Roy Helbush’s Sea Mountain Coffee Company has a deep and rich history. A third generation dream lost and found. When his Great Grandfather J.C. Searle, and his newly wed wife who was of the Yates family from Kona, also involved in coffee, arrived in Ka’u via a ship which sank off Honu’apo in the 1890’s. They managed to swim to shore and take up residence at Hilea.
Then when the homestead lands opened between Wailau and Makanau they settled there to fulfill a dream. J.C. cultivated his coffee in Ka’u as early as 1894. But there was also the sugar plantation and he could not compete for workers for the coffee fields, hence the coffee dream was lost and the Searle family went from coffee to sugar cane. Time and history went by and eventually before the sugar plantation closed the family got out of sugar.
Roy has fond memories starting from the time he was 6 years old when his family, including his cousin Merle, (Gilbert Searle’s daughter) would spend 3 months of their summers to help work the family farm. All the families would come together to lend a hand.
Before returning permanently to the Big Island in 1980, Roy would commute back and forth from Oahu and Ka’u spending equal time (2 weeks here 2 weeks there) Then eventually more weeks here less weeks there, and then the decision to stay home in Ka’u. When he first came back he started out farming Protea on 3 acres. But while spending his time in Ka’u he would take the opportunity to speak with and learn from his Uncle Gilbert Searle about their family history and heritage. “Uncle Gilbert educated me about my Great Grandfather and his legacy.”
“We went to J.C.’s original plot and pulled coffee plants from the parcel started by my great grandfather and planted them on my own parcel and that is how it all came about.” The 3rd generation family dream found and rekindled.
Roy now farms approximately 5 acres of coffee on his homestead at about 1,800’ elevation.
It’s a piece of Heaven with the perfect conditions for coffee. The right amount of sunshine in the morning, cool cloudy afternoons and a rich soil content. Due to the High standards and level of competition among the Ka’u Coffee Farmers, the magnificent weather and soil conditions make for a premium coffee.
Sea Mountain Coffee is a direct offshoot from Roy’s great grandfather’s pure Arabica coffee plants from the 1890’s. The coffee is hand picked and processed at the farm in small batches and sun dried.
Although Sea Mountain Coffee has not been entered into any direct competitions, word from the customers who purchase Sea Mountain Coffee from the farmer’s markets around the state give it great reviews.
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