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HealthIamA 10 year old with a rare neuromuscular disease. Call me Toomee, and AMA!

Jan 30th 2017 by caskethopper • 14 Questions • 3474 Points

I am founder and CEO of RealVNC, a UK software engineering company which was set up by the inventors of remote access software. RealVNC's technology gives computer, smartphone and other device users the power to 'take over' another device remotely from anywhere in the world. This means workers and businesses can share screens and solve each other's problems without having to leave their own desk.

In 2013, RealVNC won the UK's premier engineering prize, the Royal Academy of Engineering's MacRobert Award, known for recognising influential technology. VNC technology is now used on over a billion devices worldwide, and the protocol used by VNC is an official part of the Internet.

Proof 1: https://twitter.com/RealVNC/status/823578312392003586 Proof 2: https://www.realvnc.com/company-profile/andy-harter/ Proof 3: http://www.raeng.org.uk/news/news-releases/2013/July/software-company-realvnc-wins-uks-premier-prize Proof 4: http://www.raeng.org.uk/grants-and-prizes/prizes-and-medals/other-awards/the-macrobert-award Proof 5: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6143

Q:

hey toomee, what's your favorite joke?

A:

What kind of reactions did you get from friends and family? Any notable stories?

How many people work your farm? Do you have a photogenic burro?

Have you considered some sort of rental accommodation on site? Have you had an influx of friends and family wanting to visit?


Q:

did you make eye contact with him?

A:

Hi Andy - Did you ever pay for WinRAR in your lifetime?


Q:

He said his favorite joke is, "Your momma is so ugly she made the illuminati shut its eye."

Video Response: https://youtu.be/AJnR1P-mXDE

A:

What kind of reactions did you get

A lot of surprise and some envy. Most people were really supportive and congratulated us for making the change. Our immediate families were probably the most worried because they didn't want us to lose all of our savings doing something stupid.

How many people work your farm?

My husband and I are the only full time employees but we do have a couple of work traders who work about 10 hours a week in exchange for living in our employee housing (individual rooms but with a shared bathroom and kitchen).

Do you have a photogenic burro?

I wish! I am dying to get a donkey because they are so cute. But my husband says it would be a waste of money. We do have some really cute goats though.

Have you considered some sort of rental accommodation on site? Have you had an influx of friends and family wanting to visit?

No Air BnB set up or anything like that but we do have an area where pickers can rent during the picking season. And yes tons of friends and family have come to visit. We love having visitors because our island is pretty rural and it can be nice to break things up.


Q:

He made eye contact with me, and with the spine.

A:

No, I use 7-zip ;-)


Q:

This is so much better than I could have ever imagined

A:

My family vacationed out there a few times. Lovely space. We spoke with another Coffee farmer who mentioned this work trade concept, and my daughter was intrigued. Where can we find out more what other places offer similar circumstance on the islands? Is there a posting forum?


Q:

Did it send chills down his sp.......wait, he doesn't have one.

A:

This will determine how guilty I feel for the rest of my life.


Q:

He's spent some time practicing his "Your Momma" game.

A:

Yeah check out WwoofUSA and Wwoofhawaii. That's where we originally got people. The work traders we have now are from just posting on facebook - they are much more long term people though and are all living here indefinitely and not just for a couple weeks/months.


Q:

He looked confused, and then mildly alarmed.

A:

the next hardest thing is dealing with keyboards


Q:

What is your favorite food?

Is there any gross food your dad makes and he needs to stop?

A:

Assuming that you took a pay cut, at least at the beginning, can you tell us what makes it worth it?

Thanks.


Q:

Who would make a better chief diplomat than Rex T?

A:

How long was RealVNC in development before the first version was 'good to go'?

(It seems to have always been around, but it'd be great to know how much went on 'behind the scenes' before we'd heard of it!)


Q:

He said his favorite food was ribeye steaks. He said that his dad does not make gross food, but he'd appreciate if his mom stopped making fish tacos.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/EKG7chP8a3o

A:

Yes we both took a huge paycut and we will probably never replace that with farming. But what were we really working for in Chicago? We were saving to buy a house (which we now have) and working until we could take our next vacation to a place like Hawaii (where we now live). It's not that we have EVERYTHING we could want (I would LOVE a pool), but I am a lot more fulfilled than I was in Chicago.


Q:

The plastic spine I held up.

A:

VNC started life inside a research lab back in 93/94. we used it a lot internally and developed it quite extensively before deciding to give it to the world in 1998... the rest is history!


Q:

Dad looks like Macklemore.

A:

[deleted]


Q:

How much does the Climate warming/cooling/chaos lobby pay you?

A:

How long was RealVNC in development before the first version was 'good to go'?

(It seems to have always been around, but it'd be great to know how much went on 'behind the scenes' before we'd heard of it!)


Q:

I've heard that a lot.

A:

I lived right by the United Center for awhile (not the best neighborhood but what I could afford at the time) and then when I moved in with my now-husband we lived in Old Town. And yeah Chicago really is the best. I miss it all the time.


Q:

what's the chaos lobby?

A:

One of the most creative was in what was perhaps the worlds first fully functional smartphone in 1999, a project which I was responsible for too! Check it out here:

http://imgur.com/a/1MJtI


Q:

Hi Toomee! My question is: if you were elected king of planet earth, what is the first thing you would do?

A:

[deleted]


Q:

They try to control entropy.

A:

Because your ISP hadn't changed anything the first time you did it. Once they've reassigned your MAC/DNS/IP or whatever was wrong, the easiest way to pick up the change is to reboot.


Q:

Ok, so this one threw him off for a minute. I guess the idea of all that power had him confused about what to do first, but he said his first act would be to create an amusement park and name it Toomeeland.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/QM9v8E0XE4w

A:

Dude I know. We just rented but definitely could not afford to buy there.


Q:

HA! Spine troll in training right here.

A:

The idea for the business came much later in 2002, after we had made the software freely available under an open source license in 1998. We founded the company with cash from merchandising and donations - we pioneered the crowdfunding idea before it was even called that, which didn't happen until 2006!


Q:

Why would you inject politics into this thread, I'm feeling a comment war coming (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)

A:

Mahalo for the AMA

Which varieties do you grow?

What kind of roaster are you using?

Do you plan to offer single varieties or your peaberry solo in the future?

Do you grow any 'Awa?


Q:

What can I do to help?

A:

Had you played with stuff like Timbuktu - which does similar things but was developed in the late 1980s for Mac?


Q:

To be fair, the little guy did make a reference to it, but generally speaking I figure we've got enough problems in our immediate vicinity without going out to look for political arguments. He's got his own opinions, though.

A:

Which varieties do you grow?

We grow almost all Arabica (Kona Typica specifically). We have about 10 trees of a hybrid called Kona Passion as a test and we may plant more of those because they are turing out great.

What kind of roaster are you using?

I roast on a Sonofresco. It's a really nice roaster for small batches.

Do you plan to offer single varieties or your peaberry solo in the future?

Yes! I actually just got that graded out a couple weeks ago for the first time so we now have about 50lbs of it that we can sell this year. I am just waiting for the peaberry stamp to come in the mail that I ordered for our labels and then it will be added to the website for purchase!

Do you grow any 'Awa?

No we don't, mostly because even though the effects are cool I think it tastes like mud.


Q:

Thanks for asking! You should resist in the way that feels right to you. On Tillerson, I would say, call your senators and tell them to vote no. On policies/laws/action that you object to, call your senators and your congressman and explain that you oppose it. In general, you can get involved in your community on almost any issue important to you - environmental justice, racial justice, immigration, fracking, money in politics, etc. Here's a great way to plug in: https://greenwire.greenpeace.org/usa/en/

A:

we knew of it but our vision and philosophy was much broader particularly because we were using windows, linux, mac and proprietary embedded display systems in the lab


Q:

Hey! Toomee, how do other kids feel about your condition?

Also, to the parents: How did you feel when they were diagnosed?

A:

I hope this isn't prying too much, but what did it take for you to get started? I've always had a dream to do something similar. Was it very risky? Did you need loans etc, or start with savings? (Trying to figure out what it would take to start myself).


Q:

Wow. Huge fan.

Two questions:

1) if you had to go on a date with a sitting republican member of either the house or senate, who would you choose?

2) would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck?

A:

What are some of the popular names using this technology and what do you think is the next big thing in your field?

Bonus question: Does 'taking over' devices shown in movies come remotely close to what real-life hackers can do? If so, how?

Thank you.


Q:

He said that other kids accuse him of faking his condition. He uses an electric wheelchair for school, usually for when he has to walk longer distances, and I guess they think that since he can walk he must be faking.

He also said that some of the kids in his class try to help him carry things.

As for us, I could write a book about how it feels to have your son diagnosed. In a sense, you go through the entire grieving process, the same as you would if you had lost your child, because in a sense you have. You've lost the child you thought you had, if that makes sense.

At the same time, you have to try to keep it together, because your kids need you to be the parent. As a dad, you want to try and fix it, but you can't. I could go on and on, but the TLDR is that it feels bad, man.

I'll also say that it puts a lot of strain on your relationship. Divorce seems to be common with a lot of the other parents we've met, with the dad checking out pretty often. I don't know what the stats are, but I seem to remember that it's not just my anecdotal experience.

Last thing is that you get pushed into social situations with people who you lack any common ground with aside from your child's diagnosis. It feels like a lot of the other families are trying to put on this saintly front, and I don't know, maybe they just have their shit together better than we do, but I always suspect they're faking it.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/qkh962IsVkM

A:

We started with a pretty sizable amount of savings but we did get a mortgage (the mortgage process is tricky with a farm but do-able especially because there are farm service agencies to help you).

If you are wanting to come to Hawaii, it is much cheaper to buy a leasehold than a fee simple property. You are supposed to commercially farm your leasehold though so unless you plan to do that, I wouldn't consider one.

If you want to start a farm yourself, I would recommend visiting the place you want to farm (if that is HI, then come here) and meet with local farmers! The farm bureau in the area you are looking at should have some great resources also the Farm Service Agency is great (at least in Hawaii) and has all the info on grants and special loans for beginning farmers.

Also, idk if you are a woman or a minority, but there are even better FSA loans if you are. Good luck!


Q:

1) whoever speaks up first to either a) Reject Rex or b) overturn this executive order on immigration (so I'm probably safe)

2) getting this one out of the way early. I'm pretty short so, 100 duck sized horses, I might have a chance.

A:

Bonus answer: no, not really. the real world is always far more complex than the few minutes that filmmakers have to depict a scene.


Q:

Do you have any other friends with DMD?

I have DMD aswell, I'm 22 and have been with my girlfriend for 6 years. Anything is possible and your a true inspiration bud! If you ever need anyone to talk to you can message me! I'm in NC too, if you ever wanna meet id love to.

Thank you for sharing your story and answers!

A:

My wife and I are constantly dreaming of moving to hawaii and growing our own food, and living simpler. We will actually be on the big island at the end of april. Part of our trip will be spent right up the hill from two step (which I know is coffee country) Could I send you a PM and maybe set up a time where we could come check out your operation? I would love to pick your brain about leasehold land, growing seasons, etc.


Q:

I'd give the odds to McCain.

A:

Also generally less exciting!


Q:

He said not really. He knows a few kids that he has met once or twice, but they haven't really hung out.

Toomee pretty much gets along with anybody. He hasn't been to the MDA summer camp, but we're planning on sending him this summer. Hopefully Lucas (the local MDA coordinator) sees this, because he's been after us to send him for a few years now.

We've tried befriending some of the families around here but I don't know, just didn't seem to click. Like I alluded to in another post, it's hard when you don't have anything in common but a disease. Not giving up on it, though.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/yLkR0xkDNys

A:

Yes absolutely! We're just up the hill from there. Shoot me a PM or feel free to email me (contact info is on our site).


Q:

Unfortunately, he is on record supporting Tillerson already. If he takes it back, I'll reconsider.

A:

Every industry, every sector, government, education - fortune 500 last time we looked. It's everyone from Disney to Phillips, Intel to NASA, Google to Honda.


Q:

If you had to create a superhero what 3 powers would you give him?and what would you name him?

A:

answer the money question for fark's sake. break it down. farm price. equipment, etc. startup costs. monthly expenses. ballpark. no one's judging, get over it. please. jeebus why is everyone so avoidant of money questions.


Q:

Hey there, fellow Greenpeacer! Loved the NVDA. You have some gut! And a spine! My question is: how did you think of it?

A:

That's sounds good, but how does the pricing work out for that? Say we have 100,000 end users, but on one day our support team only need to connect to <50 systems throughout the day to troubleshoot, probably <4 running at the same time.

Also can you configure it just to show our application rather than the whole desktop, and restrict connections only from our IP address for safety? I guess we'd set it up as requiring them to launch it from within a menu.


Q:

He said his three powers would be the ability to summon the undead, regeneration, and claws. I asked if he was basically describing a kind of necromancer version of wolverine, and he said yes.

He would name his superhero "The Nightmare."

Vid Response: https://youtu.be/UAwlv5H-0Uk

A:

Okay our farm price was slightly over a million. However that included a house and barn, catchment tanks and all 20 acres was fenced. So the land itself I would guess would have been around 500k. We own it in fee simple which makes it a lot more expensive than leasehold land.

Startup costs were high. We didn't buy that much equipment but the trees were approx $10 each and we have over 3000 (8 acres planted). We have a tractor now but that has a payment plan. One of the biggest costs of startup was grubbing the land (bulldozing the existing grasses and shrubs - we left the trees) which IIRC was around 5k/acre. We also had to install a ton of erosion controls, plant a cover crop, get all our permits in order etc. Startup costs were certainly over 6 figures.


Q:

Thank you! It was not the worst reason to work late. I don't think we were the first ones to call Rubio (or any of the GOP senators) spineless, but we did have a spine and proximity to the Hill, so...

A:

that's getting a bit salesy - happy to have someone talk to you about this. pm me your e-mail.


Q:

Who's your favourite superhero? And if you were to have a super power of your choice, what would it be and what would you use it for?

A:

Thank you! Very informative.

Interesting you managed to own the land outright versus the usual 30 year leaseholds in the area. Oftentimes there are chunks of land that require Hawaiian ethnicity to own the land or get the leasehold. Mind shedding light on what you had to do to own the land outright versus the usual leasehold? Just ask and pay?


Q:

What's more effective right now: calls/emails or trolling? Also, does Marco know he's a lapdog for a petty tyrant with a size complex?

A:

How can I convince my office to switch from RDP to VNC? VNC's cross-platform compatibility is big for me, and on a philosophical level its standardized, open nature is important, but I need stronger arguments than these!


Q:

He said he has two favorites: Deadpool and Batman.

If he could pick a superpower, it would be regeneration. He would use it to avoid getting killed. Still unknown: How often people are trying to kill him.

Video response: https://youtu.be/CmIkllejx5k

A:

Land here is already set aside as being "leashold" land or fee simple land. The land we wanted was already listed as fee simple in the regular MLS. We didn't do anything special just bought it like anyone would through a realtor.


Q:

Trolling was certainly the most effective for my soul. So I would never discourage it. That said, 1 call or in-person visit is worth about 100 emails. So keep calling. Staff has to report it to their boss. And if their bosses don't listen, you vote them out next election.

A:

I think the cross-platform argument should be persuasive, not just for variety and interconnectivity between platforma, but also because it gives you some degree of future-proofing. Our recent move to cloud mediated connections make VNC preferable if you need to connect from outside the LAN. Performance has been used as an argument for RDP in the past, but with faster networks and high performance endpoints, VNC can actually perform better...


Q:

My older brother had Duchenne's. The treatments he received in the 1980's and 1990's probably pale in comparison with what is available now. He was, and remains, a tremendous influence on me, and I think of him daily.

One of the things that helped him persevere was setting goals. He completed a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering (not the easiest field of study for someone with limited mobility), was active in his fraternity, and worked in an office after graduation.

My question for Toomee is, what's your next goal?

A:

Have you guys had any difficulties being accepted by locals?


Q:

Also, what was the airport like last night?

A:

Also - with VNC you can share the remote screen with the user (rather than kicking them out of the session).


Q:

He's starting to warm up to the whole "talking to the internet thing." This was a tough question for him, though. He had been talking about taking some kind of self-defense classes recently, which I think was prompted by some adaptive self defense videos I showed him, but he might have moved on from that.

His final answer was that he would like to go to the local "School of Rock" with his older sister and sing in the band.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/8U5W-FPXeoE

He didn't say this, but I wanted to say that your brother's story is pretty inspirational. I don't know if anyone else would understand how big of an accomplishment that would be, given the disability and especially the time frame you're talking about, but I do.

A:

I think there is a lot of racism towards outsiders in Hawaii but on our island at least that is focused on the other side of the island (Hilo side). But also, I think a lot of that centers on dislike of snowbirds who drive up housing costs and do not even contribute to our economy 6 months out of the year. I can tell you it is really hard for farmers/restaurants etc. to make money during the summer which is off-season. Personally I haven't experienced many problems like that but also I try to be respectful of locals, of the land and supportive of "local" issues like schooling etc even though we don't have any kids.


Q:

Answered in another thread:

By last evening, things weren't chaotic because lawyers weren't allowed to see detainees and CBP still refused to speak to us or the elected officials that came to the airport. Not lawyers could do while CBP is still violating the court order and information on those detained and deported is not yet available. We are working our hardest to get that information!

A:

good point, rdp implementations don't allow shared or collaborative sessions AFAIK. Collaboration, and the training and educating opportunities are a big thing for many people!


Q:

Hey Toomee, what kind of music do you like to listen to? Btw, nice Adicts shirt, Toomee's Dad.

A:

Hey! I've found this diving on the internet. What do you think of making flour from the cherries?

https://youtu.be/1z34kIq2BWk


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Did you patent the technology?


Q:

Word! The little dude actually got me the adicts shirt for xmas. I mean, he used my money to buy it, but he picked it out.

He went on for a bit. He likes punk, pop-punk, emo, pop, 80's, 90's, grunge, electronic, thrash. To be honest, he tends to like whatever his older sister and I expose him to. I can't think of too much he actively dislikes.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/XnOgnZYu6nI

A:

I know of one other farm here doing it and it seems pretty cool but honestly such a pain that I probably wouldn't do it. In a zombie apocalypse situation though, that is definitely a good thing to know about lol.


Q:

The Capitol Police who saw it go through the x-ray at the entrance asked me the same thing. I'm going to say to you the same thing I said to them: where would I get a real human spine?? /s (it's plastic. but very lifelike.)

A:

The core protocol is open, published and unpatented. There are elements of RealVNC applications, including some proprietary encoding algorithms that are patented.


Q:

What is your favorite comic book movie? Also now that you have steam, what's your favorite game to play on there?

A:

Neeeeaaaaat!

Do you grow other foods for yourself in the farm or just the coffee?

Is this kind of a retirement fun thing for you guys, or an active and goal-oriented moneymaking thing?

Do you sell your coffee as a single sourced bean product or is it combined with other farms' beans for sale?

I haven't looked at the website yet, not sure if it might answer that last question...


Q:

What was the best response you've gotten from your spine trolling?

A:

Since many vendor-specific implementations of VNC have H.264 as one of the compression standards they support, are there any plans to make this part of the standard?


Q:

He said his favorite comic book movie was Guardians of the Galaxy, and his favorite steam game was Left 4 Dead 2.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/36ZHWyp4D5E

A:

Do you grow other foods for yourself in the farm or just the coffee?

Yes we grow tons of other food - mostly vegetables but we raise goats for milk and meat, chickens for eggs and meat and sometimes trap wild boar that is in the coffee field for meat.

Is this kind of a retirement fun thing for you guys, or an active and goal-oriented moneymaking thing?

Haha not at all a retirement thing. I am only 30! We are trying to make a living doing this but we are still fairly new and our coffee isn't quite old enough to be producing enough for us to turn a profit just on that. We also do events, have a CSA and run a local homebrew supply shop out of our farm to suppliment our income from the coffee.

Do you sell your coffee as a single sourced bean product or is it combined with other farms' beans for sale?

We only sell coffee from our farm. We do sell green to a couple roasters who roast it and sell it under their label, but the majority of our coffee we sell ourselves under our label.


Q:

Has to be this, which arrived in the mail: http://imgur.com/a/dX46u

A:

We support H.264 (audio/video mpeg 4 standard for those who aren't sure what it means!) in some of our SDK products aimed at markets where there is hardware encode/decode. We're considering the wider application of it more generally across our product offerings for the 2017 roadmap.


Q:

wow 10 years old and he's playing l4d.. I'm 18 and am still sometimes freaked out by this game even though it isn't as scary as other games are

A:

Reply to THEIR comment, not mine, or they won't see it.


Q:

In your opinion, how effective is a viral photo/video in bringing about actual change? My worry is that this was a Buzzfeed laugh of the day and no more. But my hope is that Marco Rubio is stewing and plotting for the day when he will rise up and say, "Let's dispel with this fiction that Marco Rubio doesn't have a backbone..."

A:

Will that be part of an upcoming update to the RFB protocol specification?


Q:

I tend to let him take the lead on what kind of content he is comfortable with, with some exceptions. He does scream when he shoots the witch, but then he turns around and shoots every witch he finds, so obviously it's not bothering him that much.

A:

Usually good advice but I am just reading through the thread to make sure I don't miss anyone.


Q:

Us too. Trolling is fun but I think you effectively answered your question. Rest assured, carrying a spine around is not all we're doing.

A:

We're still thinking about this. It can, and has been, done in a way which doesn't require protocol changes. There may be arguments for something more tightly coupled.


Q:

Thanks for doing this, I admire your courage Toomee! What kinds of activities does he do for physical therapy? And as a therapist, what can I do to to make your time more enjoyable?

A:

Reply to THEIR comment, not mine, or they won't see it.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Thanks! He said he does some activities with a beach ball with his physical therapist. He also stretches his hands and does some other stretches for his legs. I know he usually works his hamstrings, calves, and t-bands pretty good. We also stretch his legs before bed at night most of the time.

I'll post the video response for the second question. The short version is that he thinks it's kind of boring, so find a way to make it entertaining.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/1H9pmHG95DQ


Q:

Website is www.Sunshowercoffee.com and coupon up in the top - 15% off with code "reddit."

A:

EDIT: "He said AMA" - I'm a woman.

In the spirit of dialogue with our critics, let me answer this. Just to be clear, George Soros doesn't pay me, our incredibly dedicated and generous supporters do.

Now, I volunteered at the airport last night, a weekend, on my own time. Not paid at all. Not for my job.

It is my job to hold government accountable for decisions that I think will harm people and the planet. But I would have done it for free.


Q:

Having also grown up in hospitals, do you have a favorite nurse/hospital worker and why?

A:

Hi there! Hope you see this when you wake up. We're a couple in our 30's in a big city and are considering giving up the corporate life for something like what you've done. What's a typical day like for you managing the farm? In the course of a year, is there an off-season or time when you leave to visit family or take vacations? Do you work the farm yourself or do you hire help?

Finally, have you visited the [vanilla farm](www.hawaiianvanilla.com)? I did on my last visit and thought it was a really cool family operation.

Mahalo


Q:

Are you thinking of following any other GOP politicians sans spine?

A:

He said his favorites are Dr. Wong (neurologist at Cincinnati Children's hospital) and Scott (Physical Therapist at the MDA clinic in Charlotte).

Video Response: https://youtu.be/2MRtPdnsnog


Q:

Our days really vary! We wake up usually around 7 and to-work around 830 or 9. Not every day is spent working outside - Doug likes to do a one on one off if possible just because it is really tiring doing manual labor. I usually start by doing things on our website, social media, filling orders etc. in the morning because that makes most sense with the time zones to the US. Then in the afternoon I work on projects in the garden or wherever. We are in dry season right now so a fair bit of my time is spent irrigating and hand watering the gardens around our house.

There isnt really an "off season" for us but I guess summer is the easiest time to leave because we don't have any harvesting going on then. We do work the farm ourselves but we hire a lot of help when we need it - especially for picking.

I haven't visited that vanilla farm but we did visit one when we first moved here. I LOVE local vanilla.

A:

That's a popular question around here. We heard someone edited the invertebrates wikipedia page to include Paul Ryan (rightly so). Allegedly protestors also brought spines to Senator Schumer's apartment. So if your version of resisting is bringing spines to GOP politicians, go for it!


Q:

Thanks Toomee, I loved the video response :)

My Fiancé has a question for you too! Do you like punk-rock like dad does?!

A:

Hi and thank you for taking the time. I've got a couple questions for you :). I've been to a couple coffee plantations around Kona, and enjoyed every minute.

  • What spurred your move as professionals in a big (and cold) city to farmers on the relatively sleepy island of Hawaii?

  • Have bore weevils become an issue on your farm? If so, have they had a big impact on your business, and if not, how have you managed to avoid them? They were a common topic on the plantations I visited.

Thank you!


Q:

I live in Oz but the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull certainly lacks a spine.

A:

Yeah, he likes punk rock. I asked him what his favorite punk band was, he said The Clash.

Video response: https://youtu.be/JIfaffo0BcA


Q:

That's cool that you have been to a few farms in Kona! It is a really great area for ag tourism, and there are some really cool tours (especially of historical coffee farms)!

What spurred your move as professionals in a big (and cold) city to farmers on a the relatively sleepy island of Hawaii?

We knew we wanted to move to somewhere with warmer weather and where we could buy a bit of land. I don't think we ever imagined we would be farmers (maybe that we would just have a nice big garden) but when we fell in love with a farm right in the Kona Coffee Belt, the only way to justify the purchase was if we planted coffee and made the property earn a little income for us.

Have bore weevils become an issue on your farm? If so, have they had a big impact on your business, and if not, how have you managed to avoid them?

I assume you mean Coffee Borer Beetles (CBB) and yes, they are a huge issue for us (and I think all other coffee farmers). We are especially hard hit because of our elevation (2400 ft.). Lower elevation coffees have an easier time of it because they have a portion of the year when their trees are totally bare of coffee cherry. At higher elevations, we have the next year's coffee flowering on our top branches before this year's coffee has been harvested at the lower branches which gives the CBB the opportunity to eat our cherry all year round.

They do hurt our business (in that we have less high grade coffee), but there is a fungus that we spray every three weeks on our coffee and it significantly reduces the CBB populations. This year we lost about 5% of our coffee to CBB which really isn't that bad compared to what farms were losing before the bassiana Fungus became available.

A:

You know what to do.


Q:

What do you wanna be when you grow up?

A:

How do you and your husband brew your coffee? (French press, drip machine etc). And finally now that coffee is your career how has it affected your coffee drinking habits both at home and when you are traveling?


Q:

Given the current state of affairs on Earth, would you say we are getting closer to fulfilling the plot depicted in the Matt Damon film Elysium?

A:

He said he wants to be a WWE wrestler when he grows up. His ring name would be Omega.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/W1vpwtxUzuE


Q:

We typically brew our coffee pour over (if we just want one cup) or french press in the morning. We have a bodum insulated french press that I love and we will make it first thing and drink about 12-14 oz each of that. We also have a nice burr grinder which we never had in Chicago but is pretty much essential to good coffee.

When I am traveling in the US I seek out good roasters and always want to try their coffee. The main thing I look for are roasters who are supporting their farmers. You can tell by the price of their coffee and usually their marketing materials. If they can sell coffee for $10 or less a pound, they are not paying producers enough (in my opinion) no matter where in the world it comes from.

When I was in Europe last year I barely drank any coffee because everything was roasted so dark! It is common for coffee to be roasted really dark in Hawaii too but personally I only drink light or medium roasts. Even medium tastes burnt to me now. You can't taste the origin with coffee like that so I just loaded mine up with cream.

A:

I think we're looking at The Day After Tomorrow, considering it's climate change.


Q:

Hey Toomee! Who are your best friends? And what is one thing you would really like to do with your friends in the future?

A:

What percentage of the coffee in a bag must be grown in Kona in order to market it a "Kona Coffee?"


Q:

He said that his best friends are Brian and Malachi. He plays soccer with them at school, and he'd like to hang out and play video games with them but Malachi doesn't like the same kind of games.

I'll add that the friend situation is difficult for him, and I expect it will only get harder in the next few years. I worried a lot about how he would deal with bullies when he first got diagnosed. When I was a kid, bullies were the kids who beat the crap out of you. These days it seems like the bullies are just kind of mean and make fun of you. Also, we recently moved from a suburban area outside of Charlotte to an area closer to downtown, and our younger kids are actually in a Title I school now. That worried us, but the kids in their new school have actually been nicer, more willing to help.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/ljL0-ISgyhE

A:

Legally only 10% must be from Kona and it has to be prime grade or higher. Those are supposed to be labeled "Kona Blend" and say the origins of the other coffees but SO MANY people get away with not doing that. To make sure you are drinking real Kona coffee, it should say "100% Kona Coffee" on the bag.

If it says that it will also be above a certain grade because to protect our brand quality as a region, you are not allowed to use shit coffee, even if it is grown in Kona, and call it Kona. Mediocre coffee can be called "Hawaiian" and worse than that it can't even be called Hawaiian. At the lowest grades people don't even drink it - it gets used it for face scrubs and stuff.


Q:

whats his favourite video game?

A:

Do you guys sell/ship coffee internationally?


Q:

He said WWE 2k17 is his favorite. He likes Titanfall 2 also, but WWE is his favorite.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf8MabH7e0E

A:

Unfortunately no. We do ship to Canada on request but it is $25 shipping so usually no one is interested.


Q:

Hey! Does he play Titanfall 2 on PS4? If so, feel free to add me and I'll play with him if we're ever on at the same time. I have a fun group of friends who play together almost nightly and have a great time.

A:

How much do you pay the people who pick coffee for you? by the hour? by the bushel?


Q:

He plays Titanfall 2 on the PC, mostly so he can play with his older sister and me. We are pretty awful at Titanfall, and sometimes we have to hear crap from the other players, but it's fun so idgaf.

A:

We pay our pickers by the pound. They make $.70/lb and can typically pick around 200lbs in a day on average. In your final pound of coffee from us between $6 and $8 of the cost is picker pay.


Q:

I have a friend who has DMD. He's 30 years old, and his passions are computer programming and music.

What kinds of things do you like to learn about and do for fun?

A:

Sounds like they work in exchange for a place to sleep. I lived in Maui for a time, and found this is quite common on the islands. Google 'WWOOFing' if you want to know more!


Q:

I think he might be tapped. He kind of blanked on this one for a bit, but he likes to watch videos about Science-y stuff and random trivia.

On a side note, it is always so encouraging hearing about adults with DMD living full lives. I remember when he first got diagnosed, everything I read was SO bleak. So, thank you.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/BFNzGNVSG0c

A:

No the people who work-trade for us just help out milking the goats, cleaning the chicken coop etc. They usually don't pick coffee but when they do they get paid just like all of the other pickers.


Q:

Hey toomee! What's your favorite esport and which player do you like?

A:

Hello! I was just on the big island a few weeks ago and visited another Kona coffee farm, mountain thunder, my question is does your coffee differ from theirs at all? and how? also what is the best/ your favorite way to brew Kona coffee!


Q:

He doesn't watch esports. He also got kind of salty during his response because he wasn't happy about the Royal Rumble winner.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/5uPANfAeMeA

A:

Yes our coffee differs a LOT from theirs. Mountain Thunder (while a seller of 100% Kona), does not grow their coffee all from one estate. They buy cherry (or green maybe?) from a bunch of different farms all of whom have different elevations, farming methods, tree varieties, level of care etc. Their coffee could sometimes be great and sometimes (more often) is shit but always it is over roasted.

I think aeropress is a great way to brew Kona but really if you are brewing properly (right temp, right grind etc.) I think any method tastes good. I even had our light roast as espresso which was really unusual but tasty!


Q:

Have you ever heard of the chuckle brothers?

Toomee, to you.

A:

This is so annoying. My wife and I stayed at the sheraton kona resort in 2015, and if we'd known we would've paid a visit!

My question is, do you ship to Europe?


Q:

He said no. I haven't either. After I recorded the response, he started asking if you meant the Chuckie Brothers, like the doll who's your friend to the end. I told him probably not.

Video response:https://youtu.be/ehVtcjPB5PE

A:

We would ship to europe but I have no idea about the customs or shipping cost. If you are willing to pay for the shipping, yeah we would ship!


Q:

Are you aware of this treatment that was recently approved for limited use?

https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2016/09/19/sarepta-wins-dmd-drug-approval/

A:

Was just in Kona over winter break I heard a some people talking about you business but didn't get the chance to check it out while I was in town, congrats though.

What's the average temp and weather conditions up on the mountain?


Q:

Yes. That was Sarepta's exon 51 skipping compound. Something I had to learn when he was diagnosed is that there are a lot of variations in the disease. Exon skipping is the closest thing to a real treatment option that's out there, but they will have to develop a different exon skipping treatment for kids with different mutations, and some kids with DMD can't be treated with exon skipping at all.

There's an article here that goes into some detail on reading frames: http://www.exonskipping.nl/reading-frame/

Without trying to talk above my level of expertise too much, I can say that his mutation would be treatable with an Exon 55 skipping compound. Sarepta has something in pre-clinical, but there's no word on when or if that would go to trial. Prosensa was working on something with Glaxo-Smith Kline a few years ago, but something happened and GSK cut ties, so I don't know what's going to happen with their treatment.

The real trick is keeping him ambulatory until the treatments go to trial. The pharmaceutical industry has to be able to demonstrate improvement in some standard tests, otherwise the FDA will crap on the treatment and the stock-holders will flush them down the drown. So, kids who are further along the decline get pushed to the side so that they don't trash the results.

I try to stay on top of treatments as much as I can, without obsessing. I've got some scripts that poll the clinicaltrials.gov site and let me know when stuff changes, and I poke at it every so often to see what's turned up.

A:

You heard about our business! That's great! Because we're new we don't have much of a following built up. Average temp is right about 70 - it's 67 right now. The weather here is truly perfect as far as temp. Winter is dry season and summer is wet. It rains basically every day over the summer.


Q:

Do you play minecraft or roblox?

A:

Hello! I hope you're still responding to questions as I'd love to know a bit more about what you do. I co-founded a roastery based in Southern California, and one of the big interests for me is sourcing. I'm fascinated by the work that goes into it and we're so fortunate to be able to buy coffee from our friends, and involve them in projects that we're excited about. So what I want to know from you, as an American producer is this:

What is the future of American coffee production? Where do you feel it will be headed, and how will you create a sustainable situation for yourself?

I ask because one of the big things stopping Hawaiian coffee (and a lot of coffee around the world) from getting big, in my opinion, is cost. We're fortunate to have some of the coffees that we have, that are (relatively) expensive but go a long way towards helping the people who produce it. But American coffee, due to labor and agriculture regulations, will never be that cheap. That makes it a challenge for you, as a producer, to get the attention of roasters, because the opportunity just isn't there (so many people I know roast Panama geisha lots and are very fortunate to barely break even on them).

So I'd love to hear the thoughts on that. Is it a huge goal for you to turn it into a massive growing operation? Or do you like where you are, and don't plan on making it bigger? And if so, how do you create a sustainable situation that allows you to maintain that with the creeping popularity of coffee elsewhere?

Thanks! Looking forward to (hopefully) hearing your thoughts!


Q:

He's played minecraft before. He said he didn't play roblox because I'm usually pretty strict about games where the kids are chatting with strangers on the internet. Which is kind of ironic, I guess.

Video Response: Mic Broke :(

A:

Yep I am still here!

That is awesome that you are a professional roaster and you care about sourcing! Personally I think that it is roasters (even more than the consumers) - and how they educate their customers - who will shape how the coffee industry moves going forward.

What is the future of American coffee production? Where do you feel it will be headed, and how will you create a sustainable situation for yourself?

So to clarify, by American coffee production, you mean American coffee growing right? Coffee is really only grown in Hawaii (although I did hear that UC Davis is trying to do some test trees) which makes it a little easier to sum-up.

I think Hawaiian coffee is actually in an okay place. We have the CBB which has been hard for our industry, but we are fighting it and most farms have been pretty successful in mitigating losses. We still have a ton of people around the world who seek out Hawaiian coffees - particularly in Japan - and I know a lot of farms that sell ALL of their coffee as green to Japan. We don't do that because I haven't wanted to work with a distributor and prefer to sell directly to the roasters and know the people who will be taking our green to the finished product. I don't think we will ever get rich farming Kona coffee, but my hope is that in the coming years we will have a pretty loyal customer base and a few great roasters so that we can project out sales and spend less time on the marketing end. If we are able to do that, we can plan for potentially adding more trees or just working less in general on our coffee business and spend more time on other areas of our business that make money (like our event space).

I ask because one of the big things stopping Hawaiian coffee (and a lot of coffee around the world) from getting big, in my opinion, is cost.

I mean, Hawaii isn't that big and we don't produce that much coffee (in comparison to many other growing regions). I don't think anyone here wants or needs Hawaiian coffee to "get big" because most farms are able to sell their coffee. However, what I would really like to see (and this is where roasters come in) is an overhaul in coffee consumer education. I want people to understand (especially roasters!!) that our coffee is expensive not because we just think it is worth more but because it costs more to produce.

I have had roasters say to me "why do you think your coffee is worth 4x and much a ___ coffee when it isn't 4x as good?" And really that is a hard question to answer because it isn't "worth" more unless you place value on your coffee being produced with (more than) fair labor conditions and in compliance with real environmental laws. It's a hard road to convince someone to care about something they don't care about and it really comes off "preachy" which I hate.

Is it a huge goal for you to turn it into a massive growing operation? Or do you like where you are, and don't plan on making it bigger? And if so, how do you create a sustainable situation that allows you to maintain that with the creeping popularity of coffee elsewhere?

Our property is only 20 acres and right now 8 of that is planted in coffee. Even if we planted every possible area with coffee, we probably could only plant 15ish acres just because of how our house and chicken area and stuff is. It's in the works to maybe consider adding 4 more acres if it makes financial sense a few years from now - but even that is not a big operation at all. We would only add that section if we were easily selling out of our entire crop of coffee from the 8 acres, so it would be I hope sustainable even though other origins are gaining in popularity.

I want to be clear though that I don't see other origins as our competition because I feel like there is a ton of market share for all of the great coffee from around the world. Our competition is starbucks, dunkin, k cups, shit grocery store coffee etc. and I hope to eat away at a (admittedly very small) part of their customer base just through consumer education. Which is actually part of the reason I did this AMA.

I think the craft beer industry is a good example - for years and years there has been room in the market for more and more craft breweries and those craft breweries were barely competing with eachother. They were taking away business from bud light, but not from each other. Now days there is SO MUCH great beer that breweries are starting and failing all the time, and only the good ones are succeeding. But coffee isnt there yet. Third wave coffee is still on the rise, we haven't reached that over-saturation point (not even close I think). But I am not an economist or anything - that is just my opinion based on totally anecdotal evidence.


Q:

are you aware that your nickname is also the name of the Silver Surfer's board? as in, "To me, my board!" he'd say. and then later on they made it so he named his board "toomee".

A:

Hello, and thank you for your thorough and insightful response! It's wonderful to know that you have a great understanding of your market, and your end goal.

So to clarify, by American coffee production, you mean American coffee growing right? Coffee is really only grown in Hawaii (although I did hear that UC Davis is trying to do some test trees) which makes it a little easier to sum-up.

There's actually a farm just north of us in Santa Barbara that is growing! It's also cool to know that UCD is trying to test as well. I think the hard part is that due to the climate here (neither Santa Barbara nor Davis are particularly humid relative to other coffee growing nations, and the frost point isn't low enough that the comparative altitude doesn't make for much of a similar growing situation as like...2000masl in Kenya), so the coffee...tastes like low altitude coffee. I'd love to try to roast some of their coffee though, to see what's up, only problem is that we can't afford it.

I have had roasters say to me "why do you think your coffee is worth 4x and much a ___ coffee when it isn't 4x as good?" And really that is a hard question to answer because it isn't "worth" more unless you place value on your coffee being produced with (more than) fair labor conditions and in compliance with real environmental laws. It's a hard road to convince someone to care about something they don't care about and it really comes off "preachy" which I hate.

This is tricky on our end too! The thing is...as we have the direct line to consumers and wholesale accounts, we have to explain to them why the coffee is expensive. And while we've been able to do that, we still get a bit of pushback (we spend a lot for our coffee, so our wholesale costs might not be easily as approachable). The thing is, if we are having trouble making an argument from a price perspective despite the fact that we source from dry mills in Africa that provide some of the only opportunities for employment for women in the area, it's going to be a lot harder for us to make the argument that even more expensive coffee is also worth it. So it's one thing that someone like me sees the value in paying a lot for coffees that really do a lot to bring opportunity to the people that grow and process it, but it's another for me to create a sustainable business plan off of it (because even if it just represents one part of our entire product offering, it's still money and effort). It's hard, for sure, but I totally empathize with where you're coming from!

However, what I would really like to see (and this is where roasters come in) is an overhaul in coffee consumer education. I want people to understand (especially roasters!!) that our coffee is expensive not because we just think it is worth more but because it costs more to produce.

I completely agree with you that a consumer education effort is huge, and absolutely necessary, because so many consumers are blasted with information and farm names just become farm names. One of the things we wanted to prioritize, and to educate on, is the story of our coffees, and the real people behind them, but consumers just aren't interested yet (though we're trying). Once consumers understand the effort that goes into producing the coffee, we hope that our prices will be more justifiable (because specialty coffee tends to be expensive, but what people don't see is the slim margins on both the producer and roaster end).

I want to be clear though that I don't see other origins as our competition because I feel like there is a ton of market share for all of the great coffee from around the world. Our competition is starbucks, dunkin, k cups, shit grocery store coffee etc. and I hope to eat away at a (admittedly very small) part of their customer base just through consumer education. Which is actually part of the reason I did this AMA.

What I mean is that for a roaster, we only have so much ability to take on so much coffee, and we want to have a well rounded selection of offerings but there are a lot of situations that make it difficult for us to pick up coffees from a lot of different locations that we'd otherwise love love LOVE to work with. You may get a roaster who looks at coffee and says, "At that price, I'd rather get something from PNG" because...(and I hesitate to say this but I feel like it might be true) some of them only care about rounding out their offerings. But I guess that's why it's up to you to vet your roasters and choose the ones who really want to focus on sharing your story and product at a price that is fair to you, and hopefully you can get a sustainable relationship from that!

I think the craft beer industry is a good example - for years and years there has been room in the market for more and more craft breweries and those craft breweries were barely competing with eachother. They were taking away business from bud light, but not from each other. Now days there is SO MUCH great beer that breweries are starting and failing all the time, and only the good ones are succeeding. But coffee isnt there yet. Third wave coffee is still on the rise, we haven't reached that over-saturation point (not even close I think). But I am not an economist or anything - that is just my opinion based on totally anecdotal evidence

I hope this is the case. I think a lot about coffee and then I meet people who are into specialty coffee but aren't as into it as I am, and I suddenly realize that it's a very deep pond with not a lot of people who are on the deepest end - we just feel that way here (cause there's a LOT of roasters and shops in Southern California) because we see each other and hang out so much that it just feels that specialty coffee is everywhere.

Out of curiosity, what is the total production / acre that you guys are at right now? And what varietals do you guys have going on?


Q:

No. He didn't know. Neither did I. I never read a lot of the silver surfer comics. I think I got a handful back in the late 80's/early 90's, around the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, iirc. Thanos had married Death?

Video Response:https://youtu.be/TRpm3aP7W04

A:

There's actually a farm just north of us in Santa Barbara

I had no idea about that! Cool! I haven't tried the CA coffee and I don't think it is likely to be that good just based on climate. But I think more people doing coffee research (especially in the US) will only be good for me. So the more the merrier.

Re: cost and consumer education:

I TOTALLY get it that not all roasters can buy Hawaiian coffees and I don't think it is necessarily even a bad thing that they don't. It is just frustrating to me personally when they flat out do not even consider it because of price. Roasters are businesses though, not charities, and you have to plan for what your customers will buy and do what is best for staying in business. You won't be helping any farms if you go under.

That said, the roasters we do work with have found that they can work our coffee into their business plan when they don't buy that much. We sell our green by the pound, not by the 100lb bag, so that roasters can buy the exact amount that will fit in their business. One of the roasters we work with primarily sells our coffee buy the cup in his coffee shop and he only buys 10lbs at a time. Even though 10lbs of green isn't that much for us, we still really appreciate the business and every little bit helps. And he is educating his consumers 1 cup at a time about Hawaiian coffee, and they may come back and want more which means he will be able to buy more.

Re: margins - yes I think it is very hard for consumers to understand the difference in pricing between commodity coffee and single origin estate coffee. The margins are huge in commodity coffee and even "fair trade" coffee. That is how you can buy an $8 lb of coffee at Dunkin donuts or whatever.

What I mean is that for a roaster, we only have so much ability to take on so much coffee, and we want to have a well rounded selection of offerings but there are a lot of situations that make it difficult for us to pick up coffees from a lot of different locations that we'd otherwise love love LOVE to work with.

Ahh okay sorry I don't think I understood what you meant. So I get that roasters want to offer a variety of coffees and can't always justify sticking a Hawaiian coffee in a slot when they could get a great Nicaraguan or whatever for a 1/4 of the price. There are only so many slots (packaging and stuff costs money for each type) and you need to focus on what will sell.

The roasters we sell to now solve that by offering our coffee on a really small scale or rotating basis just in their coffee shop and/or offering it more for the holidays or up-scale gifts. One roaster in Michigan we work with buys our extra fancy pretty much just for valentines day and christmas because people are willing to spend more then. So I guess what I am saying is that if a roaster wants a Hawaiian coffee, there is a way to sell it, but it doesn't fit in with every business model and that is okay.

it just feels that specialty coffee is everywhere

Haha I never feel like that living here. The line is sometimes around the block at starbucks and we have locally grown coffee in tons of independent coffee shops. I don't think we (my farm) needs to target the "deepest end of the pond" so to speak of coffee consumers. A lot of our customers buy our coffee just because they like us and they like supporting local farmers. It isn't always a matter of being "into" coffee. We actually send out guides to brewing coffee with our orders just because a lot of people don't know anything about water temp or grind size and I want to make sure they are getting their money's worth after dropping a lot of money (comparatively) on coffee.

Out of curiosity, what is the total production / acre that you guys are at right now? And what varietals do you guys have going on?

We right now have primarily arabica (kona typica) trees but we have a small section of about 10 trees of a hybrid called Kona Passion (also an arabica). They are working out great though (high production, beautiful big beans and tasty!) so we will probably plant more of those.

On our 8 acres our production for the 2016/17 harvest was about 30K lbs of cherry. We project to have more like 40-50K lbs next year and hopefully around 60K lbs going forward after that. Of that coffee about 4,000 lbs of green was produced. Then when it is all graded out we will have about 3,400lbs of sale-able green (some of it is too low of a grade to sell and we either drink it ourselves or if it is really bad compost it). Of that our goal is to sell about half of that in green and the other half as roasted. We have sold about half of our green goal already for the season and we haven't even finished our last pick which is great! On roasted coffee, we are slowly plugging away but still have a lot left to sell.


Q:

Also have DMD in my family, 3 cousins and an uncle I never knew. All have passed now.

As you can guess, family gatherings could be a mad house. One year at Thanksgiving, everyone was at our grandparents. The three with DMD were in wheelchairs by this time and we're huddled around a TV playing video games. The turkey was ready so grandma asked another cousin what kind of turkey they wanted. She ran and asked them and they all wanted legs. She yells back into the kitchen "the wheelchair gang wants legs!" Grandma responded "I'll bet they do!"

My cousins always loved video games, especially games like gta where you could do whatever you wanted to do. My question, are you excited about the future of VR gaming as a way to be more engage within the game?

Thanks for doing this man!

A:

Do you use a natural, honey, or washed process?


Q:

Hey, great story! We actually got a little sidetracked talking about jokes like the one your grandma made. He's not really getting super hyper right now, but Toomee usually has a pretty wild sense of humor, so I was a little surprised that he said that wasn't cool. Maybe it's just the context. We definitely joke around with each other a lot in this house, but sometimes he takes things pretty literal.

To answer your question, though, yes he is excited about VR. I have a cardboard headset that I've played around with a little bit, but I haven't let him use it. I've been telling him that early adoption is for suckers, give it another year or two and it will be exponentially more awesome and half the price.

I also asked him Playstation VR or HTC Vive. He said Playstation, but I believe he is mistaken. Either way, I've been kicking around the idea of building a simulation pit in the garage. Just trying to figure out how likely it is to end up becoming another home project that I've started and not finished.

Video Response: https://youtu.be/0gm2eaH-RMI

A:

Only washed process right now but I would like to do some natural next year if there is a demand for it. A lot of farmers here seem to look down on it because it can kinda hide bad coffee with sweetness.


Q:

Hi Toomee! Who's your favorite Wrestler and who should have win the Royal Rumble?

A:

Your website states that the coffee is roasted to order for maximum freshness. For how long will the beans retain the freshness? What can be done to extend it?


Q:

His favorite(s) are Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, and in NXT Shinsuke Nakamura. His least favorite right now is Bobby Roode, and he thinks Roman Reigns sucks. He later qualified that Reigns was a good wrestler but McMahon needed to change his character. I asked if he was concerned that he might bump into Vince at Wrestlemania and have to fight him over that, he said bring it.

Video Response:https://youtu.be/7GPb2DnW_co

A:

Beans are usually super fresh and great just in their package (we use a special coffee bag with a valve) for up to two weeks after roasting. They stay pretty good (like only super coffee tasters can tell the difference) for up to a month. After that they slowly lose flavor and can become stale. You can extend that by storing your coffee with as little exposure to light, air and humidity as possible. (In the pantry in a sealed opaque canister or jar is great). Also don't grind your beans until right before you drink them.

Personally I will drink coffee that's even months old but I'll just make it into iced or into a coffee cocktail or something (Baileys can make anything taste good imo lol).


Q:

Hi, and thank you for all the knowledge passed on here. Quite amazing.

Searching the IAMA, I did not read about decaffe, so apology if you have commented? From your web-site, did see this... "Our lightest and most caffeinated roast." Sounds great! But, alas, doctor told me to slow down the caffeine, so which of your blends would be lowest?

EDIT: P.S. How are yours shipping charges determined? Like to an idea before signing up in the checkout buying.

A:

No one has asked about that actually! You're the first! So we don't sell decaf (as far as I know the beans have to go through a special process to be decaf and we don't have anyone on our island who does it). I think your best bet is a dark roast because it does have less caffeine or just drink less coffee. Probably if I were in your situation I would just drink a small amount of great coffee and hope to be satisfied with that.


Q:

best bet is a dark roast because it does have less caffeine or just drink less coffee. ... drink a small amount of great coffee and hope to be satisfied with that.

Ahh, like this! My doctor will not, but too bad, haha. Also, in my first post, just now added a question about your shipping charges, how are determined?

A:

We ship in flat rate boxes or envelopes. Anything that fits in a flat rate envelope (generally 1.5lbs or less) ships for $6.10 priority mail. The next size up is $11.50 I think which is a medium box and holds quite a bit.


Q:

How much did he have under management and what were his annualized returns? What was his cut of the p+l? How competitive was it to get in the role? Securities he traded? Was it super algorithmic or more flow? Was he involved in trading during 07/08, and if so, what were his returns then? Did he know Ray Cahnman? Is kona coffee different from regular coffee?

A:

Lol I have NO IDEA what the first questions mean but I will ask him later and try to get back to you. Yes he knows Ray Cahnman and actually was on his desk when he first started out! (small world!)

Kona coffee is different from other coffees but not from "regular" coffee. If you are drinking single origins roasted correctly, you should be able to taste differences in coffees from all over the world. Kona is known for a really smooth easy drinkability. Not a super high acid coffee. There are tasting notes on our website if you are interested in specifics.


Q:

Ah, ya. I saw that he worked for transmarket and had to ask, since Ray is pretty big in that space. Very cool that he got to work directly w Ray.

A:

Okay so I asked him but he doesn't remember the answers to all the questions. Here is what he said though from 2012 when he left-

  • He doesn't know how much he had in management because it depends on which desk he was working. It ranged from 50K to a few million.

  • He said the annualized returns depend on how many assets were under management but he thinks his returns were over 100%.

  • His desk got 30% of profits and another 30% is put in the firm-wide discretionary bonus pool given out depending on how well you traded.

  • It is much more competitive now than it was when he got hired (although to me his process still seems pretty competitive). When he got hired, he started in a summer group of 15 people and then he was the only one out of that pool that got hired on.

  • He said it wasnt super algorithmic. They did a lot more market making and used a mean reverting strategy.

  • He traded interest rate futures (started with Euro Dollar, then moved to Euribor, Sterling and then moved to Canada and Brazil interest rates)

  • He started in 09 so he avoided that dark period.


Q:

Are there any days where you regret leaving the corporate world? What do you miss about the corporate world?

A:

Yeah sometimes! Even though I was a lawyer, I miss being able to leave my work at work. Now that I own my own business, it is just work all the time. But that work feels better because everything we do benefits us and our bottom line so it feels good busting ass.

I miss the perks! Lunches out, work parties, health insurance etc. Now I eat lunch at home every day and we provide our own health insurance.


Q:

Hallo, im from germany and currently studying agriculture [sadly we have no classes about tabaco or coffee]. I was wondering where did you get the knowlage to operate a whole farm? From what i learned its pretty difficult to build a new farm and get it running.

A:

We hired a consultant for the first few years to help us and teach us. It really has been a long road and learning process and we still don't know even close to everything we need to know. Just tomorrow my husband is going to a class at the CTAHR (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources) to learn more about a pest we get a lot.


Q:

I enjoyed going through your photos on the website but disappointed that there weren't any photos of the coffee shrubs. I think photos of the flowers, berries and raw beans would be nice as well. Could you also take a photo of the coffee shrubs with someone standing by it for scale? I always wondered how big they can grow. I used to grow one indoors for a few years.

A:

Ahh sorry there are a bunch on our instagram! I don't know if I have one with someone standing right next to it but there are at least a couple with people standing near by. I will definitely take your tip though and add more coffee plant pictures to our site.

The trees can get really tall if you dont prune them but we only let ours get up to 8ish feet before pruning.


Q:

About how much coffee does your orchard produce on average? Is 8 acres on the large side for a farm on the big island or more average? I'm also curious to know if your land was already a working orchard when you purchased it or did you lease a patch of land and start from scratch?

A:

The average size of a coffee farm in kona is 5 acres but that average is a little misleading because there are TONS of "farms" where people have an acre or less and then a few huge farms with hundreds of acres. I think 8 acres is pretty normal for people who coffee farm as their full time job.

This year we produced about 30K lbs of cherry which is on the lower end but our trees are still very young - many of them didnt produce at all this year or had like one branch producing. We expect to have a bigger harvest next year.

Our land is owned not leased and there was no coffee on it when we bought it. We planted the orchard from scratch.


Q:

what is your favorite type of coffee to grow?

A:

We grow almost all arabica coffee (kona typica specifically). We have a little section of another type called Kona Passion but only about 10 trees of that as a trial.


Q:

Hi Kate and Doug!
I was in Kona recently and took a tour of another lawyer-turned-coffee-farmer and it was delightful.

Do you guys know each other and hang out? (Not mentioning the other company name to be respectful of your AMA)

A:

No I don't know them! Feel free to post who they are haha if they don't mind. I know another lawyer turned dragonfruit and bee keeper but that's it.


Q:

Have you ever visited other coffee shops on other islands? If so, which ones? I may or may not have worked at a ton of coffee shops.

A:

On other islands? Not really. I do go to them occasionally but I cant remember any memorable coffee.


Q:

What do you sell your coffee for a pound? Why so expensive?

A:

Most basically, it is expensive because it is grown in a first world country. It is the only coffee in the world grown with restrictions like labor laws, minimum wage, workers comp, overtime requirements, insurance requirements etc. The markup you are paying on our coffee over cost is about 25%. And those "costs" do not include our salaries. If we paid ourselves minimum wage, we wouldn't even be breaking even on the coffee. That bad of a return won't be the case forever though - as our trees get more mature, we will have more consistently large harvests and we should be able to pay ourselves slightly better than minimum wage. But no one here coffee farms to get rich.


Q:

What's your personal favorite roast you two have made? I may buy a bag or two ;)

A:

Thanks!! Anuenue is my favorite but if you like a darker roast Kalikimaka is great.