Our Story

The History of Monarch Coffee Farm

Aloha! We are Greg and Susy Stille and we have spent thirty-two years falling in love with the Hawaiian Islands before we began this great adventure that has led us to Monarch Coffee. After years of visiting the Islands for the beaches and mai-tais, we decided to make the Island our home. We started with a small, two acre farm, where we started with just a few coffee trees.

We began with that first small farm—picking the cherries, hand pulping, milling, drying, and dabbling in some roasting in small batches. Through those early experiences, we started learning all about coffee and the process that goes into making that perfect cup.

Quickly our knowledge expanded—and so did we! We got the hang of the coffee making process and grew into a larger farm on the Big Island, which we now know as Monarch Coffee.

Monarch Coffee is a labor of love—our love of the Islands and the Hawaiian culture, our love of the process, and our love of producing a delicious cup of coffee that we can’t wait to share with you!

Susy Stille planting keiki (baby) Pacamara trees May 2018
Founders Greg and Susy Stille featured in Edibles Hawaiian Magazine
Processing Gesha pulped washed coffee

Our Farm

Monarch Coffee is located on the cool slopes of Hualālai. This famous, twenty-mile stretch of land is the only place in the United States where authentic, gourmet 100% Kona coffee is grown and cultivated. We’re located in the Kona District and rural community of Holualoa, a slow-paced town that has maintained all the richness of Old Hawaii. The beautiful morning sun shines brightly on our farm yet we are protected from the full tropical heat of Kona thanks to the afternoon clouds that are blown in off the mountains. This unique cloud cover provides cool shade and a unique climate for our fruit to grow with the full advantage of sunny tropical mornings and cool, misty afternoons in nutrient rich volcanic soil.

After settling in on the farm, we also discovered that the area is home to Monarch butterflies—and that’s how we landed on our name! Since then, we have developed outcroppings of milkweed to attract more of the monarchs, as well as native mamaki to draw the Kamehameha butterflies as well. Having pollinators like the butterflies or our 28 bee hives isn’t necessary for the coffee crop directly, but we believe that having a healthy ecosystem for all our plants and crops is the best way to maintain a sustainable farm across the board.

So what does this specific location mean for your morning cup of coffee? While there is coffee grown throughout the Islands, 100% Kona coffee only comes from the Big Island’s twenty-mile stretch of Kona District. The perfect growing conditions and unique ways of the processing of the beans from plant to cup delivers a delicious final cup of coffee with such a flavor that it should be enjoyed and savored.

The production of Kona coffee is an art form, part of a 200 year old tradition of making coffee in this region. Differentiating between “Hawaiian” coffee and “100% Kona” coffee at a glance isn’t always easy, but take your first sip of the real deal and you’ll quickly understand why 100% Kona coffee is famous across the world. The delicate but flavorful taste and rich aroma will set it apart from the crowd every time.

Our Family

We are an Ohana operation—it’s all hands on deck here! We run the farm with help from our daughter and son-in-law, Abby and Sal Munoz. From hand-picking to sustainable farming practices, you’ll find that the majority of the farming and processing is done by the family.

We all love the rich heritage of coffee growing and processing here on the Islands, and we love being involved in the process at every step—from seed to cup.

Our Farm Practices

When we started Monarch Coffee, we knew from the get-go that we wanted to establish the farm using sustainable practices. We’re proud to be practicing sustainable farming methods in everything that we do. So what does that mean exactly?

For us, sustainability means working with the land, managing the natural resources it provides, and doing everything we can to keep the ecosystem we are a part of healthy and happy. Some of the methods we use toward that goal include:

  • Cover crops planted around our hillsides to prevent erosion, as well as to help naturally break down tough volcanic rock in the soil—crops like melons, radishes, and habanero peppers grow well in the climate, and their bright colors also attract the butterflies and hummingbirds. We love having plants that work double-duty!
  • Avocados, citrus trees, and coming soon-cacao all help to create a well-rounded environment. They bring biodiversity amidst the coffee trees, and also attract bees! Happy bees are a sign of a healthy farm.
  • We work hard to manage our water usage well. Most of our crops are watered primarily by natural rainfall—letting nature take the lead! When additional water is needed, we use water harvested from a rainwater collection system. We also recycle the water from our fermentation tanks into irrigation.
  • We don’t use any harmful chemicals or pesticides on the farm. Not only do we want to keep our coffee free of chemicals, we want to protect the land around us from anything that might leech into the rich volcanic soil and out through our waterways.
  • We use our coffee pulp for compost, which eventually makes its way back out to the coffee trees in a special fertilizer mix so that no part of the coffee goes to waste.
  • All of our coffee is hand-picked—no machinery involved!

Our commitment to sustainability comes from a marriage of modern sensibilities and ancient tradition. Thanks to modern environmental practices, we know how bad toxic chemicals can be for the ecosystem and anyone consuming them. But taking care of the land you work on isn’t a new idea—it’s a concept that is deeply embedded in Hawaiian culture! It’s our aim to be good stewards of our piece of the Island—and to give back as much as we take.

Greg and Susy Stille receiving Hawaii State Cupping Competition award for their Grand Champion Coffee at the Hawaii Coffee Associations annual conference held in Kauai Hawaii, 2018
Hawaii State Cupping Competition 1st place Kona District award at the Hawaii Coffee Associations annual conference held in Kauai Hawaii, 2018
Sal Munoz and Greg Stille proudly accept their grand champion award.
Hawaii State Cupping Competition 3rd place Kona District award at the Hawaii Coffee Associations annual conference held in Kauai Hawaii, 2018

Our Award Winning Gesha Coffee

Hawaii Coffee Association’s Annual Coffee conference was held this year in Kauai, Hawaii in July where Monarch coffee was recognized for their outstanding coffee. Over 100 coffee farms from all over the Islands submit their coffee for The Cupping Competition where coffee is graded and cupped by industry professionals. This was the first year that we participated in with our Gesha Coffee.

Monarch Coffee won the Grand Champion First Place overall with our Geisha washed Kona Coffee and 3rd place overall for our Geisha Pulp Natural Kona Coffee at the 2018 State of Hawaii Cupping Competition.

We received these awards with excitement and humility as we return to the farm for a new harvest.

Would you like to know more?
Then get in touch, now!