Trips to Origin, Tours and Lecture Reviews

Stell Coffee and Tea 10 Year Anniversary event

So on February 22nd 2014 A local coffee in Redlands California celebrated their 10 year Anniversary.  

The event started at 12 in the afternoon till 8 at night and fettered local bands playing, Beer dos, Hot dogs and a beer garden fettering Ritual Brewing Co. also located in Redlands.


As a special treat to their costumers Stell also released their first coffee blend featuring Papua New Guinea.   



Here is a interview with owner Robert Stell 

How is it being at your 10 year anniversary? Is this everything you thought it would be?

“Honestly I haven’t even though about it”

What are you expecting for the next 10 years?

“ A lot of growth, a lot of expansion” 

A new store?

“Maybe a few stores and a roasting facility, changing this( Redlands) to more of a cafe, Upgrade the kitchen, and the separate the roasting so we have more elbow room and can buy maybe have more verity of coffee because we are limited on space”

Are you planing on bringing in geisha’s then?

“ Um maybe, it is posable. I try not to buy coffees that everybody can get” “I like those coffees but right not because I have limited space I try to keep it so that coffees that are great but that are not overly priced so I can sell to who ever, I don’t want to chase anyone away.

So what about the next 3 - 5 years? Maybe try for roaster of the year?

“ I really don't care about stuff like that! It doesn't matter to me. This is for the people. I do this because i like what I do. I like roasting coffee, working on equipment, being a barista, I like to try and figure out how to make the business better, I like all that stuff and don't care about roaster of the year or any of that stuff. I am lucky to do what I do and have a good location, and we will look for more locations, and keep going in that respect. I fell lucky to even wake up everyday and do this so I fell like thats enough. Granted don't get me wrong it would be cool to have the title but I don't even know if i worry to strive for that”

What about mail order subscriptions like Mistobox?

“Yes possibly.”  “ I really like retail; I wouldn't mind pushing for some more retail sales maybe some more online, buts a direction we defiantly we want to go and any way to roast more coffee is perfectly good for me” “ Wholesale is always my largest one”


Seed To Cup Coffee Tour at Klatch Roasters in Upland CA

On February second of 2013 I was privileged to attend a tour and cupping at Klatch Coffee Roasters at their roasting facility in Upland. The tour and cupping was conducted by Todd there coffee guru.

It started with everyone in their lab where Todd and one of their baristas where serving espresso drinks. From there we all went to tables that had a station for each person when we cupped. Todd then gave an Introduction to Klatch and a brief history of the company. Form there we went into The Seed to Cup, it was all done by with power point presentation for picture examples. Todd was very detailed on every aspect of how you get your cup of coffee and used their own relations with the producers to emphasize how a single farm can be on top or how it can lose everything and have to start over.


The lecture part went into great examples on different aspects that can effect coffee from rain where Todd showed and explained how in Brazil was having big worries when the coffee trees had not bloomed and there had not been any rain for some time but also showed a picture from a night of rain where all the trees had bloomed. Do to that he told us the Brazil had its best year of coffee for some time. 
Todd also explained that the threat to coffee is wind.


After the lecture we met Shane, one of their roasters, where he roasted a batch of coffee to show us and explain how they roast. He made it very easy to understand with out going into technical wording.

From the roasting we then went and started the cupping. We had three verities; a Sumatra, El Salvador, and Kenya. Todd went through the whole cupping procedures starting with the aroma of the freshly ground beans and then the breaking of the crust where we where smelling the aroma as we broke it. We then waited for it to come to Temperature and taking off the "foam coating." From there we all slurped. Many of the people there where uncomfortable when they where told to do a cupping correctly "you slurp the coffee so it fully aerates the coffee and covers your mouth fully"


After there was a large question and answer period with Todd, Shane, and the two baristas. Before we all where done Shane came by and gave everyone a small bag of the coffee he roasted for the demonstration.

The cost for all this was $20 and for the information and the experience it is well worth it. I highly recommend it for any one who loves, knows coffee or waiting to learn more about it and see what it takes to get your cup of coffee.

Mountain Thunder

 “The Kona coffee, raised on the uplands of the Island of Hawaii is superior to any other coffee raised. I think that I can safely say this. The flavor is truly superb. One has never tasted coffee who has not drunk Kona coffee.”

Hon. Henry E. Cooper, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Republic, 1896

Mountain Thunder Coffee Co. Cloud Forest Estate located at 3200 ft. Is the highest coffee mill and plantation in the coffee belt. They are the largest of the 50 Certified Organic farms by the USDA and are also kosher KOF-K certified. 

They have 35 acres with 10,000 trees.  On a busy day they say they can do 40 100 pound bags. Their coffee is like all Kona Coffee, hand picked. once picked their cherries are sent to their wet mill where there cherries are striped of there outer cover. From there they are sent to soak then sort. They Sort their coffee with a gravity - density table and screens by 19 and 60/64ths  for Extra Fancy, 18 and 60/64ths for Fancy, 17 and 60/64ths for #1 and lastly 15 & 16 that is graded as prime.  After the proses goes to skinning then a fermentation bath that takes 18 hours. Their last part before they roast is their sun drying, They sun dry for three days on decks where the beens are raked out so they are not on top of one another. Then it goes to roasting. 

Mountain Thunder fertilizes once a year with a combination of kelp, old leaves/ wood pulp/,  coffee remnants, and donkey excrement. They hand Spread there fertilizer and compost around the coffee trees making sure it does not go on the tree it self so not to burn the trunk.

So getting there is not so easy but is a great drive into the forest with beautiful wild ginger and orchids all over. Wild pheasant and boars also can been seen so look for them.

Once you get to the Mill you have to find parking, they do not have a parking lot so you park on the side of the road in the grass. It does rain a lot up there and this visit was no exception so bring shoes not sandals or flip flops to weir.

After you park you go to a little hut where they serve you coffee and you can watch videos they where featured in (Dirty Jobs, Unwrapped, ect)  before you go on the tour. 

The tour is about 30 minutes depending on size of group and whats going on at the mill.

They take you first to the coffee trees and explain about them and a little history about the mill and family.  From there you go in to the mill and see how they sort, and size for roasting of their coffee after it has been brought to that point. From their you go to the roasting room and depending on when you go you can see them roasting and see how it gets from a green bean to the coffee you buy. 

After they take you to their gift shop and show you their coffee and explain to you their different roasts and bags because not all are from Cloud Estate. The tour is done after that.

Mountain Thunder has four roasts:  

Their first is a Vienna Roast that is their medium roast. 

They roast it to 440 to 445 digress and till it looks like " Milk- Chocolate."

The flavor plate is to be nutty with an intense aroma.

Their second is their French Roast or a dark roast.

They roast this coffee to 450 - 460 digress or  the color of "Dark- Chocolate."

The flavor of this roast is to be smooth and bittersweet.

Their lightest roast is an American Roast that they roast at 420 to 430 digress.

They roast this to a cinnamon color with the flavors that are to be "Buttery, nutty body, and a subdue sweet acidity."  

Their last roast is one they created at Mountain Thunder, Black and Tan.

It is a combination of their American and French Roasts. 

Hula Daddy

Hula Daddy located in at the Northern start of Hōlualoa was started in 2002 when Karen and Lee    bought a eleven  acre cow pasture. Soon after they contacted and hired a local agronomist about planting coffee. Within the next year they cleared the eleven acres and planted 7000 trees. Their first crop was in 2005 and in 2007 where the placed as one of the top six coffees in the world and where given a 90 by the coffee review. 

In 2008 they brought in a soil consultant from napa and with the new information changed from planting to roasting six months later. They also conducted an in house study about what cherries to pick. With their new information they changed their picking form the standard of picking.  

Later in September of 2008 Karen and Lee bought another twenty acres of land on the slops of Hualalai Volcano at an elevation of 2500 ft. They planted at their new location in late 2009. In November of 2011 they harvested from there new location and has to be constantly picked when in season from this location. 

During the years of there newly acquired land in 2008, Hula Daddy brought in master roaster Miguel Meza to help them bring there coffee to a higher level. In December of 2008 Miguel helped Hula Daddy score a 97 on coffee review, one of only four to ever score so high, with their Kona Sweet. It was during this time that Hula Daddy also brought in Laura Ross to learn and study from Miguel. Around mid 2010 Miguel left and Laura became Hula Daddy's new roaster. After the first harvest of their new farm Laura created a new roast for Hula Daddy and in April of 2012 Laura's Blend received a 93 from coffee review. 

Hula Daddy now has planted over thirty-one acres with over 17,000 trees and is the only plantation I know of on the island who pays the puckers by the hour rather then by the cherry or pound. With this they have been able to have the same crew for the last five years and pick the cherries they want specifically. They also have the pickers gather the cherries once a week during the session.  

Hula Daddy fertilizes organically and collects green wast from local restaurants and mixes it with wood chips and coffee pulp. In 2011 they made 50 tons for their plantation.

They are not a wet mill or pulp but do dry their own beans.They send their beans to pulp in Captain Cook area. Their drying racks are located at the Kona International Airport. Their drying times depends on their type of coffee they are making. The traditional usually takes seven to ten days while their Oli two weeks and their Kona Sweet takes two months ( more about those later.)

Hula Daddy sits at an elevation of 1400 and is perfectly placed to get the morning sun the afternoon shade and rain. Once you arrive at there plantation you notice their beautiful visitor center with a view of the Kona coast. They have a full kitchen where they show different styles and coffee makers throughout history. After you look at the view and try some coffee you are taken on a farm tour. They start by showing you the front and tell you about Hula Daddy. From there you go down stairs to there coffee trees. They explain how they pick and show you ripe cherries and if you like you can take one off and suck on the seeds to taste the parchment and silverskin of the cherry. While you are in the trees they also tell you about the wild Jacksons Chameleon they have and usually have a cone out for where they where last seen. Then they take you to their sorting table and when they have cherries usually Karen and or  Lee are out there sorting with their crew. They are always welcoming and willing to teach you how to sort and you can join in if you like ( it does sound easy but it is acutely hard to do but it is very worth it to see how it is done.) After you go through the trees and watch them you go to the roasting room. In the roasting room you will meet Laura Ross their roaster. Your tour guide explains the types of roasts and explains that they roast between 410 and 430 degrease. Your guide will show you their sizing screens ( all are the standard 19/64ths ,18/64ths, 16/64ths , and 8/64ths x 3/4 od) and a collection of what coffee beans look like as they roast. While in the roasting room you will usually be able to see Laura roasting or cupping the batch she had just roasted. She is always willing to explain what she is doing and is able to answer almost any question you want to know about coffee. After yo go back up the stairs and to that phenomenal view.  IF YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE OF WALKING DOWN A STRAIGHT LONG FLIGHT OF STAIRS I WOULD NOT GO ON THE TOUR.

Hula Daddy has two natural coffees Oli and Kona Sweet,

Their Oli is milled and they keep the outer mucus (silver Skin) on then they dry the beans and roast. Their other is Kona Sweet, they dry the whole cherry the get it hulled. 

They do produce Peaberry but that only accounts for  0.5 of 1 percent of their crop.

Hula Daddy's Oli has " Dark chocolate flavors, Raisin, and soft earth notes.

Their Kona Sweet has "Soft but powerful acidity with and apple cider nuance, delicate, and subtle milk chocolate" While I was their Laura was cupping their peaberry and explained " it has a citrus and black current flavor with plum and apple after notes"