Ezju Painting Coffee Culture in Hawaii April 2007!
If you’re asking what the Hawaiian Islands have to do with coffee culture you probably aren’t familiar with one of the worlds best coffees, Kona.
Hawaii is steep in history and tradition when it comes to coffee. I intend to capture some of the Hawaiian culture and history in drawings that will become paintings in the months that follow the trip. I would like to do some Plein Air paintings while on the island paradise but family time being a major priority will limit the number of works I’ll be able to do on location. Sketches and photographs will suffice for in studio works.
Even though Hawaii isn’t in a different country from the current coffee culture paintings, I feel that because of the differences in Hawaiian and main land America’s cultures it will be an excellent start for my look at coffee culture in other countries.
I am going to contact the owners of Bad Ass Coffee in Maui and some of the local coffee farms for interviews and access to subject matter, more posting on this as things progress. All interviews, drawings and paintings will be posted here and the No Such Animal Studios Web site http://www.nosuchanimal.net in the spring and summer of 2007.
Information on the Guatemala trip will be coming soon. The goal is March 2007 for 1 week. This would put me in Guatemala in the middle of harvest!
A brief history of coffee in Hawaii:
Reprinted from the Maui Coffee Co. Web site - http://www.mauicoffeeco.com
Don Francisco de Paula Marin recorded in his journal in 1813 that he had planted coffee on Oahu. That planting eventually failed, but in 1825 Chief Boki, Governor of Oahu, brought coffee to Hawaii aboard the British warship H.M.S. Blonde. This ship was returning to Hawaii the bodies of King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamamalu, who had died in London from measles during a state visit. Chief Boki, in charge of the funeral party, had acquired coffee plants in Rio de Janeiro during the long voyage. The coffee was planted in Manoa Valley on Oahu, and eventually from this small field trees were introduced to other areas of Oahu as well as to neighbor islands. In 1828, Reverend Samuel Ruggles planted coffee trees from Manoa in the Naole area (now Captain Cook) above Kealakekua Bay on the Kona Coast. The plants thrived in this environment due to the elevation, rich soil, and consistent cloud cover. Acreage increased, and an entire culture rose around the farming of Kona Coffee which was quickly earning a superior reputation far beyond the islands. At that time, however, Hawaii's "export" economy consisted primarily of provisioning whaling and trading ships that visited Hawaii and coffee had a ready market with the mariners. In the 1860's the whaling industry collapsed, destroying the primary market for Hawaiian coffee. In the 1870's sugar became Hawaii's major crop as a result of the growing market on the west coast, and a Reciprocity Treaty between the Kingdom of Hawaii and the United States of America.
Maui was an important stop for vessels laden with coffee from the 1800s all the way into the golden age of steamships in the 1900s. Mala Wharf (right) was one of the chief stops for vessels heading from the docks in old Kailua town to the bustling sea port of Honolulu. More often than not, these vessels were only partly filled with coffee and they would take on pineapple produced by the Baldwin Packers, which ran a packing facility where the Lahaina Cannery mall stands today.
Late in the 19th century interest and investment in coffee revived. Land opened in Kona, and there were efforts to establish coffee plantations. The economics of coffee defeated theses efforts, and the plantations were replaced by small farms operated by former sugar plantation laborers who wanted to farm on their own. (1) Fluctuations of world coffee markets and prices during the 20th century, as well as local environmental and social factors, evolved the industry in to a structure of small privately owned farms. The average farm of the day was less than 5 - acres in size. Through this period, however, much work was done by the Hawaii Agricultural Extension Service to improve coffee, so Kona not only maintained, but added to its reputation of being one of the world's greatest coffees. During the 1930's in particular. Hawaii earned the reputation of being a world leader in improving cultivation methods. With all such improvements, Kona coffee is still carefully grown and hand picked in limited quantities.