Coffee is not native to Hawaii. It first grew wild around the horn of Africa. Centuries ago, a farmer in present-day Ethiopia noticed local goats munching on some berries had an unusual, frenetic look to them, and decided to try them out himself. The berries were found to bitter for taste in the raw, but produced a pleasing aroma in fire. Later on, Ethiopian slaves were fed the substance on their way to the port of Mocha, where they would be transported throughout the continent. Coffee only grew in tropical climates, with ample moisture, which made the explorers in Hawaii consider trying cultivation there.
On this day, coffee was first planted in the Kona district of the Big Island of Hawaii.
Don Francisco de Paula Marín, a Spaniard who lived in Hawaii and became a confidant of King Kamehameha was the first to attempt cultivating coffee, as he had cultivated pineapples and many other crops on the island. But his plantation failed. The American missionary Rev. Samuel Ruggles was the first to make a successful plantation on Kona, which became known in Hawaii as “Kanaka Koppe” (Hawaiian coffee), and is one of the most expensive strains of coffee today.