. We hope that the success of this eight thousand limited release Grown in Kauai, Made in Kauai cigar will become an annual event and will continue to fuel agricultural growth on our island. On behalf of all our employees I would like to thank the GIRCD for their support of our farming endeavors. To learn more about this group or to contribute please visit http://www.gircd.org.
Kauai Cigar - From an Original Blend to 100% Kauai Grown and Made!
Kauai Cigar Company is readying to announce the 2009 release of the Grand Alii, an exceptional 100% Kauai Grown and Made, limited-release cigar.
This exclusive cigar is made from the finest Habano leaves grown in Kauai, aged to perfection from the 2006 crop. The medium to full bodied Momona-sized cigar will be rolled in Hawaii, making it the first 100% Hawaiian grown and constructed cigar in over 150 years!
Since day one I had the vision of creating a 100% Kauai cigar. I’ve always been a strong proponent of selling origin-only coffee, and I maintain the same opinion for tobacco. It’s been both exciting and a major ground breaking move to create this cigar.
The Grand Alii will be rolled at Blair Estate Coffee Farm and also at The Wine Garden in Lihue, Hawaii. With only 8,000 of this limited edition cigar planned for production, the Grand Alii will not only be highly sought after, but only available direct from Kauai Cigar Company. The dates of production will be announced at http://kauaicigar.com. Please visit the web site for the most current information on the Grand Alii release date.
Harumi Kobayashi has again dazzled us with some amazing graphic design. She has created the entire line of art work associated with the Grand Alii cigar. From the dual bands, to liners, to encrusted spanish cedar lined boxes she has capped this amazing cigar with incredible packaging. To learn more about Harumi’s services please visit her at: http://mejirographics.com.
We’re confident that when we unveil the Grand Alii next year, it’ll not only appeal to the most discerning of tastes, but will plant a flag in the Hawaiian soil signifying its place as one of the world’s most premier regions to grow tobacco and manufacture cigars. For more information on the Grand Alii, please contact Les Drent at (808) 822-4495 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Island Prince in The Robb Report
There’s no doubt that a world-class cigar is a luxury product. An exceptional cigar is a result of diligent work, careful attention to detail, and unmatched quality of tobacco - all qualities that the Kauai Cigar Company strives for and guarantees.
As confirmation of Kauai Cigar’s luxury appeal, Kauai Cigar has been featured in the September 2008 issue of the Robb Report. The Robb Report is a monthly magazine geared towards affluent readers, featuring luxury products and services and prestigious brands.
Brent Butterworth of Robb Report writes, “...This island business produces cigars that are comparable to the ones made by the top brands of Central America and the Caribbean, and it does so by using a blend of filler tobacco that includes leaves grown on its farm on Kauai, a mountainous island with nutrient-rich volcanic soil and ample rain..."
Butterworth confirmed that the tobacco from the Island Prince cigar was indeed "very strong, but balanced and aromatic”. He also went on to write, “The cigar has a heavy-bodied palate often associated with Central American filler, but the flavor is somewhat mellower and smoother, characteristics that seem consistent with the tobacco’s island origin.” to read more visit: http://www.kauaicigar.com/reviews/in-the-media.
Kauai Cigar Company partners with ABC Stores, Food Pantry’s Lamonts/Whalers stores, and Hilo Hattie. Island Prince cigars can now be purchased at many of these stores throughout the Hawaiian Islands. These stores appeal to visitors of Hawaii, many of whom are searching for quality, Hawaiian-made products and mementos to take home with them. When these shoppers discover this unique gift from Hawaii, they are also rewarded with a truly amazing cigar that rivals the world’s best.
It took us nearly two years to convince several major Hawaii retailers to take a chance on selling the Island Prince cigars. But, in some cases their decision to pick up the line of cigars came in less than two weeks after test marketing. When the cigars hit the shelves in the bustling visitor destinations of Waikiki, Lahaina, Kona and Poipu consumers flocked and were willing to pay high dollar for Kauai-grown cigars, erasing all doubts that a 40% Hawaii wholesale tobacco tax would impede the success of this premium cigar.
For a complete listing of Kauai Cigar retailers please visit http://kauaicigar.com/retailers.
News from the tobacco Farm
It’s harvest season at Blair Estate organic tobacco farm! Harvest begins in early July and completes in early January. Although it has been a wet summer, and some crop loss has occurred; we are still managing to bring in heavy loads of premium Habano seed Kauai grown tobacco. Because the excess rain and less sun has stalled growth and caused early flowering, we have had to wait an additional several weeks before starting to harvest. Luckily though, beautiful Kauai and its mineral-rich volcanic soil nourished by mountain waterfalls has resulted in the strong growth of premium leaf when the sun does shine through. By end of year, three rounds of sun grown and one round of shade grown tobacco will be picked, strung, cured, and loosened. The tobacco will then be boxed and readied for shipment to our factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, where it will be fermented, stripped, classified, and aged for at least one year. Needless to say, cigar production requires a bundle of up-front money and numerous government issued permits to produce a premium hand rolled cigar. We’re glad to say that we’re managing, as this business/hobby continues to be a labor of love.
Production plans for Island Prince cigars have grown in response to increased sales. In 2007, 37,500 cigars were sold. This year Kauai Cigar is anticipating closer to 100,000 cigars sold by the end of 2008.
We continue to grow with the many small and large retailers throughout Hawaii. The magnitude of this success exceeded our own expectations, and plans for a 5,000 square foot tobacco curing barn have already been drawn up. Our production of tobacco will increase significantly by the 2010 harvest.
While we tested the waters with mainland US circulation, we eventually determined that every cigar currently produced by Kauai Cigar Company can be sold in Hawaii! It almost seems fitting, as we love our island roots, and we love supporting our fellow island businesses.
Les, Gigi, Jessica, and Jorgen along with our employees would like to again wish everyone a Happy Holiday season and the very best in 2009!
A hui hou!