OK ladies, now let's get INFORMATION
Whew! I've spent the last seven years of my life on a social enterprise coffee business at the new, remote growing region of Ka`u, in Hawaii.
These farmers were laid off from the sugar plantation and started growing coffee without knowing what kind of cut throat tactics were in store for them, and they were going out of business. I realized that because my family has traded commodities for four generations, I had specialized knowledge that could help them succeed.
Because I was recently divorced, I was reading a lot of Deepak Chopra and was impacted by his statement that our greatest reward comes from giving the greatest gift we have to give. I saw how colonialism is perpetuated when brown people create value that they then lose to wealthier, more educated white people who did not participate in value creation but end up reaping the economic rewards. This just seemed unbearable to me and I threw in my destiny with theirs.
This was the craziest, most stressful and most rewarding time of my life. I did not have a date for the first five years. I had a meth dealer waving a shotgun in my face. I had workers who hit on me, a former US Senator pretend he didn't hear my idea in a meeting and then repeat it as if it was his own, and the President of a statewide farming organization grab me repeatedly on the behind during a USDA meeting. I had times when there was less than $100 in my bank account and I had to eat out of the garden, and when I had to boil water on the stove to bathe, because my solar panel didn't heat up any water.
I also had people protect me and care for me as if I was their own daughter. Coming from a broken home, my heart was healed when I saw the strong, loving men in healthy relationships with empowered, sweet but tough women. They fed me when I was too stressed out to eat and made sure I always had someone to celebrate the holidays with. I got to wake up to sunrise over the ocean almost every day. I got to meditate and cry and reconnect with myself in the silence of that vast, remote place.
Today demand for the farmer's coffee is high. Their prices have stabilized at an historic high for the region, and they earn a respectable margin. I have in turn won a home and a community for myself where I can always return.
This bag of coffee is not just a delicious, quality controlled and finely crafted caffeinated beverage, it is a labor of love and the product of many trials endured and overcome. But the battle is not won yet.
Please help me prevail by making this business viable. I need customers like you to help me pay back my loans and keep me in the game! I founded a nonprofit, I Ola Nā ʻĀina Momona, to help these tenant farmers to gain land security. I also am actively standing for human rights across the coffee growing world by highlighting what it costs to grow coffee in a first-world context.
Thank you so much for buying Ka`u Specialty Coffee. Your purchase will make an impact in the Ka`u community, and across the world.
Ka`u Specialty LLC.
Malian Lahey is a coffee producer in Hawaii and started her social enterprise coffee business, Kau Specialty LLC, in 2010. She worked in a vineyard and on a dairy farm in Switzerland where she learned about small scale milk, cheese, and meat production. She is the fourth generation in her family [...]