Love is Brewing at Hokulele Coffee Farm
Hokulele Coffee was not a part of Deborah Lynn Dickerson’s life plan, but sometimes life surprises you.
Alongside her husband, Manuel (“Manny”) Marques, III, Dickerson now works on their farm, sells the farm’s 100% Ka‘u coffee at farmers’ markets on the Big Island, and promotes it on their website.
Back a few years ago, while living in a teacher’s cottage in Pahala, Dickerson was invited to go to the annual ILUW Christmas party.
Now, for those of you who haven’t been to Pahala, there isn’t a whole lot to do. It’s a pretty quiet place, so when that opportunity knocked, she answered.
While getting a cup of coffee (a beverage central to this story), Dickerson met Marques, and they got to chatting. They did eventually exchange telephone numbers, but Dickerson cautioned Marques that she’d be moving soon. She had plans on the Mainland—and that was that.
Or, so she thought.
Marques called Dickerson several times. He was persistent about them getting together again, and she was equally determined to head back to the Mainland.
Eventually, Dickerson agreed to a get-together, of sorts. She met him at his coffee farm, and they talked while he was fertilizing rows of plants.
He told her he loved her at the end of that date.
“I told him ‘no, you don’t, you can’t and forget it.’”
But Marques didn’t give up. Dickerson finally agreed they could see each other for a while, but she was going to the Mainland—and that was that.
Meanwhile, however, both love and coffee trees began to grow.
Dickerson did eventually go to the Mainland. Marques, unfortunately, developed some health problems, which had her concerned. She came back, helped him get back on his feet, and in October of 2013, they married.
That brings us back to the coffee.
Marques and his father had worked in the sugarcane industry, but were eventually displaced. Fortunately, his father had homesteaded some land, where they planted and learned about growing coffee.
The couple’s coffee, which they have named Hokulele (Hawaiian for “shooting star”), is grown in Pahala (Ka‘u district). Marques is a Korean natural-farming practitioner and uses no pesticides. The coffee is sustainably farmed, handpicked and sun-dried.
I drank numerous cups during our interviews and found it to have almost a sweetness, which Dickerson described as “floral tones of hibiscus and mango.” They think Ka‘u coffee is “Kona’s sweeter sister” and I think that’s a very apt description.
While I love Kona coffee, Ka‘u coffee has certainly come into its own.
Dickerson and Marques reason that our volcanic soil contains extra minerals and elements that help trees to be heartier. They also utilize a natural product known as “Azomite,” which is mined from ancient seabeds in Utah. The compound contains trace minerals and elements, which enhance the root system of the coffee plants.
Their beautiful farm sits in an area which gets a lot of mist, which is nice because it saves on watering. However, they have to be watchful for coffee borer beetles, who also like moisture.
Coffee farming is not for the faint of heart. “Don’t even think about it,” Marquez told me, laughing.
At their farmer’s market booth, they have both hot and cold coffee for sale. They also sell bags of coffee, grown with love.
You can sample or buy Deborah Lynn and Manny’s coffee at various Big Island farmers’ markets, or through their website.