Joe Alban is your average Joe. He traveled to Hawaii, fell in love with his wife, met a wild dolphin, and planted a coffee garden. Now he makes the richest, most progressive Kona Coffee on the islands. This is the legendary story of how Joe became Kona Joe:
Once upon a time a handsome young man walked on the beach alone. He thought of many things, but mostly he thought of how wonderful the beach was and how nice the sound of the surf was to his ears.
As he thought of many things he wondered what it would be like to live more simply. To live closer to nature and maybe grow a garden. Suddenly he heard a voice from nowhere tell him to just go ahead and follow his heart. Joe looked around quite confused when suddenly a dolphin leaped from a wave and shouted to him.
He invited Joe to play with him in the waves where they talked of many things. Joe came to see the dolphin every day just before sunset, and they surfed together when no one was around. So Joe stayed on the island and planted coffee.
One evening, Joe came to the beach to meet his dolphin friend when he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen sitting on a rock as the full moon rose. He knew right there and then that this was the woman to share his dream with.
Deepa-Tiare is a wonderful artist and paints the most beautiful paintings. She loves to paint growing and living things. Their house is filled with a virtual garden of her paintings.
Together they nurtured their garden and it grew and grew as did their love for each other. Of course they are married now and endeavor to live life happily ever after.
For seven years, I was happily married to Joe Alban, an orthopedic surgeon, when one day in 1994, I found myself owning a Kona coffee farm with him. I knew he had been dreaming of owning a coffee farm in the Kona district, but little did I know how completely it would change my life.
Life before the farm had been a leisure: living in a beach house, waking up whenever, painting as a self-taught local Hawaiian artist, and traveling around the world. I guess I never paid attention whether it was a Tuesday or a Friday. Then, overnight, here at our 20-acre farm where the world's first trellis coffee is produced, suddenly every day became a Monday!
So there went my late morning beauty sleep... Previously, my husband would awake at 3am to answer calls from the local emergency rooms. Now I awake at 3am to answer calls from east coast buyers who think, if it's 9am in New York it must be 9am at the other end of the telephone. My everyday clothing changed from high heels and designer gowns to denim jeans, t-shirts and mismatched socks. My exercise regimen has also taken a different path on the farm. I was envious of mainland wives with personal fitness trainers, so I found my own farmer’s brand of personal-trainer… four legged trainers: Peaberry, our adorable miniature donkey and Mila, Tiare, and Ikaika, our canine pets. Twenty-four hour fitness no longer requires a membership, now it's just another of my daily duties as I chase our dear pets around the farm!
Being in charge of sales, marketing, and overall administration, my day starts with a million things on my to do list: follow up on orders, communicate with stores, work with our twenty-two employees, and constantly put out fires. Most of the time I feel like a truck ran over me at least once before the end of the day. Then the next morning, while enjoying breakfast on the lanai I see our beautiful coffee trees on a gentle slope over-looking the painted Kona Coast, I turn toward my husband, see the twinkle in his eye, and my weariness somehow melts away.
Amidst all the challenges of owning a business producing one of the world's most precious agricultural commodities, the rewards are great. I simply cannot put a monetary value on the experiences and friendship I continue to cultivate with the people I meet. From the friends who also find themselves in this wonderful predicament, to the thousands who have come to love Kona Coffee, life is short but the coffee is oh so wonderful.