Two companies controlled half of Kona coffee crop


Captain Cook Coffee Co. (Macfarlane Building)

The Macfarlane Building, named after longtime manager Lewis Macfarlane, was once the headquarters of Captain Cook Coffee Co. Ltd., one of two companies that controlled over half the Kona coffee crop during the first half of the 20th century. Restored to serve as a county courthouse during the 1980s, this building is now privately owned.

Captain Cook Coffee Co. Ltd. and H. Hackfeld and Co. (later American Factors) acted as the “middle men” or factors between the local farmers and the world coffee market. American Factors advanced farm necessities and foodstuffs through affiliated stores (mostly operated by Japanese merchants) under the condition that farmers were to pay for their merchandise in coffee once the harvest was complete. All this coffee was processed at company mills, American Factors’ in Kailua and Captain Cook’s at the mill on Napoopoo Road. In this way, two companies dominated the industry with the farmer having no control over the value of his crop.

In the mid-1950s, Captain Cook Coffee Co. and American Factors withdrew from the coffee business. Several coffee cooperatives formed to market Kona’s crop, among these being Sunset Co-op , which took over operations at the Napoopoo Mill, which is currently run by Kona Pacific Farmers Co-op. Mountain Thunder Coffee recently took over Captain Cook Coffee’s building in Kainaliu.

Copyright 1998 Kona Historical Society. Reprinted by permission.