Coffee company details plans for Big Island land

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Kau Royal Hawaiian Coffee & Tea is planning for its future a year after buying more than a thousand acres on Hawaii's Big Island. The small limited-partnership company paid about $7 million for more than 1,600 scenic acres last January, reported the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (...

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Kau Royal Hawaiian Coffee & Tea is planning for its future a year after buying more than a thousand acres on Hawaii's Big Island.

The small limited-partnership company paid about $7 million for more than 1,600 scenic acres last January, reported the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (http://bit.ly/1Q9ojF4 ). The company wants to grow coffee, tea, fruits and vegetables on the former sugar plantation, according to Louis Leong, general manager for Kau Royal Hawaiian Coffee & Tea.

The company plans to invest another $20 million in the land to build a coffee mill and a tea-processing plant, according to Leong. They're planning to have their first harvest within three to five years.

Leong said Kau Royal Hawaiian Coffee & Tea also hopes to build a visitors center and offer public tours of the facilities.

"We formed a company just for this project, so it's a brand new venture for us," said Leong. "We'd like to add an (agricultural tourism) aspect to the project later on, after we build our coffee mill and tea processing (facilities) so we can introduce the tea culture to more people locally. Hopefully, we'll have a very special commercial tea farm, and people can enjoy the harvesting and processing aspect of tea production."

He said coffee and tea will probably be grown for global distribution, but other crops might be sold locally.

The company is owned by California-based Eva Liu, but Leong said they're hoping to help the local economy by hiring a land manager and possibly leasing land to local farmers. He said they're also planning to hire seasonal workers for harvesting.

"We've learned that after the collapse of the sugar industry, a lot of farmers have (to go) far to find jobs," said Leong. "So if we can create opportunities and have workers in the farm industry, they don't have to travel as far now."

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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