So much has, and has not happened since 2020 that it took me about an extra year to catch up and organize my thoughts! Whether that makes sense, or not, I’m still sorry about the late posting of this annual newsletter, but better late than never as they say!
I really do enjoy making these newsletters as it is a great way to connect with our beloved customers, and all those who keep us in business. It’s also nice to look back over the years and see the changes and evolution of our businesses and farms.
The beginning of 2021 really didn’t change much from 2020. Kauai continued its isolation and we continued to enjoy all those activities afforded to us as a result of a global pandemic. Family time, hiking, empty beaches, fishing, camping, farm research, and maintaining the orchards while we waited for the world to open up again was the story of the early part of the year. But, 2021 will certainly be remembered as a comeback year for local island businesses and ours was no exception. After losing nearly 50% of our revenue during the pandemic travel shutdown, Hawaii finally opened its doors to tourism again in mid June, and almost instantly visitor arrivals shot up to nearly 70% of what they were pre-Covid.
Enjoying all that Kauai has to offer besides work during a pandemic.
The Reopening of Tourism 2021 was also a year of supply and demand challenges in order to keep our products moving from the farm to stores and customers afar. The restocking of glass bottles for our bourbon, cigar tins, and coffee packaging were all delayed as the world slowly opened back up for business. Fortunately, we saw the potential for Hawaii’s reopening early and started ordering and restocking all the items not produced on our farms sooner than later. By August of 2021 tourism was again booming in the islands and while the roads and beaches were quite a bit more crowded than they were during the lockdown the economy got a much needed lift as a result of this return to business.
Coffee Experiments and 2021 Tasting
A lot of time on the farm in 2020 was spent on experimenting with various yeasts in both coffee and chocolate. What we learned from our coffee tasting in 2021 was that our coffee taste was little impacted by the addition of inoculants during fermentation which typically lasts for only one night. The yeast made little difference when the fermentation was extended for 24-72 hours. As a farming entrepreneur I look back fondly on the time I spent experimenting with the coffee because I’ve come to realize that discovery only comes after failure.
Chocolate Experiments and 2021 Tasting
The chocolate fermentation experiments I conducted during 2021 yielded slightly different results than the coffee. We learned that the flavor of our chocolate could be both enhanced and altered with the addition of many different yeasts. Certain yeast strains helped our chocolate develop more fruit flavors, while others yielded citrus, nut and fudge notes. What we learned in the end was that our original and proprietary strain of yeast, in addition to the naturally occurring yeast in cacao still yielded the best results.
First Commercial Chocolate Bars Made at Blair Estate
With the increase in production of cacao on the farm we also finally decided for the first time to make bars for commercial sale. Up until this year our chocolate was always made for fun and was only given away to family, friends, and farm visitors With the realization that we were producing world class chocolate, and lots of it, it only made sense to start selling it to the public. We make only one type of chocolate which is a 70% dark bar and weighing a whopping 3 ounces! To buy our chocolate you can visit https://lbd-coffee-times.myshopify.com/products/blair-estate-chocolate It is wonderful chocolate, and like we do with all of our farm products, we 100% guarantee your total satisfaction!
Kauai Distilling Company and the Kauai Cigar Company again grew no corn or tobacco in 2021 as inventory of raw leaf, and aging bourbon were in good supply. With the increase in tourism we anticipate growing again in 2022. Our bourbon continues to expand in stores and can now be found at all these great locations!
Coffee Times Kona Coffee Update Despite the coffee leaf rust disease being discovered in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii in late 2020 our Blair Estate Kauai coffee and chocolate farms both enjoyed robust harvests in 2021. Luckily, neither the coffee berry borer, or coffee leaf rust has been detected at Blair Estate and with the elimination of visitors at our farms we hope it stays that way. To learn more about the harm being done by these pests and how preventive measures are being put in place to limit the spread you can visit https://konacoffeefarmers.org/coffee-leaf-rust/. Unfortunately, we do anticipate an increase in cost for our green Kona beans in 2022, but as we have always done over the last 29 years we will continue to support this industry and its farmers by roasting and selling only 100% Kona coffee.
Looking ahead to 2022 it certainly looks to be an exciting time as all of our value added crops regain their footing in the marketplace.