Off a winding road in Big Island’s Puna district, Big Island Coffee Roasters proves there is more to the Hawaii coffee scene than Kona coffee. Watching as coffee beans turn in their jet black coffee roaster, Kelleigh Stewart takes note of quality, color, and size. The husband-wife duo has taken the Big Island coffee scene by storm in seven short years.
Kelleigh Stewart and Brandon Damitz, co-founders of Big Island Coffee Roasters knew little about the coffee industry when they purchased the run-down coffee farm in the heart of Puna in 2010. For the next two years, Kelleigh and Brandon rehabilitated their orchard teaching themselves how to farm, process, and roast coffee. In the process, they formed a community of farmers all committed to growing the best coffee they could.
By 2013 Big Island Coffee Roasters landed a significant win for their Puna coffee, Grand Champion in the Hawaii Coffee Association’s Statewide Cupping Competition. This marked the first time a coffee farm outside of Ka’u or Kona won the award. That same year the Hawaii Senate recognized Stewart and Damitz for working to elevate the quality of coffee in their neighboring farms establishing coffee as a viable industry for the Puna District.
The Puna District is the wettest area of the island with 150”-220” of rainfall annually. Most of the coffee in the region is grown in rich volcanic soils creating a terroir distinctly Puna. Though the wet and overcast climate cause coffee cherries to ripen slowly, the flavor builds in complexity offering up a taste as unique as the surrounding landscape.
A flock of winter-white sheep roam the coffee field followed by free roaming chickens of all shapes and colors, providing natural fertilizer and comic relief. Stewart and Damitz continue their successes collecting awards and accolades growing their wild dream into a powerhouse in the artisan coffee industry. Stewart was inducted into Pacific Business News’ 40 under 40 in 2017, while Damitz was featured by UPROXX & Coors Banquet Beer. You can taste their unwavering dedication to produce ‘simply the best coffee you’ve ever had’ in every cup. Big Island Coffee Roasters has grown to showcase Maui, Ka’u, Kona, and Oahu grown coffee all hand selected for their exceptional quality.
It is no surprise that Four Seasons Hualalai offers Big Island Coffee Roasters’ coffees at their world-class luxury resort. A new one-of-a-kind coffee farm and tasting experience offers guests a unique farm tour at Kona Earth, a boutique coffee farm, followed by a curated coffee and pastry tasting. Big Island Coffee Roasters specialty roasts Kona Earth’s beans, with it all coming together in a deliciously exquisite experience led by the resort’s on-site coffee expert.
Big Island Coffee Roasters also offers farm tours on site in Puna. Learn about coffee from farm to cup, and you may even have a chance to feed the sheep. A light misting drizzle settles in on the farm as freshly roasted coffee wafts out of the roasting room. Their large barn door cracked open slightly, just enough to let the freshly roasted Road One coffee aroma escape into the jungle that surrounds their three-acre farm.