In the least-populated district of the Big Island, near Pahala, lies a group of pristine, cloud-haloed coffee farms.
Called "Cloud Rest," these spruce-studded coffee farms lie on the slopes of the majestic Mauna Loa and enjoy rich, fertile soil and a rainy/sunny climate that is perfect for growing perfect coffee. Growing coffee in the shadow of Earth's largest volcano means you get a less acidic, rich and flavorful beverage that dances on your tongue.
I came across Cloud Rest after visiting the Ka'U Coffee Mill, owned by the Edmund C. Olson Trust. The Coffee Mill, just a few miles away from Cloud Rest, collects beans from several farmers who own and operate these farms. Much of the coffee here is sold to independent processors and the local farmers live off their earnings from growing coffee ever since the sugarcane industry faded away.
A meditative experience for both mind and body, Cloud Rest is a special place and another of the island's hidden gems. I loved breathing the filtered mountain air and walking through neatly-planted rows of coffee—all in the shadow of the giant volcano.
Tip: To reach Cloud Rest, visit the Ka'U Coffee Mill on Wood Valley Road and keep driving past it. You can ask for directions at the Mill if you're unsure (808-928-0550).