According to Kona Coffee Council Vice President Bob Foerster, if you see a rise in Kona coffee prices this season, it’s not because of the last month’s earthquake. Kona is really weather dependent – not earthquake dependant, Foerster said in an interview following the earthquake.
“The earthquake rattled the north end of the island a bit,” he said. “But it really didn’t affect us here in the coffee belt.” The coffee belt, as it’s commonly known to locals, is roughly two miles wide, 20 miles long and located in the mid-southwest side of the island.
Fortunately for Kona lovers, power was down for only a few days after the 6.7 quake and there was no significant damage to the infrastructure – so production of coffee never really ceased. And since Kona coffee is flown from Hawaii to the mainland, rather than shipped by sea, there were no delays.
Getting coffee out of Indonesia was a real problem following the tsunami in 2004, said Mike Ferguson, Chief Communications Officer for the Specialty Coffee Association of American (SCAA), a California-based trade association. Ports were clogged with shipments of aid and relief, so exporting coffee was a real problem.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans last summer, the problem was exactly the opposite. Because New Orleans is our nation’s second largest coffee port and a third of its facilities were destroyed, many coffee shipments were delayed from entering.
“Generally speaking, when it comes to coffee, it’s pretty hard to mess up the infrastructure,” said Ferguson. “Plantations themselves can withstand a lot of damage due to the weather.”
All things aside, if Kona plantations end up with a bumper crop like last year’s, prices of our favorite Hawaiian coffee should remain the same.
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