Today’s post comes to you from the Big Island of Hawaiʻi — home of Kona coffee. A local story here about genetically modified coffee in Hawaiʻi apparently has gone national: Hawaii won’t ban genetic coffee – USATODAY.com.
I’ve been on Hawaiʻi for the past few days, drinking up the good local Kona as filter coffee and scratching my head over the tendency for places to offer Kona and pure Hawaiian Island espresso. As we mentioned in our last post, some coffee is made for filter or vacuum brewing, and some is made for espresso. Kona coffee, with its delicate floral and fruit tones, is not meant for espresso — you lose the high-end of its range in the brewing process (and thus eliminate much of what makes it special or unique), and there isn’t enough body or flavor depth at the low end to carry the cup. But more on that in a future post.
The issue here in the news today regards genetically modified coffee. One group of interested parties wants to harvest genetically modified coffee on Oʻahu that ‘naturally’ grows decaffeinated. A good number of Kona growers, many of them rightfully still angry over Michael Norton’s massive Kona fraud scheme of the 1990s, don’t want the specter of ‘frankencoffee’ to tarnish their hard-fought brand image.
Of course, what none of these growers are willing to admit is that all the coffee in Hawaiʻi is an invasive species, brought in from overseas bean stocks and selected for their own natural genetic modification on the islands. Not that we’re in favor of genetically modified foods at CoffeeRatings.com, but many demonize the stuff, copping the purity argument, without acknowledging that the evolution of humans, animals, plants, and everything in between is an impure story of continental migration, cross-fertilization, and genetic modification.
As much as I have come to appreciate and respect Hawaii’s “indigenous” people and culture, the Polynesians who first settled here some 1,500 years ago were themselves invaders — not entirely different from the overweight, Hawaiian-shirt-and-flip-flops-wearing tourists who come off the plane in search of Mai Tais today. Every time I read something about preserving and protecting the unspoiled, native kamaʻāina Hawaiian culture from the foreign haole influences, I have to wonder if they’re a bit pupule (crazy). When someone cries “foul” about protecting the purity of what once was in the face of change, whether it’s genetically modified coffee in Hawaiʻi or immigration in America, what constitutes “pure” is always a matter of perspective.
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