By Bruce Milletto

On their continuing world coffee tour for the upcoming film A Passionate Harvest, video producer Bruce Milletto, writer Kenneth Davids and the Bellissimo film crew found themselves in Kona, Hawaii, documenting the harvest of the only coffee grown on American soil.

Ken Davids, the film’s scriptwriter, arrived in Hawaii a week before the rest of the crew and developed an itinerary that included visits to noteworthy and scenic coffee sites and interviews with growers and other coffee personalities. His early arrival and planning made our Hawaii stop the easiest and least problematic of all our film shoots this year.

The crew arrived during the final days of the two-week Kona Coffee and Cultural Festival, which gave us the opportunity to film some cupping sessions and a very colorful and down-home parade.

The highlight of our shoot was filming the historic Japanese Uchida Farm. The farm operates much the way it did 100 years ago, and we were fortunate to document the way farmers lived, grew and harvested coffee a century before. Two wonderful Japanese women exhibited life on the farm for us, and we followed them as they picked fresh vegetables that grew among the rows of coffee, lit a wood fire in the kitchen and prepared the crew a traditional early-century meal.

Another day found us high in the hills visiting the counter-culture farm of Terry Fitzgibbons. Terry stopped in Kona over 20 years ago on his way to Australia for a job as a physicist and never left. He was one of the original "young hollee" farmers, taking over an abandoned coffee farm and turning it into a producing property. Living off the land in what might be best described as a tree house, Terry won the Kona Fest’s award for best coffee a few years ago.

Much work is being done in Hawaii in the field of coffee genetics, and the crew flew to Oahu to visit these government and university labs. One of the many projects scientists in these labs are working on is to genetically engineer a coffee plant that will produce beans without caffeine. These plants could be available to growers as early as 2002.

There are many people to thank for making our trip to Hawaii possible. For the duration of our film shoot, the staff of Current Events (the same agency that puts on the Iron Man Competition) arranged for us to stay in luxurious suites. Kudos also go to Captain Cook Coffee in Kona, whose financial assistance was generous and defrayed many of our expenses. Special thanks to Sheree Chase, director of the Uchida Farm, for her bright intellect and gracious hospitality that helped make our trip a truly memorable experience.

The final days of our trip were spent relaxing with the S’s: scuba, snorkeling, sun, sand, shots of various enticements, and… well, use your imagination! As we relaxed on the beach, we prepared ourselves mentally for our final shoot in Ethiopia–only weeks away.

Bruce Milletto is president of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup, a company dedicated to providing high quality educational materials, personalized business consulting and custom media production for the Specialty Coffee Industry.

What's Brewin' | Virtual Gallery | Feature Articles | Archives