At Kauai Coffee Company, producing coffee in a sustainable manner is as much a cultural commitment as it is an environmental one. For more than six years, Fred Cowell, General Manager has managed the largest coffee farm in the United States by putting care for his employees, Kauai’s land, natural resources, and community at the forefront.
With an ambitious sustainability program in place, Kauai Coffee Company has earned the unique distinction of producing triple certified Hawaiian coffee. 100% Kauai Coffee® is Fair Trade Certified™, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified.
Goods that are Fair Trade Certified™ by Fair Trade USA help provide safe working conditions and environmental protections, while empowering farmers to create sustainable livelihoods and improve their communities.
The Rainforest Alliance seal means that farmers follow more sustainable farming practices that protect forests, improve their livelihoods, promote human rights of farm workers, and help them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. The Non-GMO Project verification program is North America’s most rigorous third-party verification for non-GMO food and products.
“Our team has worked hard to earn and maintain our sustainability certifications. In the Hawaiian culture, we have a word, kuleana, which means responsibility and stewardship,” said Cowell. “At Kauai Coffee Company, we feel it is our kuleana to look after our land and resources for those who will follow and honor the contributions of those who came before,” he continued.
Kauai Coffee Company’s commitment to sustainable farming and soil management isn’t just a buzzword. With nearly four million coffee trees, growing responsibly depends on careful stewardship and technology. The 3,100-acre farm is the largest drip-irrigated coffee estate in the world, with over 2,500 miles of efficient drip tubing installed. The system applies nutrients directly to the roots of the trees, reducing the amount of fertilizer and herbicides used and eliminating the need to spray or dust the crop.
Two other critical components of Kauai Coffee Company’s sustainability program are water conservation and soil health. To conserve water during the harvest, Kauai Coffee Company diverts water from the drip irrigation system to the processing plant, where it is used to clean and remove the coffee fruit from the bean. After processing, more than three million pounds of coffee cherry pulp and mulch are composted and put back into the orchard as a soil nutrient, and the water used to clean and process the beans is filtered and reapplied on the farm. Kauai Coffee Company is also in the early stages of converting the orchard to a full cover crop operation, which has the potential to increase organic matter in the soil and reduce water requirements by 20%.