The Kona Coffee Farmer’s Little Boy That Could

Coffee astronaut makes goodYes, once there has been a Kona coffee farmer in space as well. A local farmer’s son named Ellison S. Onizuka grew up to become a NASA astronaut while picking coffee cherries for his family after school. Guess he was made of the ‘right stuff’. Sadly he perished with his crew in the 1986 Challenger disaster on his second flight into space. There’s a museum dedicated to the little ‘Big Island’ boy-that-could at our Kona airport. When at our airport, take the time to stop by there; it’s really nicely done. You can’t believe what an inspiration this man has become to the local kids and how teachers and locals uphold his image and achievement. Somehow we think he was looking forward very much to having his first Kona coffee in orbit after takeoff and looking down onto the vast Pacific with his island home floating in the midst of it. Even trying to make out the green coffee fields of his parents and grand parents, early Japanese immigrants, here in Kealakekua.

Kona coffee is truly an out-of-this-world-experience, as Astronaut Suni Williams, Mission Log 2007 from the International Space Station describes:

“Opened a new beverage container so I am enjoying Kona coffee from Hawaii with cream and sugar. Hmmm. I was really surprised to see the CREAMY coffee in there. I think they [Houston] saw that nasty grimace I gave every morning choking down plain old black coffee – I’m only half a sailor…”

The NASA STANDARDS, FOOD, AND SPECIFICATIONS BOOK explains to the space traveller with detailed instructions of how to prep the perfect Kona coffee in space:
Page 447: Processing of Kona Coffee
Page 448: Processing of Kona Coffee w/Sugar
Page 449: Processing of Kona Coffee w/Artificial Sweetener & Nondairy Creamer

Therefore one should not assume that just being able to fly a space craft would make you automatically a master in making a cup of Kona coffee, right?

Yes, once there has been a Kona coffee farmer in space as well. A local farmer’s son named Ellison S. Onizuka grew up to become a NASA astronaut while picking coffee cherries for his family after school. Guess he was made of the ‘right stuff’. Sadly he perished with his crew in the 1986 Challenger…