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The Kona Coffee Farmer's Little Boy That Could

August 23rd 2011

Ellison S. Onizuka had grown up to become a NASA astronaut, having picked coffee cherries on his familys farm in Kona, Hawaii after school...
Yes, once upon a time a Kona coffee farmer flew in space as well. A local farmer's son named Ellison S. Onizuka had grown up to become a NASA astronaut, having picked coffee cherries on his familys farm in Kona, Hawaii 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 orbit. There's a museum dedicated to the little 'Big Island' boy-that-could at our local airport.

When arriving or departing in Kailua-Kona, take the time to stop by and look around; it's really nicely done. Even a foil pouch from the space shuttles food trays providing 100% Kona (albeit freeze dried) is to be seen. You can't believe what an inspiration this man Ellison has become to the local Hawaiian kids and how teachers and locals alike uphold his image and achievement. Somehow we think he was looking forward very much to having his first cup, make that a pouch, of Kona coffee 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.

Coffee from Kona 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 Coffee (Kona) Page 448: Processing of Coffee (Kona) w/Sugar Page 449: Processing of Coffee (Kona) w/Artificial Sweetener & Nondairy Creamer 

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