Winter Newsletter 2011 – 2012
It has been another exciting year at the farm, with the expansion of the Kauai’ Cigar family, travels including Nicaragua and Cuba, and changes to our coffee farming methods.
Introducing three new Kaua’i Cigars
The Hawaiian Vintage cigars are full-bodied and robust, bearing the artistic rendering of the old Hawaiian coin, designed by Tommy Cook. The cigars are encased in a classic Cuban style 25 count style box. A layer of Spanish cedar wood is shelved between the cigars, which are not wrapped in cellophane but are layered loose in order to age together better. The Hawaiian Vintage is available in three sizes, including the No Ka Oi, a perfecto.
This newest medium to full-bodied cigar is named after the lush mountain that looms over the Kaua’i Cigar Company tobacco farm. The Makaleha is packaged in a hand-woven lauhala box, with the Makaleha graphic design by Harumi Kobayashi. These cigars were created with inspiration from Michael Tam, owner of the Martin & MacArthur stores throughout Hawai’i, where the Makaleha series are featured.
The result of a delicious idea: rich chocolate poured in a special plastic cigar mold, the Kokoleka (chocolate in Hawaiian) is now available. Made with 100% Hawaiian grown chocolate from the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Company from Keauhou, Hawai’i, these dense, dark cigars are a sweet addition to the Kaua’i Cigar line. Just recently an excited customer called in a large order of the Kokoleka cigars in celebration of the birth of his granddaughter, offering a delicious alternative to the tobacco for the occasion.
Travels to Cuba, Nicaragua and Honolulu
In March Les traveled down to Cuba and met with Hirochi Robaina, grandson of the late Alejandro Robaina, one of the world’s renowned masters in the cigar world. Les explained that Hirochi “speaks about as much English as I do Spanish,” but they found common communication ground on three topics: cigars, baseball, and women.
The annual pilgrimages to Nicaragua continued this year, visiting Victor Calvo and family, as they are an integral part of the Kaua’i Cigar. Our continued success could not happen without them.
Tai island-hopped over to O’ahu in January 2012 for the Pro Bowl, where he rolled cigars for over 600 guests in the football industry. We were honored to be invited once again for this special event.
LBD Coffee News—Changes Ahead
Back to “Kona” Pruning Style
We are making some changes at the coffee farm, most notably our method of pruning the coffee trees. The last few years we applied a variation of the Beaumont-Fukunaga pruning style, where entire rows of coffee plants are planted by year–one row at the one year stage, another row at two year stage, and another at the three year stage. Our variation involved planting by section rather than row–year one in one section, year two in another part of the farm, and year three a different section.
We are transitioning away from this style, back to the Kona Style of pruning. The Kona method has three different years/stages on one coffee tree, with each tree’s vertical shoots at different heights representing a different year. We are hoping this modification will allow us to produce stellar coffee crops in the years ahead.
Goodbye to Gliricidia
Another change on the coffee farm is the elimination of the gliricida trees. Planted a few years back in order to enrich the soil with nitrogen and provide shade for the coffee plants, these trees are in the process of being removed from the farm. Due to the fast-growing nature of this species, the continuous maintenance is demanding, and the large branches fall, consequently breaking the coffee branches below.
Recently we decided to raise eight chickens, of different varieties, as egg layers. Our chickens roam around the farm during the afternoon, and retire to their chicken tractor in the evening. The children love to check for the eggs when they arrive home from school, and you can’t beat the taste of a farm fresh egg.
New Faces on the Farm
Jason Strand is a new manager at the Farm. Jason started helping out around the farm in early March, and has quickly proved to be a valuable asset. Jason has displayed great farming traits, along with being a seasoned mechanic. Jason helped manage our 2011 summer tobacco harvest and his responsibilities have been increasing ever since.
Lois Ann Ell is the new writer for the Coffee Times Blog. Check out her monthly stories on a plethora of topics — culture, food, nature, farming, and more — all about Hawai’i. Please comment on the blogs and let her know of any subjects you are interested in reading about. Lois Ann is a writer and journalist, and editor for Kaua’i Backstory, a literary journal. She lives on the east side of Kaua’i with her husband, three children and three rescued animals.