Fruits of Their Labor | The Molokai Dispatch


Coffees of Hawaii expands coffee into a tea.

If you have ever tasted the generic Pinesol-tasting lemon tea found in hotel rooms, a new tea to Molokai will leave you feeling spoiled.

Coffees of Hawaii has created their first original tea, made from the fruit of their coffee plants and blended with flowers and herbs. This kind of tea is called a tisane (pronounced ti-zane), an herbal fusion of different flowers and herbs. This particular infusion is only produced on Molokai, and uses only Hawaiian-grown products – most of which is found on Friendly Isle.

By adding different flowers or plants to the tea, such as lemongrass, the tisane takes on a richer flavor and additional health benefits. So for example, unlike your basic lemon tea, Coffees’ lemongrass tea is full and tart, complimenting the sweetness of the fruit base. It’s a warm wave of earthy lemon that spreads throughout the body, a welcome sensation for any occasion.

Tea Try-out
The idea took root only a few months ago. Maria Holmes, sales and operations manager at Coffees, visited Maui earlier this year for the annual Maui County Agricultural Festival. There she learned more about the coffee cherry and how nutrient-rich the fruit was.

“I thought, this is cool,” Holmes said, when another coffee producer explained how the coffee cherry has more antioxidant power than blueberries or acai. Holmes was also told other places in the world have used the fruit as a supplement or pharmaceutical uses because of its antioxidant power. But no other company seemed to be mass-producing the fruit as a tisane.

“Sustainable is the buzzword all over world, and how can use more of our product,” Holmes said. “We decided, why don’t we do something different?”

So at the beginning of the last coffee harvest in September, Holmes and one of Coffees’ owners, Albert Boyce, decided to try for a coffee cherry tea.

They started with the pulp of Muleskinner coffee, the 100 percent Molokai coffee which dries for six weeks with the fruit still on. During this year’s coffee harvest, from September to December, they’ve also added a step to their coffee processing to save the pulp.

Holmes and Boyce were also lucky to have someone on their staff already knowledgeable about the tea-making process. Jessie Ford, a sales administrator and master tea blender, has been trying out her own tea and tisane blends since college.

“For us, it kind of fits in with ideas of sustainability, where we may be able to measure efficiency by how much waste we create,” said Ford. “Previously the pulp, being very nutrient rich, was returned to the fields and applied as compost.”

By blending the cherry with local products, like locally-grown lemongrass, and Hawaiian staples like ginger, the tea became something quintessentially Hawaiian.

“I think [the tea] has a really good body to begin with,” she said, adding that picking the combinations for flavor and health benefits came very naturally.

Healthy Addition
Coffees of Hawaii already produces 21 different types of coffee and chocolate-covered coffee beans, selling on the other islands and around the world, but as Holmes learned in Maui, there is more to coffee than just the bean.

“Tisane: Molokai style,” reduces the company’s waste by reusing the pulp as a profitable product, and adds another, more mellow dimension to the company, said Ford. Since coffee is a highly “amped” drink, there is another market that Coffees wished to reach with a less caffeinated product.

“Mocha Mamas keep us in business,” Holmes said. “But this is a better choice, a healthy alternative, for the kupuna and those that don’t drink coffee.”

The tea blends were also chosen for their specific health benefits.

“This community to me seems to be increasingly more active and health conscious. This is an excellent way to support any dietary or lifestyle change,” Ford said.

The original tisane and its five blends is already available to order through their website,, will be hitting Coffees’ retail shelves around the holidays and will soon be sold in other shops around the island.

Molokai’s Tisane Choices
Cherry ambrosia: a completely new interpretation of coffee. Several times the antioxidant power of blueberries.

Jasmine Blossom Green Tea: coffee cherry, jasmine blossoms (strong antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-tumor properties), green tea (boosts metabolism).

Lavender Tisane: coffee cherry, lavender blossoms (antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, and anti-depressant properties).

Lemongrass Tisane: coffee cherry, lemongrass (relieves fever, flu, headaches, intestinal irritations; detoxifies liver and the digestive tract).

Mamaki Ginger Tisane: coffee cherry, mamaki leaf (reduces cholesterol, cleanses toxins from the blood), ginger root (cold remedy, also used by native Hawaiians; promotes energy circulation and increases metabolic rate, relieves cold skin, hands & feet).

Papaya Leaf Vanilla Tisane: coffee cherry, papaya leaf (relieves heartburn, indigestion; wheat gluten (good for people with Celiac disease), vanilla bean (aromatherapeutic: reduces stress, helps headaches, improves mood, relieves depression; calming to queasy stomach).

(Except for green tea from Japan, all ingredients are Molokai- or Hawaii-grown.)

Fruits of Their Labor | The Molokai Dispatch

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